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Film / Mission: Impossible II

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Swanbeck: So you think this will be difficult?
Ethan: Very.
Swanbeck: Well, Mr. Hunt, this is not 'Mission: Difficult', it's 'Mission: Impossible'. 'Difficult' should be a walk in the park for you.

Mission: Impossible II, stylized as M:I-2 is a 2000 action spy thriller film and the second entry in the Mission: Impossible film series, starring Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt.

Ethan is snagged out of a vacation to track down rogue IMF agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) living in Sydney who has stolen a very dangerous virus and has malicious plans for it. He is sent to recruit Classy Cat-Burglar Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandiwe Newton) and ends up falling for her. That is made all the more complicated when he learns that she is an ex-girlfriend of the rogue agent and the agency wants her to infiltrate his group. Ethan has to put aside his personal feelings as he tries to stay one step ahead of his rival.

Directed by John Woo and it is plain to see, as this film is far more stylized and action-packed, with less cloak and dagger than the first film or the franchise as a whole.


Followed by Mission: Impossible III.

This film provides examples of:

  • Actionized Sequel: The film packs way more action than the first Mission: Impossible. It helps that John Woo is a specialist in the action genre.
  • Actor Allusion: The use of "Iko-Iko" during Ethan Hunt's introductory scene. Can you think of another film starring Tom Cruise which also features (a cover of) the same song?
  • Affectionate Pickpocket: Nyah sidles up against Ambrose to steal a valuable envelope. She's successful the first time, but he notices when she does it again to return it (and she puts it in the wrong pocket, which would have tipped him off anyway).
  • And Starring: "And Ving Rhames".
  • Artistic License – Engineering: To steal the virus by staging an air crash, Stamp simulates a loss of pressure and deploys the oxygen masks, which knocks out the passengers, co-pilot and flight engineer with sleeping gas. The problem with this is that, in real-life airliners, while the flight crew have a shared oxygen supply, the passenger masks are fuelled by individual chemical generators.
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  • Artistic License – Religion: The film's portrayal of the Spanish Holy Week in Seville is bad. It mixes the Holy Week (a Spanish religious festival that is celebrated in April) with the burning monuments of the Fallas (another Spanish festival, non-religious and completely unrelated to the previous, which only takes place in March in the city of Valencia) and shows people wearing attires from the San Fermín (yet another unrelated festival which, again, only takes place in Pamplona, and in mid-summer). To understand it better, this would be the equivalent of a non-American film set in US managing to mix Thanksgiving Day with Mardi Gras and Saint Patrick's Day.
  • Backstab Backfire: With a gun and a vial of Bellerophon!
  • Bad Boss: Ambrose doesn't take criticism well, as Hugh finds out when he confronts Ambrose about keeping Nyah around.
  • Big Bad: Sean Ambrose, a rogue IMF operative who is going to steal and release a gene-engineered super-virus to become incredibly rich by way of a backdoor deal with the very company that not only invented the virus but its cure as well.
  • Blofeld Ploy: Ambrose has his gun against what seems to be Ethan Hunt's head. It is expected that he will kill McCloy, whom he is talking to. However, he instead shoots and kills Hunt. Minutes later, the subversion is subverted when it is revealed that the Hunt that was killed was actually Ambrose's chief lieutenant (courtesy of Latex Perfection).
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Considered to be the most violent of the Mission: Impossible movies, to the point where it was almost given an R rating.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: The second movie shows little throat patches that are able to alter their voice into the voice of whoever they are imitating through Latex Perfection. The third film not only shows how said latex masks are made, but also the voice strips; they require voice samples of the target making various commonly used syllables.
  • Cacophony Cover Up:
    • "The generators will cover the sound of Hunt's break in."
    • Nyah's theft of the necklace early in the movie involves a similar trick. To cover the sound of her high heels as she runs to the room where the necklace is kept, she only runs while dancers downstairs are dancing, making their own heels-on-floor noise.
  • The Cameo: Anthony Hopkins turns up unbilled.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: In the climax of the movie, Nyah injects herself with the last sample of the Chimera virus. If Ambrose kills her then, before the virus replicates enough to be harvested or reaches its contagious phase, he will lose the obscene amount of money he planned to make selling the antidote for the virus.
