The worst film of the franchise with a simplified plot, moderate over-acting and way too much of a John Woo imprint on the film style that kills its longevity over time.
An IMF agent is sent to Sydney with the assignment of escorting a doctor that has created a deadly genetic virus to Atlanta, but instead steals it for himself, and it will be the task of Ethan Hunt to track down the rogue agent and retrieve the merchandise.
The dialogue was much more simplified in this sequel than any of the other films in the series. Thus many of the performances came across flat, and some forced, but mostly due to the film style of director John Woo. Tom Cruise was decent, he delivered more than a strong enough performance to make the most of the material and over-done cinematic moments in the story-line.
His best moments were without question his stunts that were clearly taken to the next level in regards to the first film. Cruise was hanging off the side of cliffs. diving out of buildings and helicopters and the sequences were easily eye-popping and attention grabbing. Anthony Hopkins was enjoyable as the arrogant boss and he was able to add a small yet impactful element to this film despite his lack of screen-time.
Ving Rhames was back and it was fun to see the continuation of his friendship being built with Cruise’s character. Rhames was smooth again in his delivery of Luther and once again gave the story a solid side character. John Polson was definitely enjoyable as a hint of comic relief and he did provide for a couple chuckles but the change to Simon Pegg in future films was a clear upgrade. Going back and watching this one again you can only think of Pegg and how, while Polson is funny at times, he is just not as good as Pegg has been in his additions to future works.
Dougray Scott was believable as the antagonist, his delivery was annoying in some scenes but he still managed to convey the persona of a capable, dangerous man. Thandie Newton was decent as well but I felt her role was way too under written, she came off very bland and under developed. Her dialogue could have been much more deeper to actually sell her as a thief herself, which this film clearly did not do.
The story in this sequel was also the simplest of the series. It was a passable script for a traditional action film but not a suitable entry in the “Mission: Impossible” series. On the positive side the simple script was loaded with more than enough action to pass the time where a thought-provoking script was lacking. The script was too focused on a love story and while it had its moments, it came across as too neat of a convenience to make for a plot-twist early in the film to try and build some kind of suspense.
I can understand the character of Ethan Hunt growing over time and when he was younger could have made some mistakes, but despite the beauty of the female lead it’s implausible he would have chose his actions as the story did for him. But hey, love at first sight, I guess I can roll with it given the film forced that notion in full Hollywood cheesiness during a few different moments that came off as chuckle-worthy.
There cinematography was both very good, and very bad at different moments. Unfortunitally more on the latter. Do not get me wrong there are some amazing action filled moments from well captured motorcycle chase, great camera-work in the creation of the traditional ‘impossible mission’ in the second-act. Added to the mix was a beautifully shot scene with Cruise rock-climbing in Utah and a plethora of shootouts and fist-fights.
On the down-side director John Woo let his trendy (only at the time) film style get the best of him. There are some classic Woo flicks out there but this was not one of them (for me). This turned out to be one of his more forced projects, and with such a directorial main-stage alongside Cruise in the summer of 2000, it was an opportunity wasted. There were simply too many forced and cheesy moments film-style wise that did nothing but hinder the quality of the action that was being filmed. The amount of slow-motion filming was so over done it became laughable.
John Woo does have a great creative eye but during this project he just tied too hard to wow audiences, that the abundance of stylistic action, pacing and overly dramatic score during some of the moments come across as eye-rolling today. The over use of styling was not a complete hindrance and in Woo’s efforts there were some visually stunning shots and simple additions to common movie moments that did add some allure. However with the amount of tricks he tried, and the choice of music for the film score he completely missed the tone and vibe the rest of the films bring.
In the end “Mission: Impossible II” had its moments and is a fun turn your brain off action film that packs plenty of action and adventure. Only movies with this title are not supposed to be brainless and filled with shallow characters, overacting and forced moments that may have worked at the time, but come across as slightly kiddish today. It was still a better than average action romp and Cruise give his all to make the film seem as realistic as possible. For that this film is not a complete waist and still a fun enough entry in the franchise but more grows forgettable as each new movie hits cinemas.