Mission: Impossible II aka M:I-2
Director: John Woo
Starring: Tom Cruise, Thandie Newton, Ving Rhames, Dougray Scott, Anthony Hopkins
You know, that was the hardest part about having to portray you, grinning like an idiot every fifteen minutes.
It took a little longer than normal, but 4 years later, Mission: Impossible returned. And seemingly due to the complaints of those audiences, it was completely revamped. It was with this entry that the series' standard of being a director's sandbox to play in was put into full effect and became what these movies are about. If anything was clear from the marketing to Tom Cruise's haircut, this was going to be a whole different experience than the first one.
John Woo took the reigns on this film, that has now become one of those "time capsule" movies (Limp Bizkit on the theme song!) that it doesn't feel the slightest bit like it could be of another time. People make fun and parody now, but John Woo was the action master from his Hong Kong films revitalizing the action picture with such classics as Hard Boiled and The Killer. He had come to America with mixed success in terms of quality but was following some hits nonetheless. While nobody's perfect, I do enjoy the mix of Hard Target, Broken Arrow and Face/Off that he brought to the table. If they were going in an action direction, there was no better person to pick. Seemingly with this film, Woo almost parodies himself in many places, but never bluntly stating it.
While the first film had a lot of players amidst a certain trap or game, this movie solely focuses on Ethan Hunt and the bravado of Tom Cruise. Its his story, and really every one else is pretty much second tier or for him to bounce off of. With this being the case, its kind of an anomaly in the M:I canon. Ving Rhames is here again, and he's the constant that ties Hunt back to the first one, but he's really just there to service Hunt and nothing more.
This film definitely trades the smarts and patience of the first one for more hardcore action and more "cool". Its a silly and dumb movie, but its very enjoyable to watch. I remember seeing it in the summer of 2000 and enjoying it a lot. Then talking to nit picky friends later on through the summer and college, I almost felt really stupid for liking it. But for me, in terms of action, it absolutely delivered in what it was trying to do. This movie was also a very big success and is still the highest grossing domestically of the series.
I recently did a commentary track on Mission: Impossible II for Out Now with Aaron & Abe (also featuring guest Peter Paras), where we discussed this movie and Tom Cruise in some great detail. You can have a listen in the link below. Trust me, you don't need to be watching the movie or have it on to enjoy. The discussions entertain enough themselves.
NEXT TIME: Ethan Hunt cosplays Sydney Bristow
Let us not also forget this gem