Paramount Home Media Distribution released the 4k Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD editions of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One on Oct. 31, 2023. The physical media formats follow an earlier digital release of the film (including 4k) on Oct. 10, following the theatrical premiere on July 12, 2203. Produced on a budget of $291M, the movie is the most expensive M:I film to date and 15th of all time (although, it is not clear if any of that budget went to shooting Part Two).
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One was directed by Christopher McQuarrie and written by McQuarrie and Erik Jendresen. Tom Cruise reprises his role as Ethan Hunt along with returning cast members Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, and Vanessa Kirby, with new supporting cast Hayley Atwell and Esai Morales. The movie and franchise are based on the TV series Mission: Impossible created by Bruce Geller.
Byline: Ethan Hunt and his IMF team must track down a dangerous weapon before it falls into the wrong hands.
Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie deliver yet another non-stop action film in which its story, luckily, is not overshadowed by the Evel Knievel-type stunts that Cruise endures for the sake of cinema. We won’t get too deep into the film itself, but it’s worth mentioning how many fans of the franchise were disappointed by the story and [Spoiler Alert] the death of one of its newest, and adored, heroic characters. What’s more, there has been some criticism that the Mission: Impossible franchise may have reached its end of life. To add to the woes, Paramount announced the sequel to Part One will not be called Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two.
But we’re not here to analyze the movie itself. We’re here to talk about how well this movie hits home in 4K disc format. As mentioned above, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One was released earlier in digital formats including 4K UHD with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. Given the max stream rates on platforms such as Apple TV, which typically offers the highest quality, max out at around 25 Mbps, 4k Blu-ray doubles or triples those bitrates, delivering the best home viewing experience.
Not to call out anyone in particular, but a recent Reddit user posted the question, “Will 4K discs stream as good as Netflix?” The answer is “yes,” at least 2 to 3 times higher quality. Bitrates determine the amount of detail and color in an image, and the amount of depth and fidelity in an audio file. The higher the bitrate (the delivery of data in the stream), the better the quality.
4K discs can hold up to 66 GB or 100 GB and allow for deeper color depth and detail because of the available space on the disc. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One played at an average of 50 to 60 Mbps with noticeable peaks close to 90 Mbps. The maximum light level delivered via the HDR spec is 997 nit with an average of 382 nit.
As expected based on previous Mission: Impossible titles, the video is reference quality. The Dolby Vision HDR delivers a wide dynamic range with the Rec.2020 spec. Colors in the sky are rendered with detail and shadow areas are not lost with crushed black levels.
The scene in the desert (à la Lawrence of Arabia) at 12 minutes is a good representation of the high quality of video in this film. Shot with a variety of cameras and lenses (too many to mention) the DI was mastered in 4k from 4k and 6k source material. The video is very sharp, with some shots utilizing shallow depth of field to bring the viewer’s attention to specific details. The footage is also enhanced by real dust that was created by a portable turbine engine. This scene has a ton of depth that renders nicely on home theater screens.
The airport scene is yet another gorgeous scene (the movie visits multiple locations around the world) where details, color, and shadows make every shot striking. The color grading and bokeh render beautifully with Dolby Vision. And, the 4k imagery brings out details in the geometry and architectural elements of the Abu Dhabi International Airport where it was filmed.
On the audio side, Mission: Impossible 7 packs an immersive Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack that emulates a Dolby Cinema experience. Final audio mixes for the theatrical presentations also included DTS:X and IMAX 6-Track, but the home media release locks in Atmos. It’s worth mentioning the Digital 4k presentation of Mission: Impossible 7 also features Atmos (where available) as well as the 2k Blu-ray.
The sound averaged between 2.5 Mbps and five Mbps, depending on the level of depth in the audio mix. The explosion of the submarine at 26 minutes is a perfect example of the dynamic sonal range of the movie, as the music score and dialogue are perfectly mixed above an implosion of low frequencies in the subwoofers.
Jump to 12 minutes in the desert when Ethan is trying to meet up with Elsa. The dynamic range in the scene gives us reference quality high and low frequencies. Gunshots spray through the 3-dimensional audio stage as low frequencies roar under the oncoming dust storm.
There are six separate bonus sections on the 1080p Blu-ray that take viewers around the world to the different locations where Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One was made. The production featurettes provide excellent insight into the stunts and making-of requirements of a film this expansive. The extras (with or without audio commentary from director Christopher McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton) include Abu Dhabi, Rome, Venice, Freefall, Speed Flying, and Train.
But that is where the bonus features fall short. In a bit of a twist, deleted shots (amounting to 8 minutes and 59 seconds) from the film are only provided with the digital purchase (available after redeeming the code), as well as a 10-minute and 9-second editorial featurette about the opening scene. Typically, exclusive extras are provided on Blu-ray editions to encourage buying physical media. It’s disappointing these are not on the Blu-ray and require an internet connection to view via digital services.
Regardless of some criticism about the story and character arcs, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is a must-own for home theater nerds like ourselves. The sheer magnitude of the film in its locations and stunts all captured in beautiful cinematography by Fraser Taggart is unsurpassed on 4k Blu-ray. The audio raises the bar for other movies in its clarity of mix and dynamic range. The movie boasts a soundtrack that “hits all the spots” when heard on multi-speaker systems, most notably in Dolby Atmos.