  • Carrying the Antidote: Turned inside-out. A scientist creates the ultimate flu vaccine - also producing the ultimate superflu in the process. Of course things are the right way around once the villain gets his hands on the suitcase. The villain also had an interesting way of selling the vaccine, as surprisingly, he did not ask for a ransom.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • A somewhat obvious (after the fact) example: Luther accidentally pulls up the location of the final part of the movie on display, before moving to the actual building of interest at the time.
    • Hugh's bandaged finger, which Ambrose had mutilated earlier.
  • Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb: Happens to Ethan Hunt whilst on holiday free soloing - rock climbing without ropes - at Dead Horse Point in Utah.
  • Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity: Ethan is introduced climbing Dead Horse Point in Utah barehanded before he gets his mission briefing. Keep in mind he was doing that for fun. He was on vacation.
  • Cool Guns:
    • This being a John Woo film, Ethan dual wields 9mm Berettas.
    • Luther uses a Colt 9mm SMG during the final chase.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: And McCloy admits it with gusto.
    McCloy: I, John C. McCloy, ordered the creation of Chimera and I did it for the money!
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Ethan does this during the climbing scene. Afterwards he becomes an unstoppable demigod rather than the secret agent he was in the first movie.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: An inversion. Ambrose plans on releasing a stolen and deadly virus on the entire planet, but only so he can subsequently sell the cure and make billions legitimately.
  • Dare to Be Badass: After Swanbeck gives Hunt his latest oddball mission, Hunt points out that what he's being asked to do is 'pretty difficult'. In what is possibly one of the movie's best lines, he responds, "Well, this isn't "Mission: Difficult", Mr. Hunt, it's "Mission: Impossible". "Difficult" will be a walk in the park."
  • Darker and Edgier: This is not only the darkest in the series (at least until Fallout), but also the one that came closest to being slapped with an R rating. It has a higher rating in most countries for this reason.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Ethan disguises himself as the dead Russian scientist to get information out of John McCloy
  • Dead Star Walking: Rade Šerbedžija (a notable European character actor) gets killed off in the first scene after "Ethan Hunt" (Sean Ambrose in disguise) knocks him out and crashes the plane he is traveling on.
  • Decoy Getaway: Ethan Hunt affixes a latex mask to Hugh Stamp, and escapes as Ambrose guns down Stamp, mistaking him as Hunt.
  • Disguised Hostage Gambit: There is a rare example of the hero pulling this on the villain, with the aid of a couple of Latex Perfection masks.
  • Disposable Love Interest: The film closes with Ethan and Nyah living happily ever after. The third film opens with him marrying a different woman, and Nyah is never spoken of again.
  • Disturbed Doves: Courtesy of John Woo, of course! Way too many appear at the climax, nesting in the Biocyte storage facility.
  • The Dragon: Hugh Stamp to Sean Ambrose.
  • Dull Surprise: Thandiwe Newton barely changes her expression whether trying to convey seduction, loyalty, betrayal, etc.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Vlad infects John McCloy with the Chimera virus, and will only give him the antidote if he confesses to leaking it. However, it's all a trick, and Vlad is really Ethan in disguise with a tape recorder hidden under his coat
  • Evil Counterpart: Sean Ambrose is literally this; he would oft be disguised as Ethan in previous missions when working for IMF due to their similar facial structure, and would explain why he'd also have the masks and voice strips of Hunt once he went rogue. Word of God labels this as one of the reasons he turned traitor in the first place, as he was sick of so many of his missions involving impersonating another agent.invoked
  • Eviler than Thou: McCloy ordered the creation of Chimera and Bellerophon to make a lot of money. And he's nothing next to Ambrose, who even forces him to get on his knees at gunpoint at the climax strictly for the sake of doing a Blofeld Ploy for fun.
  • Eye Scream: Ambrose's knife stops just millimeters away from Ethan's eye. This was no effect; they actually stabbed at the stuntman's eye with the knife, and it actually went that close. Sure, they had a frame rigged up with a rope so it couldn't stab him, but still.
