Mission: Impossible 1-5 Boxset Ultra HD Blu-ray review

Must-own 4K boxset for the popular action-thriller franchise gives Tom Cruise and chums a chance to shine.

Aside from a misjudged second instalment that fortunately didn't derail the franchise, Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible movies have consistently delivered enjoyably twisty plots and plenty of action thrills. So it's great to find them getting the 4K Blu-ray treatment courtesy of Paramount's back-catalogue department.

Picture: Image quality varies considerably throughout this series – as you'd expect, given that they were made across a couple of decades.

Mission: Impossible (1996) was graced with a particularly uninspiring transfer on Blu-ray that lacked any real sense of depth or refined detailing. Thankfully this Ultra HD incarnation is an entirely different kettle of fish. Scanned in 4K from original 35mm film elements, the image sports greatly improved textures and nicely expanded dynamic range – especially where black levels are concerned. Grain is pervasive, but gives the imagery a film-like appearance that was conspicuously absent from the Full HD presentation. Our only real issues regard slightly forced attempts to widen the colour gamut.

Native film grain is slightly less aggressive when it comes to M:I-2 (2000) and while colours are still not perfect, they're less often overblown. Director John Woo's stylised photography provides even more opportunities to ramp up the dynamic range – although there is occasional ringing around heavily contrasted objects.

Perhaps because it was the first of the series to get a (2K) Digital Intermediate for its cinematic release, Mission: Impossible III (2006) shows a step-up in image clarity. There's less grain and more balanced and natural-looking colours, particularly regarding skin tones. The image contains a wider dynamic range too, notably in the scenes in the team's lab. Detail levels impress for an upscale of a 2K source, without only noticeable black crush in the very darkest scenes spoiling the party.

Picture quality leaps up again with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011). This one bagged a 4K DI for its cinematic run, with some scenes being shot in IMAX. The result is a significantly sharper, more detailed image than you get with the other discs, something that's clearly visible in everything from skin tones to distance shots across the film's various city locations. Dynamic range and colour gamut are extended without any of the crushed black level witnessed with the third film. In fact, the picture here verges on reference quality for much of its running time.

Unfortunately, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015) doesn't look as pristine as its immediate predecessor, and suffers from occasional picture noise. Although some sequences were filmed at 3.4K and even 6.5K, this movie was only released digitally in cinemas at 2K, so the assumption is that it's been upscaled here.

In addition to the standard HDR10 incarnations, Paramount has also included Dolby Vision HDR on all five films. If you can watch the latter versions, you'll find grain looking a touch more refined on the first three titles, and colours feeling more balanced and natural across all five.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: As difficult as it may be to believe, the first three Mission: Impossible movies have only ever been available with 'lossy' Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks on Blu-ray (which – sadly – remains the case with the Full HD discs bundled in this boxset). Paramount has taken the opportunity to rectify the issue by including Dolby TrueHD versions of those tracks on its 4K platters.

Sound quality generally improves as you move forward through the franchise – except that we'd argue the first film's 5.1 mix is more accomplished than that of the second movie. Mission: Impossible’s audio is a little unimaginative and short of ambient effects between action sequences, but overall is pretty compelling. M:I-2’s TrueHD 5.1 soundmix doesn't do a great job of combining its OTT action effects with director Woo's trademark 'bullet ballet' scoring, failing to generate the immersive atmosphere that you may have expected.

The third entry's 5.1 soundmix delivers a more dynamic, detailed and consistently busy surround soundstage. …Ghost Protocol shifts to a 7.1-channel TrueHD track that opens up the soundstage beautifully compared with the previous trio. There's more extension in the LFE track too, and a larger sense of scale all-round.

The star of the audio show by far, however, is …Rogue Nation. This is the only Dolby Atmos soundtrack in the boxset, and the difference is stark. Dynamics are huge, with monstrous (but never overcooked) levels of bass sharing ear space with colossal amounts of precise spatial detail and well-developed height ambience. The sequences at and after the opera are demo-grade.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: While the Mission: Impossible 4K boxset finally does justice to the entire franchise with its AV performance, it fumbles the ball a little when it comes to bonus features.

The main problem is that the lion's share of the Blu-ray extras for the third and fourth movies appeared on bonus discs that Paramount hasn't seen fit to include in this UK boxset (although they are included with the individual 4K releases the studio put out in the US). You only get Full HD movie platters for each instalment and the extras included therein.

At least the decent directors' commentaries for the second and third films have been ported across onto their respective 4K platters, and the solid sets of behind-the-scenes featurettes for the first, second and fifth films can be found on their Blu-ray discs. There are no new extras.
Extras rating: 3/5

We say: Despite some missing extra features, the boost in AV quality alone makes this Ultra HD boxset an essential purchase for fans.

Mission: Impossible 1-5 Boxset, Paramount, Ultra HD Blu-ray & All-region BD, £120

Mark Shaw's picture

The solution here is to do what I did - Buy all 5 4k discs individually in the U.S.
They're only $20 each from Amazon & include all the extras.

If we keep buying substandard releases (and paying more for the privelege!) then the studios will think we're happy and produce more.

Nuff said :-)