Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)

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When I began watching the Mission: Impossible movies recently, I expected a similar trajectory for the series that I experienced with The Fast & The Furious. I assumed that the Tom Cruise super spy franchise would start with an ungodly mess of rap rock era machismo, but eventually find its way into something a little more respectable & cohesive. What I found was that the first film was a surprisingly classy action flick from a precious moment in pop culture that came just before America’s rap rock dark times. The first Mission: Impossible film was campy, sure, but it was also excessive & dated in an entirely enjoyable way that I thought wouldn’t come until much later into the series.

It turns out that the rap rock garbage fire I was expecting from the first film was actually well & alive in the the second installment in the series, Mission: Impossible 2. M:I-2 ditches the Brian De Palma sense of 60s chic for a laughably bad excess of X-treme 90s bad taste helmed by John Woo. The drop in quality from the first film to the next was so drastic that it’d almost be more believable if M:I-2 were a spiritual sequel to Woo’s ludicrous Nic Cage trashterpiece Face/Off than it having anything to do with Brian De Palma’s film at all. He even recycled the slow-motion dove flapping from Face/Off, which was released just a few years before this stinker.

Almost everything pleasant about the first Mission:Impossible film is absent in the second. De Palma’s over-the-top abuse of camera trickery is replaced by straight-faced action movie blandness accompanied by non-sarcastic record scratches. Any enjoyment derived from the removal of faces in the first film is ruined here by an unrestrained overuse of the gimmick (this really should’ve been a second Face/Off film). The Danny Elfman score from the first film was supplanted by (I’m not kidding, here) a goddamn Limp Bizkit cover of the film’s original theme. Even Tom Cruise’s hair got douchier. He’s got these awful, long-flowing locks that swing in the breeze as he shows off his leather jacket on his super cool motor bike that he slides around on while shooting his gun with wild abandon. God, I hate this movie. Pretty much the only element of the first film that comes through unscathed is Ving Rhames, who remains a delight in every scene he’s afforded.

Here’s to hoping that the series bounces back from what has got to be its darkest hour. In the year 2000, when this film was released, I was a dumb kid who probably would’ve loved a Limp Bizkit soundtracked love letter to late 90s X-treme marketing & Tom Cruise’s shitty, shitty hair, but fifteen years later I’m desperately missing the campy, but classy 60s super spy homage of the first film. If the series somehow keeps spiraling down in quality this drastically (an Impossible proposition if I’ve ever heard one), I don’t think I’m going to make it to the other side.

-Brandon Ledet

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7 thoughts on “Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)

  1. Wasn’t the theme for DePalma’s version technically done by Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr, aka the rhythm section for U2? Limp Bizkit’s a downgrade either way, though this theme qualifies as far and away the most tolerable thing they ever did, seeing as Durst wasn’t involved (I like to think he went to the recording studio with the band anyway, and just silently thrashed away while the band played around him).

    I admit that I saw this film when I was a teenager and therefore still have a certain amount of affection for it. Plenty of Cruise’s stunts seem suitably crazy, Dougray Scott is clearly having fun chewing the scenery, and Thandie Newton is a more charismatic and badass romantic interest than this series ever deserved (whatever happened to Newton anyway? She had a great talent for elevating trash into something watchable). And I’ll say this for Woo, he takes all the 90s excess and craziness that was going on around him and amps it up to 11, which is the only possible way it could have worked. It doesn’t, quite, but when Cruise and Scott are having a kung-fu fight on the beach in slow motion for approximately three hours (after they have presumably broken about 100 bones each from jumping off speeding motorcycles, slamming together in midair, and falling off a cliff), the whole proceedings reach this crescendo of operatic excess that, for me, is impossible to entirely dismiss.

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    • Definitely the last half hour or so where they’re sliding around on bikes in the open air & fighting over a hand gun the sand is the only stretch where the movie actually threatens to be enjoyable. I also got a good laugh out of the doves. I was just so worn out by the time the movie got there that I was a bit numb to it.

      As for the music note, the Danny Elfman credit was a poor assumption on my part because of his name in the opening credits, I guess. I should fix that!

      Did you happen to see Going Clear earlier this year? The way Cruise is posing like a badass on the motorbike reminded me a lot of his relationship with the Scientology dude, which also soured the movie in a weird way that I didn’t even get to here.

      -Brandon

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