I was disappointed in Mission: Impossible, mainly because it tossed aside most of what made the original TV series great, replacing it with an overcomplicated plot and action movie heroics. So I went into the sequel expecting little.
Well, what can I say – this one succeeds by throwing out even more of the TV series. Only pone-bred rednecks would have trouble following this plot.
Ex-IMF agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott), disguised as team leader Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), steals a genetically-engineered plague virus, with plans to make a fortune selling the antidote (which he’s also stolen). Hunt and his team are called in (by special guest star Anthony Hopkins) to retrieve the bugs and take down the bad guys.
To do this, Hunt enlists Ambrose’ old girlfriend, cat burglar Nyah Nordolf-Hall (Thandie Newton of Beloved) to use her wiles to infiltrate the gang. As an added Hollywood complication, Ethan and Nyah fall madly in love at first sight.
Nyah succeeds in locating the McGuffin, and from then on it’s one big chase, fight and explosion action masterpiece.
The key to the film’s success came when Cruise told director John Woo to make the film his own. Woo did so, grabbing hold of all the toys he could never afford back in his Hong Kong days and pumping up the excitement that’s his trademark. Cruise, who had never even thrown a punch before on-screen, proves himself a action star able to stand with the best of them. This is a big, stupid, lovable monster of an action film, much better than Brian De Palma’s original.