Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Blu-ray Review
When’s the next one?
Changing gears with each successive outing, the Mission: Impossible franchise has propelled itself across the best part of two decades with flair, and even fifth time around Rogue Nation leaves you wanting more.Right from the classic tune over the production credits to that jaw-dropping, aerial pre-credits sequence to the magical signature credits themselves we get the instant feeling that this entry, perhaps more so than any other before it, is intent upon paying tribute to not only the best moments of the previous instalments but also of the classic TV series, with the best credits sequence in the series thus far, and the toughest villains too. Fans will already know that The Syndicate is taken straight from the TV series, and that they are the Mission: Impossible equivalent to Bond’s SPECTRE (only, as it turns out, infinitely more threatening than the latter), and the film establishes the franchise’s strongest opposing force, complete with hordes of disposable gun-wielding assassins (most spectacularly on a fleet of motorcycles) and a viciously ruthless villain at the head of the table. It also establishes the franchise’s strongest female presence in Rebecca Ferguson’s kick-ass, mysterious, and undeniably gorgeous double – or maybe even triple – agent.Regular Cruise collaborator Christopher McQuarrie handles the writing and directing duties this time around, with a production team that once again delivers an assured, frequently breathlessly kinetic entry which bounds from set-piece to set-piece with fluid motion and blockbuster spectacle, whilst paying keen tribute to previous entries, familiar faces and series (film and TV) trademarks. And with Cruise, even at 53, delivering a whole array of jaw-dropping stunts that require him to drive, hold his breath and just hold on for dear life – in some of the most truly insane scenarios that you’ve ever seen – it’s easy to forget that this is the fifth time out for this crew, and that this is undoubtedly one of the best (if not the best – Fast Five notwithstanding) fifth entries in any franchise. Rogue Nation doesn’t strike every single note perfectly – perhaps not quite delivering its more low key third act with the same effortless vitality as its first two – but it remains a great franchise entry, a great Summer Blockbuster and indeed one of the best Blockbusters of the year.
Picture QualityAlthough not steeped in precise IMAX wonder, Rogue Nation remains gorgeous and cinematic.
Paramount's UK Region Free Blu-ray release promotes the film in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen complete with a largely stunning 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation which both captures the breadth of spectacle and renders it with loving adherence to a very traditional, classical, filmic look. Detail is excellent throughout, with a rich depth to the piece and strong texturing and whilst there are some scenes where softness creeps around the edges, this feels more a part of the filmic style of lensing the piece (it's got a more classical look rather than a precise digital look). The colour scheme is broad and vibrant, with some strong tones particularly in the more exotic locales, whilst black levels remain rich and deep and allow for wonderful shadow detail with no overt signs of blocking, banding or crush. Aside from that smidge of softness this is nigh-on reference territory; a great-looking video presentation for one of the most impressive blockbusters of the year.
Sound QualityRogue Nation's tremendous audio track certainly sets the stage for one of the most exciting cinematic experiences of the year.
Cas Harlow reviewed the audio using a standard 5.1-channel setup - Right from the over-the-production credits score music cues, through to the blistering action sequences and globe-trotting hijinks this track impresses. With dialogue remaining clearly defined across the frontal array, rising above the maelstrom, the effects coverage is at times breathtaking - even without the benefit of access to the full capabilities of the accompanying Dolby Atmos track - strapping you to the side of a plane during takeoff, or submerging you underwater with nothing but the muffled sound of air bubbles and the increasingly rapid pound of a heartbeat to engulf you. Surround action is at times astounding - listen to the arc of camera clicks as we pan around the Vienna opera house - and the key setpieces drive this point home, with more than enough LFE presence to make the hairs on your arm stand up. From blistering car chases to breakneck speed motorcycle pursuit; all the while with that tremendous signature score, once again reinvented for another chapter, providing backup for the rest of the track, this is undoubtedly a highlight of the year.
Steve Withers reviewed the audio using a 7.2.4-channel Dolby Atmos setup - From the opening pre-credit sequence the Dolby Atmos soundtrack delivers a totally immersive experience. The sounds of the wind and the deep bass roar of the engines are all around you as you find yourself hanging on the outside of the plane, along with Tom Cruise. The same is true of the break-in sequence, where you find yourself totally submerged in the underwater computer storage tank and the robotic arms sweep overhead. Both sequences are excellent examples of how a modern object-based soundtrack can completely immerse you in the scene, creating a wonderfully visceral audio experience. The Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation soundtrack is a stand-out example and it doesn't stop there. The car and bike chase is equally as thrilling and the soundtrack places you right in the middle of the action. As a biker rolls over the top of the car, the sounds literally go overhead, taking full advantage of the additional speakers, as does a scene where a car rolls over and over. The explosions also have a fantastic low frequency impact and this extends to the suppressed thud of the silenced guns. However it isn't just the action sequences that benefit from the soundtrack, locations have a real sense of atmosphere, dialogue is crystal clear (even Sean Harris's annoying whispering delivery) and the music is beautifully rendered. In short, the Dolby atoms soundtrack is pure demo quality from beginning to end.
Steelbook ExtrasWith talk of exclusive bonus discs and exclusive extras - and even of some deleted scenes which never made the final cut - it's clear that the UK release isn't quite comprehensive, but it does come with all the most important extras. Headlined by a strong Audio Commentary with McQuarrie and Cruise on great form, discussing their work together (reuniting for the third time), the development of plot and cast, the key stunts and setpieces and the evolution of the franchise, we also get a series of accompanying Featurettes which dip into each of these topics in further detail. Each running little more than 5 minutes in length, Lighting the Fuse, Cruise Control, Heroes, Cruising Altitude, Mission: Immersible, Sand Theft Auto, and The Missions Continue cover all the bases, with an overview Featurette, one focussed on Cruise's executive producer involvement with the franchise, one detailing the main hero characters, three on the key stunts - the plane, underwater, and car/bike chases - and one on the ongoing evolution of the series.
With a strong selection of extras and a stunning steelbook release, this is a great package.
Rogue Nation is actually being released globally in various different steelbook designs, but undoubtedly one of the nicest is this UK Zavvi-exclusive, which comes with a superb raised border and embossed "MISSION IMPOSSIBLE" titling on the front cover, as well as spot gloss work most notably on Cruise and the plane on the front cover, leaving them a shimmering greeny-silver against the landscape background. Although the photo-montage-design back cover may not be to everybody's tastes, and the overall design doesn't necessarily fit in with the rest of the steelbook releases from the series (in particular Paramount's Centennial releases of the first three, which all match with red, yellow and blue-dominated head-shots of Cruise largely based on the corresponding film posters), it's still one of the most detailed, impressive releases this year, with the specific glossing and embossing/debossing a highlight.
Blu-ray VerdictWith a 6th entry planned to shoot as early as 2016 – reteaming Cruise with McQuarrie for the first reunion in the franchise – thankfully we won’t have to wait long for the next great MI summer blockbuster.
The UK Zavvi-exclusive Steelbook Region Free Blu-ray release of Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation boasts stunning video and audio, and a strong selection of extra features - all in a gorgeous steelbook package, one of the best looking of the year. It comes highly recommended - put it on your Christmas list now!
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
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