Mission: Impossible 2

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Mission: Impossible 2
Ethan Hunt running
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Woo
Screenplay byRobert Towne
Story by
Based onMission: Impossible
by Bruce Geller
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyJeffrey L. Kimball
Edited by
Music byHans Zimmer
Production
company
Distributed byParamount Pictures[1]
Release date
  • May 24, 2000 (2000-05-24)
Running time
124 minutes[2]
Countries
LanguageEnglish
Budget$120–125 million[3][4]
Box office$546.3 million[4]

Mission: Impossible 2 (titled onscreen as Mission: Impossible II and abbreviated as M:i-2)[1] is a 2000 action spy film directed by John Woo and produced by and starring Tom Cruise. It is the sequel to Mission: Impossible (1996) and the second installment in the Mission: Impossible film series. The film also stars Dougray Scott, Thandiwe Newton, Richard Roxburgh, John Polson, Brendan Gleeson, Rade Šerbedžija and Ving Rhames. In the film, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) teams with professional thief Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Newton) to secure a genetically modified disease held by rogue Impossible Missions Force (IMF) agent Sean Ambrose (Scott), who is Nordoff-Hall's former lover.

Mission: Impossible 2 was theatrically released in the United States by Paramount Pictures on May 24, 2000, and grossed $546 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of that year. Initial reaction from critics was mixed, with praise for the action sequences and Woo's direction, but criticism for the characterization, deeming the film inferior to the first film. A sequel, Mission: Impossible III, was released in 2006.

Plot[edit]

Bio-genetics scientist Dr. Vladimir Nekhorvich sends a message to the IMF for Dimitri (Ethan Hunt's cover name), his old friend, warning that his employer, Biocyte Pharmaceuticals, forced him to develop a biological weapon to profit from the cure. He injects himself with the Chimera virus, carrying its remedy Bellerophon in a bag. However, en route to Atlanta, IMF agent Sean Ambrose, who was disguised as Dimitri, goes rogue, betrays Nekhorvich, steals Bellerophon, and crashes the plane in the Rockies.

In Seville, IMF director Swanbeck informs Ethan about Ambrose's actions, tasks him with recovering Chimera and Bellerophon, and has him recruit Nyah Nordoff-Hall, a professional thief and Ambrose's ex-girlfriend. Despite her initial reluctance, Ethan gets her to trace Ambrose to Sydney, where Biocyte laboratories are located, using an injectable tracking device. Ethan assembles his team, old friend and computer hacker Luther Stickell and helicopter pilot Billy Baird, and heads to Sydney while Nyah pretends to rekindle her relationship with Ambrose. Ambrose meets with Biocyte's CEO, John McCloy, and uses a video of Chimera infecting one of Nekhorvich's colleagues to blackmail McCloy into cooperating with him.

Nyah gives Ethan the memory card containing the video, revealing that Chimera has a 20-hour dormant period; Bellerophon is only effective if used within that window. Ethan's team kidnaps McCloy and learns that the only Bellerophon samples, taken by Nekhorvich, are now in Ambrose's hands, but he doesn't have the virus, since Nekhorvich injected himself with it. Ambrose realizes Nyah's deception and, disguised as Ethan, tricks her into revealing their plan.

Ethan breaks into Biocyte headquarters and destroys two sample of Chimera, but Ambrose's team engages him in a firefight. At a stalemate, Ambrose orders Nyah to retrieve the virus' last sample, but she injects herself with it instead and begs Ethan to kill her to destroy the virus. Ethan refuses and flees the facility, promising to get her the cure.

Ambrose releases Nyah to wander the streets of Sydney, intending to start a pandemic. He offers to sell Bellerophon to McCloy in exchange for stock options to make him billions as Biocyte's majority shareholder. Ethan infiltrates Ambrose's base and engages in a fight with Ambrose's right-hand man Hugh Stamp; Stamp seemingly brings a subdued Ethan to Ambrose, who executes him. However, Ambrose discovers that the dead "Ethan" is actually Stamp, masked and gagged, while the real Ethan has stolen the Bellerophon samples. Enraged, Ambrose and his men chase after Ethan, who kills them, while Luther and Billy locate Nyah, who has wandered to a cliffside to kill herself and prevent the outbreak.