  • Facial Horror: The pictures of what the Chimera virus does. The poor guy's skin looks like it's flaking, and he has some nasty Blood from the Mouth.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Ambrose can be witty and charming but is a violent psychopath who snaps easily.
  • Final Battle: Ethan escaping Ambrose and his men in a high-speed motorcycle chase, followed by a fistfight between Ethan and Ambrose on a beach.
  • Fingore: Ambrose cut off the tip (or a slice) of Hugh's finger with a cigar cutter. Subverted by a Gory Discretion Shot of sorts, cutting to the horse track encounter between Nyah and Ethan.
  • For the Evulz: Ambrose loves nothing more than taking time to gloat before sadistically killing people and he is mentioned as having been unstable long before his betrayal. It's even a Fatal Flaw as Ethan uses the time he takes to gloat over a double he murders to get away with the virus.
  • Genius Bruiser: Sean Ambrose. Goes with being a former agent.
  • Go Seduce My Archnemesis: A particularly agonizing example. Ethan Hunt recruits Nyah without knowing her true purpose, and promptly beds and falls in love with her, only to find that Swanbeck wants Nyah to seduce Ambrose. Needless to say, Ethan is not happy.
  • Guns Akimbo: This being a John Woo film, Ethan Hunt does this with a pair of Berettas.
  • The Heavy: The film lacks a straightforward example of the trope, but the page quote summarizes the plot brilliantly; Doctor Nekhorvich spliced together every influenza strain known to man into a superflu he codenamed "Chimera" - in order to develop a perfect influenza cure. That worked out perfectly, and would have been worth billions. Unfortunately, he didn't realize he was working for an evil drug company, resulting in the plot; the EDC realized that his superflu would be worth hundreds of billions to the right buyer, and that a superflu outbreak would make a universal cure worth trillions. In turn, Ambrose goes rogue to steal them. In turn, Ethan is sent after both Ambrose and the EDC. All of it happens because of Chimera.
  • Hidden Depths: Nyah proves to have some - what with injecting herself with Chimera and then almost committing suicide in order to save Ethan and everybody else...
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Ethan disguises himself as Stamp, tricking Ambrose into shooting the real Stamp, who's disguised as Ethan. The real Ethan takes the virus and leaves. The movie started with Ambrose imitating Ethan in the same fashion.
    • McCloy gloats to who he thinks is Doctor Nekhorvich that he ordered the creation of Chimera strictly for the money and gives his full name. We then discover during the attempted Chimera heist at the mid-point that the chamber in Biocyte where Chimera is held has a voice lock and the code is an authorized user saying his full name. Nice job giving Ethan the keys, jerk!
  • Hollywood Glass Cutter: Ethan Hunt laser-cuts a hole through glass and jumps through into the lab.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bomb: Luther sees the bomb's red flashing light reflected in a puddle beneath his van, referencing an identical scene in In the Line of Duty 4: Witness.
  • Killing for a Tissue Sample: Inverted and invoked by Nyah, who injects herself with the last sample of the Synthetic Plague that the villains need for a Poison and Cure Gambit to stop them from killing her - at least at that particular moment. All of the parties involved simply assume that it would be impossible to retrieve a sample of the virus from a freshly-dead corpse, as it would take a few hours for the virus to replicate in her system to the point where it could be harvested.
  • Kiss of Distraction: Nyah distracts Ambrose with a kiss while stealing the envelope containing the memory card from his pocket. She tries something similar when she returns the envelope (sidling up against him), but this time it doesn't work—(a) he realizes it instantly, and (b) even if not, she puts it in the wrong pocket, which would have tipped him off eventually.
  • Large Ham: Ambrose loves to have his head tremble and his eyes bug out whenever he's angry.
  • Latex Perfection: Ethan Hunt apparently carries perfect latex masks, not only of various bad guy henchmen but also of himself. These he was able to apply unaided to himself (or in the case of the mask of himself, a bad guy henchman), in about ten seconds flat. The film also shows how they mimicked the voices as well, with a thin strip of circuitry placed at the base of the neck (which somehow affected sounds made mostly in the mouth).
  • Literal Metaphor: When Ethan and Luther meet again, Luther ends up stepping in sheep droppings. This conversation takes place:
    Luther Stickell: Shit.
    Ethan Hunt: Yes it is.
  • Living MacGuffin: Nyah, once injected with Chimera.
  • Magic Countdown: The bomb is planted on Luther's van has one of these.
  • Majority-Share Dictator: Ambrose's big plan is to use the money he gets from selling Bellerophon back to McCloy to buy 51% of Biocyte, which will have its stock price going through the roof once Chimera starts killing people on the streets and the fact that Bellerophon is the only available cure becomes public.
