Mission Impossible 2 is an action/spy film originally released in 2000 and is a sequel to the first Mission Impossible film from 1994. Unlike the first movie, Mission Impossible 2 is directed by John Woo, one of the most notable Chinese directors of all time due to his highly stylized creative approach. The film once again follows Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), a top-secret spy working for the American government as a member of the “Impossible Mission Force”.
As a sequel, Mission Impossible 2 ups the ante, including far more action, explosions, and violence than the previous film. It also doubles down on the romance, adding a bit of sex appeal to the brand. While these new approaches work and fail to some degree, Mission Impossible 2 still succeeds thanks to some excellent action scenes and John Woo’s signature directorial style.
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The Movie Review
The story in Mission Impossible 2 picks up not long after the events of the first movie, with Ethan Hunt managing to clear his name and become reinstated with the IMF. One day, while on holiday doing a bit of free-solo rock climbing, Ethan receives yet another self-destructing mission briefing. He is directed to choosing two IMF agents of his choosing as well as recruit a civilian thief named Nyah Hall (Thandie Newton), before meeting his contact in Seville, Spain. After choosing his two teammates, fan-favorite hacker Luther (Ving Rhames) and newcomer pilot Billy (John Polson), Hunt locates Hall and convinces her to join the team.
Hunt is quickly swooned by the seductive thief, forming a relationship with her over a few days. Unfortunately, Hunt soon learns that his mission is to recover a deadly virus known as the Chimera, which is currently being held by one of Hall’s ex-boyfriends. In order to complete his mission, Hunt will have to leverage his beloved or pay the price.
In terms of storytelling, Mission Impossible 2 is way more melodramatic than the original. Where the first Mission Impossible attempted to tell a detailed, complex story of international spy antics, Mission Impossible 2 plays out more like a romance story with tons of action. Apart from a few awesome vehicle-based action scenes, the first half of Mission Impossible 2 is plagued with unbelievable and cheesy romance.
This feels completely different than the tone of the first Mission Impossible movie (and the television series, at that), which might annoy some fans.
Luckily, around the halfway point, John Woo’s influence starts to show, resulting in highly stylized and at times ridiculous action scenes. There’s plenty of Woo’s signature “gun-fu”, some lengthy and highly choreographed fight scenes, and a heaping dose of slow-motion. If you’re unfamiliar with John Woo’s other action films, this style of directing might seem absolutely ridiculous. For those viewers who appreciate practical effects and the art of stunt work, the climactic section of Mission Impossible 2 is a treat. Unfortunately, there’s far too much fluff in the end product.
The Bottom Line
Mission Impossible 2, while an entertaining and at times uproariously fun action movie, struggles a lot with balancing its tone. Worse yet, it’s the sequel to one of the more serious spy films around, which makes its more ridiculous elements seem even more outlandish. That said, the movie has a far better villain than the first, resulting in an epic movie-ending showdown.
If you’re a fan of the first Mission Impossible and enjoy stylized action movies, Mission Impossible 2 is still worth a watch. You might laugh out loud at some of the ridiculous characters and physically impossible stunts, but it’s entertaining enough to forgive.
- John Woo's signature directorial style
- More action than the first
- Great fight choreography
- Unbelievable love triangle
- Clashing tones