Four years after the original Tom Cruise led film, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE II (known as M:I-2 for those so inclined) proved to be a big hit at the box office, while almost derailing the series before it really got rolling.
Cruise is in fine form, free climbing massive rock formations, spinning motorcycles at high speeds and running faster than any wide receiver as Ethan Hunt.
This time, Hunt is after the series most boring villain, Sean Ambrose, underplayed by Dougray Scott and underwritten by the normally brilliant Robert Towne (Chinatown).
Ambrose has a super virus called Chimera that could infect the world, blah-blah. Been there, seen that.
Towne had famously said that Director Woo brought him four huge action scenes and then asked Towne to write a story around them. That backwards approach shows, with the same over complicated plotting that was the biggest criticism of the first film, still in play.
Luckily, Cruise has Thandie Newton (Solo, HBO's Westworld) to play off of as Nyla. She's beautiful, mysterious and intriguing as she goes undercover with her lover Ambrose while working with Hunt.
As you know, you're never quite sure who is on which side in these films, it's half the fun.
The biggest problem with Part 2 is director John Woo. The hottest flavor of the day in 2000, Woo created some huge hits like 'Face-Off" and "Broken Arrow'".
I LOVED "Face-Off" when it hit theaters. After watching this again, I'm almost afraid to revisit that film fave. I hope it holds up better than this one.
Woo seems obsessed with slow motion shots of doves, slow motion shots of Cruise's long hair wrapping around his head, slow motion shots of motorcycles performing ridiculous stunts.....its really exhausting when it isn't just plain stupid.
Ving Rhames is wasted here and I found myself bored between big action scenes. Scott may be the most paper thin bad guy in recent history.
Cruise, as usual, gives it 110% and does a great job when his performance isn't buried underneath Woo's heavy handed styling.
The next film came almost six years later, taking a terrific turn into its current fine form that continues four films later and counting.
As for M:I-2, I'd call it boring, over-wrought and goofy, earning a C-.