Ethan kills Ambrose in a fistfight on the beach and gives Bellerophon to the arriving Luther, who injects Nyah with it. The IMF clears Nyah's criminal record and Ethan starts a vacation with her in Sydney.

Cast[edit]

Additionally, Anthony Hopkins appears in an uncredited cameo appearance as Mission Commander Swanbeck.[5] Tom Cruise's cousin William Mapother and Dominic Purcell appear as, respectively, Wallis and Ulrich, two of Ambrose's henchmen.

Production[edit]

William Goldman says he was the first writer on the film. "All that’s left of mine is the climax... the climbing up the rocks sequence," he said. "I couldn’t come up with a good villain and Bob Towne did."[6]

According to screenwriter Robert Towne, several action sequences were already planned for the film prior to his involvement and before the story had been written.[7] Ian McKellen was offered the part of Mission Commander Swanbeck but turned it down.[8]

Earlier drafts of the script included Willy Armitage as one of the team members, though the role would have been recast with a younger actor instead of original cast member Peter Lupus.[9][10][11]

The studio expressed concern about the safety of filming Tom Cruise's entrance scene, in which he is free solo climbing at Dead Horse Point State Park in Moab, Utah.[12] Cruise refused to drop the idea because he could not think of a better way to reintroduce the character. There was no safety net as he filmed the sequence, but he did have a harness and a thin wire.[13] He tore his shoulder when performing the jump from one part of the cliff to another.[14]

Thandiwe Newton discussed her unpleasant on-set experiences with Cruise during the shooting of the balcony sequence in a 2020 interview. According to Newton, Cruise was heavily stressed over the expectations of the sequel being good and was upset during the shooting of said scene because she had "the shittiest lines." The two decided to reverse roleplay each other as practice. However, it was unhelpful for her and pushed her "into a place of terror and insecurity." After the shooting was finished for the day, she contacted Jonathan Demme, telling him what happened. Looking back on that day, Newton said about Cruise, "Bless him. And I really do mean bless him because he was trying his damnedest."[15][16][17]

During the final fight scene between Ethan Hunt and Sean Ambrose, Tom Cruise insisted that a real knife be used. The knife was attached to a cable and was carefully measured to stop a quarter of an inch from Tom Cruise's eyeball, and the actor asked Dougray Scott to put his full strength down on the knife to get a realistic look for the scene.

Music[edit]

The film's original score was composed and conducted by Hans Zimmer and features vocals performed by Lisa Gerrard.[18] In addition, the film includes contemporary music such as Limp Bizkit's rendition of Lalo Schifrin's Mission: Impossible theme entitled "Take a Look Around" as well as Metallica's "I Disappear".[19]

About the score, Zimmer said: “The love theme from Mission: Impossible [II] was written about 6 weeks before they started shooting. I was on it that early. Then, we had a big meeting in Australia. They had the love theme, and I knew what the story was about, and I always thought it was about these two men being in love with the girl. So I said to the record company guy, "Look, here's one thing I would love you to do, when you find bands for me, make them all female. Make them all about sirens." Of course, what did I get? A bunch of heavy metal bands with guys. I promise you, it would have been a better movie, and it would have been a better score.“[20]

While Ethan is rock climbing during his holiday, Zap Mama's remixed version of "Iko Iko" plays on the soundtrack.

