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Rewatch Review – Mission: Impossible II (2000)

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Sometimes things are very finely balanced. One little nudge and things all fall apart all over the place. Such is sometimes the way with the casting of films and Mission: Impossible II is no exception. For example, the role of Mission Commander Swanbeck was originally offered to Ian McKellen. He turned it down due to commitments in the theatre and the part went to Anthony Hopkins. Sir Ian’s agent was flabbergasted when he turned down such a lucrative part that would have, probably, only needed a day or two on set; it ended up taking five days. However, Tom Cruise was tied up working on Eyes Wide Shut with Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick was a renowned perfectionist and overruns were inevitable.

Obviously, Mission: Impossible II couldn’t continue without Ethan Hunt being available so Sir Ian was out and Sir Anthony was in! But, while Ian McKellen would have knocked the role out of the park, the overruns would have meant that he was not available to play Gandalf in The Middle Earth series or Magneto in The X-Men films. Another change to the cast was Dougray Scott. Due to the combination of the overruns and an injury while filming a motorcycle scene, Dougray had to drop out of the role he had secured in The X-Men films. I’ll maintain a little bit of mystery and not say which part he had to drop out from. I’ll just say that he was replaced by Hugh Jackman!

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This Is Not Mission Difficult, Mr. Hunt

I remember looking forward to Mission: Impossible II. I had become quite fond of John Woo’s films and was looking forward to his take on the franchise. I particularly liked Broken Arrow and was fanatical about Face/Off. So I was prepared to go into the cinema with a John Woo bingo card and see how many of his calling cards I could spot. Being honest, it wasn’t difficult! Two handed gun firing. Two handed gun firing while flying through the air. Doves flying through the air, ok pigeons but near enough, stylised slow motion action, and that whooshing sound when someone gets out of a car!  They were all there. I’ve said elsewhere how I like the work of some directors just because of the look of their films and John Woo is one of them.

But for some reason, it wasn’t as popular as other Mission: Impossible films. Apparently, Tom Cruise had decided that each film in the series would have a different look and feel. Maybe, coming second, the fact that it was so very different put people off. Perhaps if it had been third or fourth in a series of differently styled films it may not have been so jarring. There’s no way of telling now if it was just a case of “I don’t like this because it is different”. Still, the fact is that on any list of Mission: Impossible ratings, Mission: Impossible II comes bottom. Well, any that I’ve seen. There could well be a list of John Woo directed films starring Tom Cruise which places it top…

Difficult Should Be A Walk In The Park

Rotten Tomatoes? Mission: Impossible Fallout  gets 97% while Mission: Impossible II gets 56%. IMDb? Mission: Impossible Fallout  gets 7.7 while Mission: Impossible II gets 6.1. Metacritic? Mission: Impossible Fallout  gets 86 while Mission: Impossible II gets 59. The one time when Mission: Impossible II doesn’t come bottom of the list is when you, to quote Mr Cruise, “Show me the money!”  When you look at the worldwide box office figures and take away the budget amount you get a rough approximation to the profit; I know it’s a lot more complicated than that but please bear with me.  By those figures bottom of the heap is Mission: Impossible III with a profit around the $250 million mark. Then comes Mission: Impossible at over $375 million. Then we have Mission: Impossible II with over $420 million. The latter three all easily clear the half billion mark.

So is Mission: Impossible II a bad film? To my mind, no! It is stylish, suspenseful, and entertaining. It has a reasonable story intercut by well choreographed action sequences. Let’s face it, John Woo was renowned mainly for his high octane action films. He’d previously been working with the likes of John Travolta, Nicholas Cage, Chow Yun-Fat, and Jean-Claude Van Damme. He was known for his highly stylised, ultra-violent set pieces. The irony of the matter is that Tom Cruise and Paramount wanted him there for the action sequences while John Woo wanted to concentrate more on the human element. It was the love affair between Ethan Hunt and Nyah Hall (Thandiwe Newton) that got him on board.

Movie Grade: A-

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3 responses to “Rewatch Review – Mission: Impossible II (2000)”

  1. Arrrrg, you’re killing me with these rewatch reviews. I really want to rewatch them myself. I just have to talk the Mrs into it. 🙂

  2. Rob Williams Avatar
    Rob Williams

    Sorry mate! You need to send your Mrs out to work so you can watch what you want during the day! Oops…it helps if you’re retired of course.

  3.  Avatar

    Mission impossible is one of the best series.

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