Mission: Impossible 2

Posted: August 17, 2018 in Movies
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Anticipation was high for Mission: Impossible 2. Back then, in the late 90’s, Cruise was not known for coming back for sequels. For a while we didn’t know if he would be back or if the sequel would have a new team. It turned out a bit of both happened. See when the sequel went ahead the agenda for these films was for each one to be distinct. The only connecting tissue to be Ethan Hunt, Ving Rhames’ Luther Strickell and an impossible mission. It would be the next installment in the franchise, MI3, which would introduce characters and plot points which would continue across further sequels but with this first sequel Cruise & co. were still figuring out what this franchise was. That is why this one comes across as set apart from other entries in the franchise.

John Woo signing up to direct Mission: Impossible 2 was a big deal. Throughout the 80’s and the 90’s Woo had earned a reputation as one of the best action directors working in the industry. His films and his name carried a huge amound of weight and expectation. The mid-90’s saw Woo move into Hollywood and he turned out several hits such as Hard Target, Broken Arrow and Face Off. For a budding action franchise like Mission: Impossible Woo was a sure bet. The first publicity stills for this film showed Cruise’s character scaling a cliff face without a rope. Hardcore. Then the teaser trailers started to arrive, the interviews in Empire and Total Film magazine were gearing up anticipation and the footage in the trailers was impressive. Everyone assumed a home run, a more action focused/heavy film than the first movie and backed up with a solid cast.

The results are a mixed bag. See the finished film is a servicable action movie, a tad on the long side, but it’s mostly well done and entertaining. It’s not a great example of Woo’s amazing talents as a filmmaker nor can it be called one of the better entries in the Mission: Impossible series which, to date, is known for quality sequels. The best way to sum up this experiment is that sometimes what seems great in theory doesn’t always result in the outcome you want. I can’t say what went down during production but I can relate what I felt worked and didn’t for the sequel.

Some of the best parts of the film are the IMF scenes. Prepping for the mission, recruiting agents, infiltration, face masks or engaging with the bad guys is when the film feels like a Mission: Impossible movie. This film’s McGuffin is fine. A deadly virus. It could wipe out millions of innocent people if the wrong people get a hold of it. Okay. We got it. That works. The notion of one of Ethan’s peers going rogue is a good touch too. What brings all of this down a bit is the execution in how the script deals with all of this.

The virus stuff for example. One minute you think it’s a case of the bad guys have it and will unleash it but then it’s like oh no hang on… no one has it, no one is sure who has it and the baddies actually just want to sell it. It just feels a bit too dense for such a simple concept.

Then there’s Thandie Newton’s character Nyah. Talk about wasted oppertunity. First of all I think Newton is awesome and I like her character in this. Yet the film seems intent at keeping her away from all of the action and excitement! Instead she’s there just to take part in this weird over the top romance between herself and Ethan which comes out of nowhere. The worse part is how the script/movie introduces her as this cool Catwoman like master theif who Ethan has to recruit and THEN his boss is like “Actually we don’t need her skills as a theif. We just want her to go back to her ex-boyfriend-“ and be a damsel basically. Why build her up if that’s all you want to do with her? I think she should have been involved in the infiltration stuff, like actively over seeing it and kicking arse.

The action, as you’d expect, is well done but I would not say it’s brilliant. There are some neat Woo staples. A bit more hand to hand combat which is always boss to see and a decent shoot-out or two. The irony creeps in on the action though once it starts being a bit too John Woo in style. It just feels misguided. Ethan Hunt as a John Woo hero, for me, doesn’t work. It comes across as surprising at best and – sorry – corny at worse. All billowing black leather jackets and shades AND doves. That stuff works great in the right movie but this is not the right movie. Even the high speed bike chase doesn’t seem natural to this world. BUT – you gotta always see the positive guys – I do appreciate the care and detail that went into pulling off those stunts and action scenes. Cruise goes all in on all of the hand to hand combat and the results are great.

Mission: Impossible 2 is a decent addition to the series and as an action film it’s good. Sure there’s better out there. I just feel this one has gotten a bit of a reputation over the years as being the lesser entry in this franchise and while I can see it has issues it’s hardly what I would call a bad movie. Don’t forget this was uncharted land for Cruise and his fellow producers. For all we knew the next film would have an even more distinct auteur style because that was the direction Cruise felt the series should go. As we know now it never but as a glimpse of what way this series could have went this is an interesting take.





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