Overflowing with daring stunts and zany technological hoo-hah, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol sails triumphantly to Blu-ray this week from Paramount, featuring death-defying performances from Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, and returning lead Tom Cruise (in Cruise’s case, literally death-defying). The visual gallantry and general phantasmagoria of nifty tricks listed above refers primarily to the film itself, but the Blu-ray can be described similarly, featuring over two hours of bonus footage concentrated on the dramatic behind-the-scenes adventures of the film’s cast and crew during its laborious on-location shooting schedule, as well as various practical and FX peccadillos, silly anecdotes, and assorted other goodies.
After being unexpectedly sprung from Russian prison, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is tasked with tracking down Kurt Hendricks , a shady Norwegian terrorist bent on gaining access to nuclear launch codes that have the potential to destroy human civilization. After a botched attempt to sabotage Hendricks’ plotted apocalyptic firestorm, Hunt and his associates at the IMF are falsely implicated in a terrorist scandal, which causes the American government to withdraw formal support. Realizing the stakes are too high to simply abandon the mission, the team continues operating illegally in a rogue capacity, tracking Hendricks as he embarks on a globetrotting spree, attempting to elude his pursuers in quest for the coveted codes.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is the fourth installment in the series of popular motion pictures based on the ‘60s TV show, and it takes its pop cultural antecedents in stride, subtly balancing genuine geekish enthusiasm for the gadgetry and tricksterism inherent to the spy subgenre with occasional notes of suave, deadpan irony. The complex technological augmentations the team relies on to accomplish its missions malfunctions and adds complications almost as frequently as it works, preventing a potentially stale fix-all plot device from weighing down the rest of the film (the lack of access to an online support network becomes a recurring theme, transformed into a kind of meta joke about the importance of Internet access). Cruise notoriously performs all his own stunts, and Ghost Protocol highlights his contributions beautifully, particularly in a hair-raising sequence wherein Hunt is forced to rappel across a towering Dubai skyscraper.
The disc’s special features run over two hours total, and the behind-the-scenes footage is surprisingly well organized and well presented, creating a real feel for the excitement of all the team members involved in the production. Featurettes dwell on the film’s technical details and the experience of location shooting in Dubai, Mumbai, and Prague. There’s a reel of deleted scenes with director commentary from Brad Bird and some trailers on there as well. The film itself is highly entertaining and technically accomplished, and the bonus features go above and beyond expectations. Overall, a very solid release that displays exceptional attention to detail, making it more than worthy of purchase.