  • Motorcycle Jousting: With the inclusion of jumping off the bikes at the same time and tackle each other in mid-air.
  • Never Bring A Knife To A Fistfight: The last fight - after wrestling the knife away from the baddie, Ethan averts this trope by dropping it and going after him with his bare hands.
  • Obvious Stunt Double: Averted in the climbing scene at the beginning. Even in the interviews in the DVD extras, Tom Cruise's climbing double looks exactly like him.
  • Oddball in the Series:
    • As demented as the action sequences have become as the series has gone by, this is the only film in which Ethan shoots two guns while jumping through the air or do a backflip kick. The action makes quite clear who the director is.
    • It's also the only film in which he and his team are not forced to take it on the lam at some point.
    • The movie is also very much of the year 2000, with its copious slow-motion action scenes, heavy-metal rendition of the M:I theme instead of the traditional composition or variation of in the title sequence, and a heavily promoted rock soundtrack featuring the likes of Limp Bizkit and Metallica.
    • Ethan acts more like a James Bond Expy than his characterization in the other films, being able to quickly seduce a woman he just met into the sack and has no problem going for guns time and time again.
  • Officially Shortened Title: "M:i-2".
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Some of this chanting is heard when Ambrose kills what he presumes to be Ethan Hunt, only to find that he ended up killing Stamp...
  • One-Woman Wail: Injection and Mano a Mano.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Ambrose claims "women are like monkeys. Won't let go of one branch until they get hold of the next." (the unfortunate implications of the "monkey" comment are heightened by the fact that Nyah is a black woman).
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Ambrose has two in a row: "Get! Down! On! Your! knees!" and "This -= is — what's known as getting your gun off."
  • Recruiting the Criminal: Subverted. Ethan thinks he's recruiting Nyah in order to steal something, until Swanbeck reveals they only wanted her because she previously had a relationship with Ambrose, and they want to exploit that to get a person inside for recon.
  • Rogue Agent: Sean Ambrose is a rogue IMF agent.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Swanbeck mentions that Spaniards honor the Saints during the Holy Week of Seville by burning their effigies. He's probably confused with the Fallas of Valencia, a different city where effigies of celebrities and politicians are burned — nothing to do with religion. He's shown to be a jerk, but he should know the name of the city he's visiting, and people were in fact burning some effigies in the streets of Seville for some reasons we Spaniards cannot even imagine.
  • Scaling the Summit: We meet Ethan Hunt climbing Dead Horse Point in Utah. Reference to climbing Kirk climbing El Capitan at the beginning of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
  • Schizo Continuity: To date, M:I-II is the only film in the series to never have its events referenced or connected with the other films in any way. As well, while Ethan and Luther return from the first film (and Eugene Kittridge returns to the series much later in Dead Reckoning Part One), none of the characters introduced in this film ever appear again in the later films. By contrast, every installment from the third and onward introduces at least one new recurring character to the series. Rogue Nation and Fallout do feature a few Call-Backs to this film, however.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Ethan and Nyah first seeing each other in freeze-frame is identical to a scene in Woo's The Killer where Ah Jong and Jenny meet for the first time.
  • Shoot the Fuel Tank: Ethan does this to a moving vehicle, from a moving motorcycle.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Smug Snake: Ambrose. He spends half of the film with a smug look of self-satisfaction on his face and the other in a ballistic rage when things don't go according to plan.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Ethan and Nyah are talking while she's on line. She kneels down to pick up something she dropped and by the time she stands up, Hugh is in his place.
