Mission Impossible 2 (2000) - Synopsis

Mission Impossible 2 (2000)

A tremendous fan of the Mission: Impossible TV series which ran on CBS Television in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Tom Cruise came up with the idea of translating the show onto the big screen.

"In 1996, his dream came to life with the release of Mission Impossible (1996) a worldwide box-office success. Tom loved the cleverness of this group of people who would solve problems by abandoning the traditional methodology," says Paula Wagner, Cruise's producing partner. The series was very intelligent and it had all the elements loved by audiences: romance, drama, with adventure and action built in. "This movie is different from the first Mission Impossible (1996) Wagner says. "This is a more personal story. We get to see a romantic side to Ethan Hunt within the framework of an exciting action drama."

When it came to choosing a director, Cruise and Wagner had no doubt who they wanted to helm the project. "We are both huge fans of John Woo," says Wagner. "John has incredible passion for his work. He happens to be the greatest action director in the world, but he is also enormously concerned with the human struggle, vulnerabilities, conflicts and romance. He is also very much a humorist. John and Tom are a dynamite combination."

Cruise says: "John Woo is unbelievable. He's taken the concept of 'Mission: Impossible' and turned it into mythology. His action has a combination of reality and surrealism that makes the emotion in his pictures very real."

"I always like to do something new," Woo says, "something I've never touched before, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do that. One of the most important aspects of the story for me was the human element. I wanted to make it full of drama, emotional and charming. I loved the idea of the two men being in love with the same woman. It gave the story much more emotional depth."

Bringing the story into the new millennium was another exciting challenge for John Woo.

"In order to make the concept contemporary, we had to bring the technology into the 21st century," he explains. "We used a lot of computer specialists to help us find a high-tech design that would give the film an exciting new look. We also wanted to create a new image for Tom. The new look was totally Tom's idea, with the longer hair and the clothes. In this movie he looks very elegant, charming and sexy."

Woo's films are known for their stylistic action sequences, and "M:I-2 is no exception.

"I like to shoot the action in a very emotional way," says Woo, "using slow motion and creating a lot of romance in the sequence. I see action almost as a ballet and sometimes as a cartoon."

"M:I-2" is very much an international project, and the filmmakers wanted to show that in the cast. "We have a cross-section of actors from around the world. The production truly embraces different cultures and nationalities," Paula Wagner says. Dougray Scott (Deep Impact (1998)), one of Scotland's most beloved actors, plays Sean Ambrose, Hunt's former fellow agent and now adversary in love and in war.

"We liked the idea of using actors who were breaking through," says Wagner. "Dougray is a wonderful actor with a terrific range. You can look at him and see eyes of steel and yet with the next glance see a romantic man who is very much in love. That duality was something that the character really needed."

English actress Thandie Newton (Beloved (1998), gridlock'd (1997)) plays Nyah Hall, an international thief who has won the hearts of two rivals, Hunt and Ambrose.

"The role of Nyah was an extremely difficult one to cast," says Wagner. "She had to have a certain vulnerability but at the same time this real independence. We were looking for someone who defined the women of the new millennium. She's feminine, sexy, smart as a tack and can be very physical if she needs to be. Thandie is an extraordinarily gifted actress with an incredible range that enabled her to show all those elements."

Ving Rhames is the only character other than Cruise to return from the first Mission Impossible (1996) feature.

"The interesting thing about Ving is the dichotomy between who you think he is going to be and who he really is," says Wagner. "His character is the computer genius, the guy with the heart of gold. But h he also has a very dominant and imposing physical presence. The audience loves him."