2006’s Mission: Impossible III didn’t set the box office on fire, it was by far the weakest performer of the series (especially when adjusting for inflation). This wasn’t a reflection on the film’s quality, as director J.J. Abrams injected a lot of energy into it. The third time was the charm, as this is very much the most entertaining of the trilogy (though eclipsed handily by the new fourth film). This plot is far more personal for Ethan Hunt, with his new wife (Michelle Monaghan) being in peril. Even though the twisting and turning story is nearly as convoluted as the previous two films, there is more dramatic weight. The action scenes are handled with more flair, tighter than Woo’s sluggish bombast and even snazzier than De Palma’s work in the original. This one directly ties in to plot elements of Ghost Protocol so you’ll definitely want to see it before the new one.
These Blu-ray transfers are, as I mentioned, the exact same as those released in 2007. None of them look horrible, but the 1996 original is pretty obviously subpar and in need of remastering. Many of the problems come from print flaws. Far too many shots are plagued by black and white specs which are so frequent I almost stopped noticing them. Fine detail is really pretty weak. The image is not necessarily soft, but even close-ups do not show the amount of detail we expect from high definition. Black levels are reasonably strong, but black crush becomes an issue during some of the darkest scenes. M:I II is much stronger in terms of fine detail. The transfer is much cleaner as well, with a source print that was pretty much free of defects. The red rock cliffs that Hunt scales near the film’s beginning look fairly detailed. Black levels are less deep than the first film, but overall this is an acceptable transfer. M:I III looks the best, matching or improving on everything that was good about the second disc. Sharpness is a tiny bit lacking in some shots, but not in to a distracting degree.
Audio-wise things are also the same as the previous Blu-ray releases. None of the three films has been given a lossless soundtrack. Each movie features Dolby Digital 5.1 and just as with the visuals, things improve from disc to disc. But again, these movies need lossless audio in order to compete with what is standard for most new Blu-ray releases. The 1996 original makes the poorest use of the surround channels. This was a fine mix for standard DVD but it could be so much better. There isn’t much heft delivered to the subwoofer. Clearly from the car chase early on, 2000’s M:I II has a much fuller sounding mix. For a dated, lossy soundtrack this is still pretty good. M:I III, while still lossy, improves on things with noticeably deeper bass response and fully immersive use of the surround channels. Dialogue cuts through loud and clear on all three movies even during the noisiest scenes.