Release[edit]

Home media[edit]

Mission: Impossible 2 was released on VHS and DVD on November 7, 2000,[21][22] with a rare Japanese LaserDisc release following on April 3, 2001[23] (released late in the format's life), with a potential North American release of this LaserDisc being cancelled in mid-2001.[24] A Blu-ray release followed on June 3, 2008, and an Ultra HD Blu-ray version was released on June 26, 2018.[25]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

On opening day, Mission: Impossible 2 made $12.5 million, making it the fourth-highest-grossing Wednesday opening, behind Men in Black, Independence Day and Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. At that time, it had the largest number of screenings, playing at 3,653 theaters and beating Scream 3.[26] The film would go on to hold this record until it was surpassed by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone the following year.[27] It grossed $57,845,297, crossing over Toy Story 2 to have the third-highest-grossing opening weekend of all time, behind The Lost World: Jurassic Park and The Phantom Menace.[28] Moreover, the film surpassed its predecessor Mission: Impossible for not only having the highest-grossing opening weekend for a film based on a TV show, but also the largest opening weekend for any Paramount film. It also dethroned Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me for scoring the biggest opening weekend for a spy film.[28] The latter record would be held until 2002 when it was given to Austin Powers in Goldmember.[29] Three years later in 2005, War of the Worlds surpassed Mission: Impossible 2 for having the highest-grossing opening weekend for a Paramount film.[30] Then in 2007, The Simpsons Movie took the record for having the biggest opening weekend for a film based on a TV show.[31] As for Mission: Impossible 2, it earned $91.8 million in its first six days, becoming the second-largest Memorial Day opening weekend, just after The Lost World: Jurassic Park.[32]

When Mission: Impossible 2 first opened, the film was ranked number one at the box office, topping out Dinosaur.[33] It held on to the number one spot for two weekends until it was overtaken by Gone in 60 Seconds.[34] Around this time, the film went on to become the highest-grossing film of the year domestically, beating Gladiator.[35] It would remain so until that December when it was dethroned by How the Grinch Stole Christmas.[36] The film eventually grossed $215,409,889 in its North American release and $330,978,216 in other territories for a total worldwide gross of $546,388,105, making this the highest-grossing film of 2000.[4] It is John Woo's highest-grossing film, surpassing Face/Off, and was the highest-grossing film in the Mission: Impossible series until the release of the fourth film, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, in 2011.

Critical response[edit]

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes indicates Mission: Impossible 2 has an overall approval rating of 56% based on 155 reviews, with an average rating of 5.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Your cranium may crave more substance, but your eyes will feast on the amazing action sequences."[37] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 59 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[38] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, down from the first film's "B+".[39]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film three stars, stating "if the first movie was entertaining as sound, fury, and movement, this one is more evolved, more confident, more sure-footed in the way it marries minimal character development to seamless action."[40] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly felt the film was a "throwaway pleasure" but also "a triumph of souped-up action."[41] Ella Taylor of LA Weekly said that "every car chase, every plane crash, every potential drop off a cliff is a masterpiece of grace and surprise."[42] Desson Howe of The Washington Post said that "[John] Woo [...] takes complete command of the latest technology to create brilliant action sequences."[43]

J. Hoberman of The Village Voice called the film "a vaguely absurd thriller filled with elaborately superfluous setups and shamelessly stale James Bond riffs."[44] Dennis Harvey of Variety said the film is "even more empty a luxury vehicle than its predecessor" and that it "pushes the envelope in terms of just how much flashy packaging an audience will buy when there's absolutely nada inside."[45] Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader said that "no hero or villain winds up carrying any moral weight at all."[46]

In a retrospective commentary in 2012, Brad Brevet noted the film has significant similarities in plot and themes to Alfred Hitchcock's 1946 film Notorious.[47]

Accolades[edit]

Mission: Impossible 2 won both Best Male Performance for Tom Cruise and Best Action Sequence at the MTV Movie Awards.[48] However, it was also nominated for two Golden Raspberry Awards at the 2000 ceremony, including Worst Remake or Sequel and Worst Supporting Actress for Thandiwe Newton[49] as well as nominated for a Stinker Award at the 2000 ceremony for Worst Song (Limp Bizkit's "Take a Look Around").[50]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]