Mission: Impossible II ★★★★

Having enjoyed going back to the four Christopher Reeve Superman movies all in one night a few months ago, I decided to likewise revisit all four Mission: Impossible flicks in a single night.

In '95, Entertainment Weekly ran a piece about the return of James Bond in GoldenEye. In it, they asked John Woo his thoughts about making 007 relevant for the post-Cold War 90's:

"Bond should be more human...He should care more about the people in the movie. Also, because I'm John Woo, I'd give him two guns to shoot at the same time."

Woo hasn't gotten to make a Bond movie, but he did get hold of Mission: Impossible for its first sequel. Sure enough, Ethan Hunt cares more about the people in this movie than in the first, and I think that above all else is why I enjoyed it so much. Yes, it's contrived and a lot of character choices are made purely so that the next big set piece can take place, and the late 90's film-making gimmickry feels dated.

I recently listened to a podcast in which Sam Mendes talked about Thomas Newman's score for Skyfall. One of the things he cited was how, in M:I-2, we barely heard Lalo Schifrin's iconic theme and how that disappointed Mendes. On that point, I agree entirely. I tend not to respond very strongly toward Hans Zimmer's music these days, but some of his score for this movie is terrific - especially his Latin-flavored theme for Nyah. I just wish that Schifrin's theme had been used to punctuate some of the movie's several triumphant moments.

The other thing that makes M:I-2 so satisfying is Dougray Scott as the antagonist. He has strong presence in every one of his scenes, so much that whenever he's not on-screen, I found myself wondering his whereabouts. I cared more about Thandie Newton's Nyah, but I didn't really think about where she was much. Probably, that's because she was such a one-dimensional character. Newton's charisma elevated Nyah, that's for sure.

M:I-2 was really the last of the pre-9/11 spy-fi movies, and that makes it a bit of a fascinating specimen. Ah, the halcyon days when bio-terrorism was conceived to create a big pharma windfall instead of a tactic used for the sheer sake of mass murder...!

Mission: Impossible II Re-Ranked on My Flickchart (#215/1620)

Mission: Impossible II > Steven Wright: When the Leaves Blow Away --> #215
Mission: Impossible II > The World Is Not Enough --> #215
Mission: Impossible II > A History of Violence --> #203
Mission: Impossible II < The Spy Who Came in from the Cold --> #203
Mission: Impossible II < Sin City --> #203
Mission: Impossible II < Black Snake Moan --> #203
Mission: Impossible II > Big Fish --> #189
Mission: Impossible II > Muppet Treasure Island --> #183
Mission: Impossible II > Thunderball --> #179
Mission: Impossible II > Ocean's Eleven (2001) --> #178
Mission: Impossible II > Sling Blade --> #177

Mission: Impossible II was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #177/1620