- Author's Saving Throw: The first film was criticised by some for being too complicated and not having enough action. The sequel sought to fix these issues by making the plot more straightforward and upping the action ante. In the longer run this backfired, however, with the focus on action at the expense of character and storyline being fingered as the film's biggest weakness, and the much more complex and layered plot of the first film being considered Vindicated by History.
- Awesome Music:
- Broken Base: Whether it's a good film, a bad film, or a good action film but a bad Mission Impossible film.
- Contested Sequel: When the film first came out it was fairly popular for, above all else, being a fun and intense action movie with all the John Woo trademarks and had a bigger box office take than the first film. It did receive criticism for departing even further from the Mission: Impossible formula, especially ignoring the team dynamics. About the time MI: III came out, reasserting teamwork and espionage, this film came to be seen as the weakest entry in the series.
- Critical Research Failure: The film's portrayal of the Spanish Holy Week in Seville is downright atrocious. 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.
- Faux Symbolism: Ethan is so awesome that he rock climbs in Monument Valley without rope, slips and ends hanging from the rock in a Crucified Hero Shot. Lots of white doves fly in slow motion through the movie... and that's it. What does it all mean? Is Ethan such a good spy because he is of divine origin or something? Then why was nothing of that in the first movie?
- Moral Event Horizon: Supervirus be damned, Ambrose has his about five minutes into the movie when he crashes a plane full of innocent people into a cliff.
- Some portions of the motorcycle stuntwork can be a bit hard to take seriously.
- Ambrose shooting Stamp disguised as Ethan would be a pretty shocking moment... if not for the completely overblown chorus wailing over the scene. His reaction after he realizes his mistake (looks like a Big "NO!") is also unintentionally hilarious.
- The bit where Ethan tosses the antidote to Luther, kicks the gun up into his hand, spins around and drops to the ground and shoots Ambrose starts out awesome, but gets so over-the-top that it turns ridiculous.
- Ambrose grabbing Nyah's scarf as it's about to fly away, which is given the full John Woo slow motion treatment for literally no reason at all.
- Never Live It Down: The aforementioned Critical Research Failure made the film unintentionally hilarious in Spain, to the point it marred the perception of the entire franchise there. Even worse, Cruise would suffer almost exactly the same research failure in his next film Knight and Day, which showed an outlandish San Fermín taking place in Seville.
- Sophomore Slump: It is considered to be the weakest in the franchise, especially that the following four sequels are more well-received than this one.
- Signature Scene: Ethan throwing of his Cool Shades just before it explodes.
- Strangled by the Red String: Ethan and Nyah basically had a one-night-stand, yet the movie decides to lead us to believe that they were made for each other. The film's detractors were quite pleased that the series proceeded to drop her with no explanation, even starting off the very next film with him engaged to someone else.
- They Copied It, So It Sucks!: Often considered to be the worst in the Mission: Impossible franchise due to being too similar to a James Bond film. In particular, the villain Sean Ambrose has more than a few similarities to GoldenEye Big Bad Alec Trevelyan, both being essentially a Rogue Agent Evil Counterpart to the main hero (though Trevelyan is a former friend of Bonds while Ambrose and Hunt always disliked each other); their respective actors even look somewhat alike.
- Unintentional Period Piece:
- The rock version of the Leitmotif was done by Limp Bizkit (the song itself plays during the end credits), a band that became Condemned by History practically the day after the film's premiere.
- Most of the technology used in this movie was cutting edge... for the year 2000. From the Oakley sunglasses to the Kodak digital camera (with a massive 1.6 megapixel resolution!), most of the Product Placement really dated the movie.
- What an Idiot!: After Ethan puts Hugh's mask on himself, Sean fails to notice that "Hugh" is four inches shorter than normal and with a completely different body type.
YMMV / Mission: Impossible II