by Jason Callen,
This is a bad movie. It really is. Its screenplay by Robert Towne, from a story by TV writers Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga, is a shameless rip off of Hitchcock’s Notorious. This is ironic given that this is the least Hitchcockian of all the M: I entries. Why? Because this one is directed by John Woo and there is no mistaking it for anything else than a John Woo film. He even throws in some slow motion doves and a reference to his own film The Killer. Initially this drastic change of style was off putting but having seen all the films and understanding that that the intention was to bring in a new director for each new film, this one, while bad, does stand out as the most visually unique of the sequels. In a pre-Bourne Identity, pre-Casino Royale cinematic world, action films could still be balletic and of course, that is Woo’s bread and butter.
Cheesy and a bit dated Mission: Impossible II still has its charms, most notable of which is Thandie Newton as Nyah. Thrown into the plot with only the most minimal of set up, she manages to make us believe these men would do anything to be with her. She is both beautiful and sweet but dangerous and exciting at the same time. She’s a male fantasy given flesh, and the film really belongs to her. It seems ridiculous for a man in Hunt’s profession to even consider having a romantic relationship, but if anyone is going to make believe a Mission: Impossible movie could end with Hunt arm-in-arm with a woman, walking off to a bright future, it’s Newton’s Nylah. It’s still a bad film but not the worst of the series. That would come six years later.
Stay tuned for further exploration of the Mission: Impossible franchise.