Plot: A horrific virus known as Chimera has been engineered, a vicious strain that if released into the world, could infect entire regions in mere days and soon after, perhaps the world. The virus has been stolen by rogue agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott), who impersonated Ethan Hunt in order to secure the samples, as part of a plan to profit from the spread and eventual cure of Chimera. In order to ensure this doesn’t happen, IMF has dispatched the real Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) to track down Ambrose and retrieve both the virus and antidote. He assembles a hand picked team to join him, but he is also tasked to involve Nyah (Thandie Newton), who is a former lover of Ambrose’s and could be used to lower his guard. This creates some tension for both Hunt and Nyah, as the two have gotten close since her recruitment, but the mission is the mission, so both forge ahead. Even as Hunt closes in, Ambrose seems prepared and one step ahead, so is the release of Chimera inevitable at this point?
Entertainment Value: The first Mission: Impossible movie was convoluted, but stuck close to the spy driven teamwork of the source material, while Mission: Impossible II aims for a more pure action experience. John Woo takes the reins here and offers up set piece after set piece of wild, over the top action, while throwing in twists to compensate for the lack of grounded spy elements. The use of realistic masks is one such trick, as you can never be sure if someone is who they claim to be, which of course leads to a number of surprise reveals. These help add that feel of double crosses and manipulation, which this kind of material thrives on. I appreciated the balls out action sequences, but it comes at the cost of the narrative, which is quite simple and lacks all the twists and turns a spy movie should possess. In other words, Mission: Impossible II is dumb, but pretty and that is sure to delight some and disappoint others. Tom Cruise returns of course and gives his usual Ethan Hunt performance, while Dougray Scott is a terrific, sleaze soaked villain that gives him a great foil. Thandie Newton also turns in some good work here, while Brendan Gleeson and Anthony Hopkins have memorable roles as well. So while the lack of spy movie tropes is missed here, Mission: Impossible II is drenched in John Woo style action, so it is a brisk, stylish, and fun watch.
No nakedness. As he makes very clear, Ambrose is gagging for it, but the sex scenes are brief and tame in this one. No blood. There’s some cuts, scrapes, and abrasions, but no real bloodshed present here. I do love the infamous knife to the eye sequence, which still looks awesome and holds up quite well. The action is ample however, with wild and stylish sequences from start to finish. This is signature John Woo, complete with doves to add that extra “this is epic, bad ass action” flavor. Mission: Impossible II has car chases, foot chases, shoot outs, double crosses, shocking reveals, a plane crash, and an epic one on one showdown for the ages. The action is well crafted and soaked in Woo’s style, so it is a lot of fun and holds up over repeat sessions. The dialogue here is passable, with some highlights from Dougray Scott as the villainous Ambrose, especially his “gagging for it” exchange. Ving Rhames offers some fun comic relief in his small role, but otherwise the lines are solid, but not all that memorable. This one has some wild action, but never feels outside the normal boundaries of the genre, as the movie maintains a mainstream feel throughout.
Overall Insanity: 0/10