“M:i – 2” (DVD)

The first impossible mission a success, Paramount doubled the budget and Cruise and Wagner got to work on a second impossible mission, “M:i – 2”. This time, with John Woo behind the camera and a fresh script from Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore (of ‘Star Trek’ fame), screenplay by the first Mission’s Robert Towne, a virus, Chimera and its antidote, Bellerorphon have been stolen and a 747 crashed in the Rocky Mountains.  Amongst the dead is Chimera’s creator, Dr. Nehkorvich (Rade Serbedzija).  Ethan Hunt and his IMF team of Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Billy Baird (John Polson) are tasked with finding rogue IMF agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott), who crashed the plane and stole the virus.  To woo Ambrose, Hunt is ordered by his commander, Swanbeck (played by Anthony Hopkins), to use Ambrose’s former flame and professional thief, Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton).

This second impossible mission has some solid elements, but is weighed down by Woo’s stylized action, weak characterizations and over-pumped sexual tensions.  While Cruise and Rhames are strong, and Newton makes for a good sexual foil for Hunt, the remaining characters disappear amongst the action bits, almost seeming second natured.  The fact that Ambrose was a double for Hunt on a former mission seemed far-fetched, almost like Hitchcock’s MacGuffin. The difference is that Hitchcock’s invention worked.  One of the better characters is Hopkins’ Swanbeck.  He’s on screen a very short while, but his presence is felt throughout the film.

A highlight of the film is Jeffrey Kimball’s cinematography taking advantage of key locations in Sydney and Seville.  Hans Zimmer handles Lalo Schiffrin’s theme quite adeptly and his score fits the mood of the film.  Perhaps it’s the laid back nature of the land from down under, but it seemed that the overuse of stylized action combined with a  lack of characterization and a weak villain make this film a lessor entry in the series.

Paramount’s DVD features an anamorphic 2.35:1 aspect ratio.  Picture quality looked quite good, but appeared dated.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound track made good use of surround channels and vocals appeared to be quite good.  Features include several making of featurettes and a music video.

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