Often cited as the downfall of the Mission: Impossible franchise, I’m probably amongst the few that don’t hate Mission: Impossible II as much as the general public appears to, for at least what’s offered in Mission: Impossible II feels much less restrictive compared to the overtly convoluted nature of the first film. In spite of said weaknesses in the first, Mission: Impossible II is also not a film without its own faults for while it may be a rather slight improvement from the first, there’s not enough on the inside that can create a good enough film worthy of a recommendation.
The biggest setback to Mission: Impossible II is its subpar screenplay, which is something I find rather surprising considering the fact that much like the first film, it’s penned by Robert Towne who was responsible for the masterful script of Chinatown. Especially where we most notice it, the dialogue is rather clunky and the structure has so much more of a nature to ramble. To its credit, the biggest fault that we have here is not convolution, which already signifies improvement from the first Mission: Impossible film but another problem it shares with the first is how it does not sustain enough interest from the viewers for the real plot which it provides.
John Woo’s greatest strength as a director is how he can take a seemingly weak plot and churn out something rather exciting for his viewers. At least in the case of Face/Off, the self-awareness to how cheesy the plot sounds aids the aesthetic which Woo provides, and it’s the best aspect to Mission: Impossible II. The bare bones of the plot give away its weaknesses yet on its surface level, John Woo unleashes the energy that characterizes his work which helps in providing a more enjoyable experience in comparison to the dullness of the first film. While there’s a distinctive cheesiness to John Woo’s Hollywood fare, his self-awareness in regards to this very aspect (something which aided Face/Off significantly) adds more of a sense of excitement, for the times in which we are laughing at how things move on, John Woo laughs together with his audience.
What’s also to be expected under John Woo’s direction is a plethora of exciting action sequences. Mission: Impossible II, in the traditional John Woo fashion, has so much more of these and the frenetic energy to them shows especially in the second half, where it’s especially clear that John Woo has indeed put his name all over this film. Though at times some of these sequences become incomprehensible, what also helps out is how John Woo is staging them from start to finish, and it’s ultimately what I love seeing out of his own body of work.
It’s also a misstep at hand when much like Brian De Palma, John Woo’s case is another film that succumbs to the tropes of the spy film. While at least seeing that Mission: Impossible II feels much more free to the director’s vision in comparison to the first film, it’s not immune to the flaws that were prevalent in its predecessor. New characters go somewhat underdeveloped once again, and moments come by that show a sense of dullness especially within the first half. Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt once again is the strongest aspect, for he’s built himself into this character so amazingly, but he’s all that truly came out as rather remarkable in here.
Mission: Impossible II isn’t the failure that some may deem it to be but it’s ultimately too flawed to really be called a good film. At least when John Woo is letting himself shine especially in the second half, what we’re offered turns out rather glorious but that doesn’t excuse what was so problematic about the first Mission: Impossible film. We can laugh all we want at where the plot is moving forward, for at least we know that John Woo is indeed laughing together with us. From there alone, it was something I enjoyed a little more than the first.
Watch the trailer right here:
All images via Paramount.
Directed by John Woo
Screenplay by Robert Towne, from the television series by Bruce Geller
Produced by Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner
Starring Tom Cruise, Dougray Scott, Thandie Newton, Richard Roxburgh, John Polson,
Brendan Gleeson, Rade Šerbedžija, Ving Rhames
Release Year: 2000
Running Time: 120 minutes