We're closing in on the official release date for Mission: Impossible -- Fallout, and many fans who have already had a chance to see the movie are hailing it as one of the franchise's best installments yet. What Tom Cruise has managed to do with this series is nothing less than impressive, but with so many fans praising the latest film, now feels like a good time to look back and re-assess Mission: Impossible 2.
The reason for this is simple: many contend that it's the worst of the franchise. However, while it certainly has its flaws, I think it's time to stop hating on John Woo's action hit and hone in on all of the reasons why it's actually better than some of us remember. With that in mind, let's kick things off by focusing on the sheer strength of the film's action.
The Gunplay And Fights Hold Up
Right off the bat, we need to address the fact that Mission: Impossible 2 arguably works best when John Woo is allowed to do what John Woo does best: direct stellar action. Mission: Impossible 2 is one of the more violent entries in the series, and Woo's knack for filming great gunfights and hand-to-hand fight scenes shines through in many of the sequel's best moments. Between the showstopper shootout in the lab at the top of a high-rise, the motorcycle chase through the outskirts of Sydney, and the climactic fight between Ethan Hunt and Sean Ambrose, Mission: Impossible 2's reputation for adrenaline-pumping action sequences is hard to argue against. Sure, it's not as narratively complex as its predecessor, but man, does it deliver on spectacle.
It Set The Franchise's Stuntwork Standard
There is no denying that the Langley break-in scene and the train sequence from the original Mission: Impossible are nothing less than extraordinary. That said, it wasn't until the release of Mission: Impossible 2 that audiences got a real taste of the kind of danger that Tom Cruise was willing to put himself through for the sake of this franchise. In fact, the very first scene featuring Ethan Hunt is a now-iconic sequence of him scaling the cliffs of Dead Horse Point in Utah, which Cruise famously did with minimal safety equipment to aid him. Putting all of that into perspective, it's easy to see how Mission: Impossible 2 largely paved the way for even more impressive stunt scenes like the Burj Khalifa scene in Ghost Protocol and the plane stunt in Rogue Nation.