Caveat: I do like MI:-2. It’s shamelessly glossy star vehicle fun. Visually engaging. Of its time and yet still pertinent.
That being said? ‘Tis a lesser loved ‘Mission‘ movie by most accounts. Not least because its sexual politics, romantic dynamic and plot are all overstretched and undercooked. John Woo apparently has a longer cut of this movie. HOW? As is, it’s thin, reliant on travelogue and close up montages of WALKING. All those weaknesses tie together imho in one scene.
THE MISSION BRIEFING! It does not destroy the movie or undermine the triumphs of Cruise in the series. But it does feel awkward, at best, 21 years later. Here’s why.
- Anthony Hopkins in cameo. But WHHHYYYY? I get he liked having fun at this stage and McKellan was booked out (would also have been miscast btw /imho, but anyway). Hopkins’ career happens in phases like that. He takes a liking to a mood/genre and goes with it. cf: ZORRO, TRANSFORMERS: LAST KNIGHT and BAD COMPANY et al. So yes, a big name cameo suits that spirit.
- Except he cannot just let it go, here. Anthony, Sir: your role here is that of mission briefing. You aint the bad guy or romantic lead in this one. So why the sinister close ups, purring and smiling like a lunatic? It just feels very off. Sorry! It’s a like a kid in a school play in a small role elongating lines to play with the sixth form stars.
- The baddie’s plan is all but outlined in full. He has taken control of a virus. Wants to sell/use it. WHY NOT JUST SEND IN AN ARMY OF HARD BASTARDS TO BEAT HIM INTO CONFESSION? Search his quarters. Locate the package.
- IE: THERE IS NO NEED TO as Cruise’s Ethan Hunt puts it: ‘roll up a snowball and toss it into hell’ with the plan to use Thandie Newton to seduce Dougray Scott.
- The sexual politics here were questionable, even in a nearly 20 years pre #metoo movement. ‘To get a woman to go to bed with a man and lie to him? She has all the training she needs’. NO! WRONG on SO many levels!!
- Macabre, complacent and needless fixation on the plane crash that sets up the action. WHY would you offer to show screen shots of the wreckage to your chosen agent in the field?
- Unless IMF is all full of evil bastards, then why is there yet ANOTHER rogue agent, let loose, to cause carnage? Presumably they keep tabs on agents, past and present, anyway? THEY FIND TOM CRUISE ON A ROCK IN UTAH! So quite how Sean Ambrose (Scott) not only ran away but still has access to masks / voice encoders to mimic Hunt (Cruise) is a BIT odd, in retrospect.
- What’s with the pseudo-erudite commentary filler about burning saints? Not clever or cool.
- Too many glossily lingering close ups of Cruise and his now longer hair. It’s perfectly pleasant, visually, as is the whole movie, but at odds with Ethan Hunt supposedly being some sort of military grade super-spy /superman etc? This looks like a shampoo or aftershave commercial.
But hey: I still enjoy the movie and put it on, regularly. How else would I have dissected one scene in such detail but for my having it on in the background a lot? So it’s just one scene. The mission itself remains intact. Though not as good as the first movie in the Mission:Impossible series or as inventive as Ghost Protocol / Fallout, it is more distinctive than the third movie and braver/faster than the fifth.
MI:2’s editing by Christian Wagner and score by Hans Zimmer are excellent. Dougray Scott is very cool, 007 material here. It’s an injustice that he is now a cameo player on Batwoman while certain other less talented/charismatic counterparts get big star status via one Netflix/Marvel hit.
The visual signatures of John Woo in M:I-2 imho have legacy: cropping up again in the somewhat overpraised THE DARK KNIGHT (I prefer Batman Begins /Dark Knight Rises, as I often point out).
Seriously: look at the shots of skyscrapers at night with the hero facing the neon lights against a ticking clock. Just sayin’, like.
This blog post will self destruct. I disavow authorship if caught. Have a great week!