You Know What I Just Watched: Mission Impossible 2

I just finished watching Mission Impossible 2, or MI2, this morning… And I did not love it! I ended up really liking the first Mission Impossible when I watched it the other day, thanks to thinking of it as a heist movie first, and I thought it was really successful through that lens.

With the first movie, it took about 30 minutes in for me to decide for certain that I hadn’t seen the movie before. With MI2 I paused 50 seconds in to take a moment to accept that yes, I had seen this movie before, and it was thanks to this movie that I thought I didn’t like the Mission Impossible franchise.

Let’s run through the plot:

  1. Generic European scientist inexplicably living in Australia invents a super cure, then invents a super disease because what’s a super cure without a super disease (to be clear, the movie is not nearly that subtle… the opening narration literally describes needing a monster for every hero… dichotomy, get it!?)
  2. The scientist travels with Ethan Hunt after injecting himself with the disease in order to transport it instead of putting it in his bag, because of reasons. It turns out it’s not Ethan Hunt, it’s evil Ethan Hunt (like the monster for the hero like the disease it’s symbolism DO YOU UNDERSTAND!?!)
  3. Ethan has to recruit a chick to get the bad guy who killed all the people and stole the disease. They flirt awkwardly in a bathtub, then have sex by ramming their cars into each other at high speed over a cliff, and then actually have sex. Turns out she needs to be on the team because she used to date evil Ethan Hunt (it’s like they are two sides of the exact same coin!)
  4. The girl steals info from the guy’s left jack pocket, then puts it back in his right jacket pocket… the game is on! Ethan dives through a skylight. This is the heist. The only heist in the movie. The bad guys show up and blow up everything, and the girl injects the virus for reasons.
  5. Ethan punches a lot of people in a hallway and then gets the cure and then rides a motorcycle and then gets in a knife fight and then saves the girl and then the walk away into the sunset.

The plot feels like it’s told in fast forward. The love story happens so quickly and seems so disingenuous, that it’s hard to stay invested… or even to get invested in the first place. When things do happen in this movie, they are always turned up to 11, favoring acrobatic action over any substance. Instead of feeling like a Heist movie with action set pieces, MI2 is an action movie with a half-assed nod at a heist.

The biggest crime, though, is that Ethan Hunt in this movie is completely nonplussed about everything (except his sudden, all-consuming love). In every action scene, he is completely calm, capable, and collected, and has this stupid, stiff expression that makes it seem like he’s too cool to be part of the movie. He’s beyond infallible, he’s completely unflappable, and when the hero doesn’t seem to think there’s any risk in something like, oh, I dunno, riding a motorcycle head-on at another motorcycle and then jumping off the motorcycle at high speed at the same time that the other guy jumps off his motorcycle so that he slams in to the other guy at a +100mph bear-hug and then falls down a cliff face…. it’s hard for us to feel like there’s a risk, either.

I’ve heard that MI2 is the low point of the series, so I’m really looking forward to Mission Impossible 3. Assuming it’s good, I’ll end up picking up 4 and 5, and get caught up to date on this series!

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