  • Symbology Research Failure: The film mixes the processions of the Holy Week in Seville with the "Fallas" of Valencia (and throws in some people dressed for Pamplona's running of the bulls looking at them for good measure), even having a character uttering the line "how crazy Spaniards are, burning their saints to honor them?". The origin of the Fallas is only incidentally religious: they take place in the four days prior to March 19, Saint Joseph's day in the Catholic calendar, who is the patron saint of carpenters. In this day, carpenters would take out and burn the wooden splinters left by their work that could not be reused, and over time it evolved into the confection of elaborate structures over the year for the express purpose of being burned that day. These structures often make parodic references to events of the year and feature caricatures of politicians, actors and other famous people, but never effigies of saints or other figures of worship. And they are not held in Seville.
  • Title Drop: When Ethan says convincing Nyah to go along with the plan to plant her with Ambrose may be "difficult", Swanbeck retorts that their assignment is not Mission: Difficult, it's Mission: Impossible, so "difficult" should be "a walk in the park".
  • Took a Level in Badass: Ethan never fires a sidearm in the first movie, and here, he's dual-wielding pistols while flipping in the air, doing some acrobatic martial arts, and busts out Car Fu on a motorcycle wearing Cool Shades.
  • Toros y Flamenco: There is a sequence taking place in this kind of Spain where they managed to mix Pamplona's Running of the Bulls with Seville's Easter processions, Valencia's Fallas, and about any other Spanish cliché. Also, Swanbeck tells Ethan that "the people are burning the saints to worship them", which is completely false; the already mentioned Fallas DO burn figures, but not of saints, and in Easter processions figures of saints are taken out, but NOT burned (some of those figures are centuries old, and their continued healthy state is Serious Business for the confraternities that take care of them).
  • Tracking Chip:
    • The good guys put a chip in Ethan's head which transmits his location to a satellite. They tell him "this chip is completely untraceable." Which kind of defeats the purpose, when you think about it.
    • It's untraceable except by a single satellite that can only be accessed by a specific laptop. It's the same kind of chip they put inside Nyah's ankle tattoo, and it didn't present any problems besides when they needed to find Nyah near the end due to the laptop getting damaged and needing to be brought back up online again.
  • Trigger-Happy: Sean Ambrose is well-known to be one, or as Ethan calls it "getting your gun off". It definitely comes to bite Ambrose in the ass at the climax because he is so driven to play around with (who he believes is) a captured Ethan before blowing him away with a proper Ironic Echo Pre-Mortem One-Liner ("This is what is called 'getting your gun off'") and doing a Blofeld Ploy with McCloy that he didn't noticed that it was Stamp wearing an Ethan mask until it was too late.
  • Typhoid Mary: The villain's plans for Nyah; he even mentions Mary by name. Nyah, until the team arrives, plans to kill herself to save everyone.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Played With, as the detailed break-in would have succeeded had Ethan not let Ambrose get the virus to save Nyah.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Nyah attempts to hide the expensive necklace there. Ethan then forces her to give it back, right in front of the head of security.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Sean Ambrose. The man is known In-Universe to be pretty Trigger-Happy and just looks pissed most of the time.
  • Villainous Crush: Ambrose appears to have genuine feelings for Nyah, enough to be legitimately hurt and angry upon finding out that she was playing him.
  • Visual Pun: The camera quickly cuts to another scene right after Ambrose uses the cigar cutter on Hugh.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The premise of the film—spy falls in love with girl, but the mission requires the girl to fake getting back together with her boyfriend, a Bad Guy who is trying to get a dangerous weapon—is lifted from the classic Alfred Hitchcock film Notorious. They even both have a scene where the spy meets the girl at a racetrack.
  • Withholding the Cure: Doctor Nekhorvich spliced countless influenza viruses together into a super-influenza as part of the process of creating a universal cure for influenza. That worked out perfectly, and would have been worth billions. Unfortunately, he didn't realize until it was too late that he was working for an Evil Drug Company - that realized that his superflu would be worth hundreds of billions to the right buyer... and when he discovered this and went to the IMF for help, Ambrose realized that a superflu outbreak would make a universal cure worth trillions. Cue gunfights.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Did Ethan nail Ambrose with an enzuigiri? Yes, he did.

"Let's get lost."

Video Example(s):


Mission Impossible II

There is no CGI used in this, only a rope. Also Tom Cruise did not have a stunt double in this scene.

How well does it match the trope?

4.56 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / EyeScream

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