Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 10/31/23;
Paramount;
Action;
Box Office $172.14 million;
$25.99 DVD, $31.99 Blu-ray, $37.99 UHD, $44.99 UHD/BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of violence and action, some language and suggestive material.
Stars Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Esai Morales, Pom Klementieff, Henry Czerny, Shea Whigham, Greg Tarzan Davis, Cary Elwes.

The last few “Mission: Impossible” movies have pretty much set the standard for espionage actioners the past decade. However, Dead Reckoning, the seventh film derived from the premise of the 1960s TV series, feels more formulaic than the franchise has for a long time.

While it still features some terrific action scenes and excuses for star Tom Cruise to do many of his own stunts, Dead Reckoning offers the thinnest story of the franchise since the third film. Of course, ostensibly all the plots for films such as this are crafted as an excuse to string together a series of action sequences, but the seams for Dead Reckoning are showing a bit more than usual, which isn’t ideal for a film that, at 163 minutes, is not only the longest “Mission,” but also the first half of what is meant to be an epic two-parter.

The antagonist is an elusive artificial intelligence program called “The Entity” that has somehow become sentient. What it ultimately wants to do isn’t exactly clear, but its immediate concern is finding a special key that can apparently be used to gain access to the computer that stores its base code. The key is thus the film’s MacGuffin, the object being sought after by all the major characters that puts them in conflict with one another, from Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, to the Entity’s handpicked mercenary, Gabriel (Esai Morales), and all parties in between, including a thief (Hayley Atwell) in above her head, to CIA operatives tracking Ethan for once again going rogue on a mission.

It’s all well and good, and an entertaining adventure on the whole that looks and sounds great on disc, though some of the character arcs are questionable, and the action beats seem to take more than a few pages from the book of Bond. The finale on board a train is also well realized, though it does bring to mind similarly staged sequences from the film Under Siege 2 as well as the “Uncharted” video games.

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The film’s HD disc configurations include a standalone regular Blu-ray Disc, a standalone 4K Ultra HD disc, and a Steelbook containing the film on both 4K and Blu-ray discs. The only extras included with the film discs are an audio commentary with director Christopher McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton, and an isolated track of Lorne Balfe’s musical score. The filmmaker commentary is informative but tends to lean heavily toward the technical side.

The Blu-ray, 4K and Steelbook all come with the same bonus Blu-ray of additional extras, amounting to just six short featurettes totaling 31 minutes of behind-the-scenes material. Each of the videos focuses on a different setting or stunt: “Abu Dhabi,” “Rome,” “Venice,” “Freefall” (about Cruise’s well-publicized motorcycle jump off a cliff), “Speed Flying” and “Train.” These are pretty typical of promotional videos for movies such as this, though it is interesting to see some of the raw footage of the action sequences before visual effects were used for things such as removing cameras and replacing motorcycle ramps.

Digital versions of the film also include a nine-minute montage of deleted footage and a 10-minute featurette about editing the opening submarine sequence. Both are available with an optional commentary from McQuarrie and Hamilton.

Without the commentary, the deleted footage plays with a sample of Balfe’s score and no other sound or dialogue, as the footage is offered without any context aside from the viewer’s presumed knowledge of the film itself.

The editing featurette includes footage of the finished scene next to earlier footage and unfinished visual effects to provide some contrast between them as a demonstration of how the post-production process completes a film.

That these two pieces that total just 20 minutes are digital exclusives and weren’t included on the extras Blu-ray is something of a headscratcher, as surely the disc would have room for them given how scant what’s on there actually is.

Arrow’s June Subscription Slate Leads With Psycho Chiller ‘The Righteous’

Arrow Video has announced the June 2022 lineup of its new subscription-based Arrow platform, available to subscribers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

A highlight of the June 2022 lineup is the psychological chiller The Righteous, an award-winning standout on the genre festival circuit, available June 10 in the U.S., U.K. and Ireland.

The first feature from director-actor-writer Mark O’Brien is a dark chiller about a burdened man who feels the wrath of a vengeful God, after he and his wife are visited by a mysterious stranger. The film stars O’Brien, Henry Czerny and Mimi Kuzyk.

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The Righteous had its World Premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival in 2021, winning the Cheval Noir and Silver Award, and has since gone on to win a Bloodie at the 2021 Blood in the Snow Film Festival, and the Grimmfest Award at the 2021 Grimmfest.

The June slate kicks off June 1 with all six films from Charles Band’s “The Trancers Collection,” from the original 1984 Trancers to 2002’s Trancers 6. Also available on that date is “The Art of Cult,” featuring Children of the Corn, The Hills Have Eyes, The Stylist, and Ringu, as well as Hell High, a twisted tale of delinquency starring Christopher Cousins and Christopher Stryker.

On June 6 comes “The Vinegar Syndrome Collection,” with Avenging Angel, The Passing, Star Time and Sweet Sugar.

The Righteous is part of Arrow’s June 10 “Season: I Think You Should Leave,” which also includes The Bloodhound, Two Thousand Maniacs, and Shiver of the Vampire. Also available that day is Viy, the first horror film ever produced in the Soviet Union. 

On June 13 comes the 1989 cult slasher The Intruder, featuring early appearances by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, followed three days later by “You Really Should Have Seen It Coming,” featuring the films Dark August, The Premonition, Death Has Blue Eyes and Psychic Killer.

June 17 comes Blood Dolls and the cult classic slasher sequels Maniac Cop 2 and Maniac Cop III: Badge of Silence.

Capping the month is the June 20 release of “The American Genre Film Collection,” with Bat Pussy, Who Killed Captain Alex, She Mob and The Zodiac Killer.