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Introduction
This is the sequel to the 1996 hit, Mission: Impossible. The original film was based on the TV series of the same name and featured Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, an operative in the fictitious spy unit IMF (Impossible Mission Force). The original film, directed by Brian de Palma, was an edgy spy thriller. The sequel, directed by John Woo, is a no-brainer action film.

Mission Impossible II
Movie
M:I-2 tells the story of a deadly virus, named Chimera, which breaks down red blood cells resulting in death within 20 hours. The virus' creator was killed en route to deliver both Chimera and its antidote (Bellerophon) to IMF by ex-IMF agent gone bad, Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott). Ambrose managed to steal Bellerophon, and he now needs Chimera in order to sell them to the highest bidder. Ethan Hunt's mission is to find all existing samples of the virus and deliver them to IMF, before Ambrose can find and sell them. Hunt must also recover the antidote. In order to infiltrate Ambrose's terrorist organisation, Hunt enlists the help of Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton), beautiful international thief and Ambrose's ex-girlfriend. A love triangle develops, when it is revealed that both Hunt and Ambrose are in love with Nyah.  Nyah becomes infected with Chimera, leaving Hunt little time to recover Bellerophon before she dies in a suitably horrible fashion.

If you are a big fan of the original Mission: Impossible film, there is a good chance you won't enjoy this anywhere near as much - it isn't nearly as plot-driven and seems to rely on big action sequences and amazing stunts. However, if you take this film for what it is - a John Woo action spectacular (complete with his trademark white doves, hero jumping sideways firing two guns, and lots of slo-mo) - and ignore the fact that the story is weak and there are more holes in the plot than in your average teabag, M:I-2 is a very enjoyable, switch-your-brain-off film. Something that is guaranteed to annoy by the end of the film, however, is the overuse of the amazing rubber masks and voice transformers - its clever the first time you see it, but by the fourth, it gets on your nerves, frankly - you can guess when it's happening, which ruins a couple of the twists; and it also gives the film faintly ridiculous overtones of Scooby Doo ("I would've gotten away with it if it hadn't of been for those pesky kids!").

Also, the film is full of continuity errors. Normally, I actually enjoy spotting continuity errors, but only when they're fairly difficult to spot, not when glaringly obvious. An example of an error that is difficult to spot? In the first film, Ving Rhames character is called Luther Stickell, both throughout the film and in the credits. He is also called Luther Stickell throughout M:I-2, but in the credits he's named as Luther Strickell. A glaringly obvious continuity error in M:I-2? There are so many, its difficult to know where to begin - but the way the motorbike tyres change from off-road knobblies to on-road slicks during the chase at the end and the way headlights and fairings on the bikes get smashed and miraculously fix themselves between shots are just two that stick in the memory.

Video
The film is presented in its Original Aspect Ratio of 2.35:1 and is enhanced for widescreen TVs. The transfer is very good.

Being a new film, the quality is brilliant; the opening scene of the scientist in his lab, surrounded by fluorescent greens and blues is wonderfully sharp. The detail level is high, with a very crisp overall picture. There are no noticeable scratches or grain on the print and blacks stay nicely black.

Something I didn't like about the picture is that it is so clear; that in places, especially during some stunts, the green screen that they undoubtedly used is apparent between foreground and background. This is only a minor niggle however, as it doesn't happen very often.

Mission Impossible II
Audio
The soundtrack is in Dolby Digital 5.1 and offers an excellent mix. Bass is impressive, especially when there are explosions. The music is superb - a highlight is during the first scene featuring Nyah, with the Spanish dancers.

The directional sound is good, with bullets ricocheting all around during some of the action sequences, and with the trees whipping past during the car chases.

As well as the DD5.1 soundtrack, there is also an English soundtrack in Stereo - however there are no other languages offered, which although not affecting me, surprised me somewhat as I would have thought more languages would give the disc a more universal appeal - and not necessarily outside the UK!

Extras
Behind The Mission :
This is the Making Of M:I-2, lasting for just under 14 minutes. It consists of interviews with members of the cast and crew (including Tom Cruise, John Woo, and Ving Rhames), intercut with behind the scenes footage (mostly very short clips of the cast and crew walking across the sets!) and clips from the film. It is pretty much a standard "making of" featurette, featuring members of the cast praising other members of the cast!

Mission Incredible:
This is a 5-minute item that features the cast and crew talking about the stunts in the film. A lot of footage from the film cut with more interviews with the cast and crew.  Interesting, in a sort of "Tom Cruise did all his own stunts" kind of way.

Impossible Shots:
A more detailed explanation of the action and stunts, running for approximately 34 minutes and featuring 11 action sequence breakdowns. The sequences are Moab, Spanish Chase, Assault on Biocyte, Biocyte Escape, Fire Walk, Flame Ride, Motorcycle Chase, Asphalt Skiing, The Joust, Mano a Mano and Knife in the Eye.  Each breakdown consists of interviews with people involved in the stunts along with footage from the film, storyboards and behind the scenes footage. This feature is pretty interesting, although, once again, everybody praises everybody else a little too much.

Commentary:
This is the directors commentary, which is interesting, although a little difficult to understand at times due to John Woo's occasionally heavy accent. Not the best commentary I've ever heard, but that, I think, is mainly due to it being John Woo speaking on his own - so although you get to hear the directors thoughts on the film, you don't get any interaction between the director and the actors, as you do on other commentaries. As it is, he seems to get in front of the action on screen at times. There are also more breaks in the commentary than when you have several people talking together.

Metallica:
The "I Disappear" music video, in stereo and 4:3 ratio. The picture is reasonably sharp, although not to the same standard as the film. I noticed a few artefacts, no doubt caused by a higher level of compression.

Alternate Title Sequence :
35 seconds of alternative opening titles. Nice to look at, but pretty pointless!

Mission Improbable:
A six and a half minute feature that was produced for MTVs Movie Awards. This is the best extra on the disc by some margin. If you haven't seen this, I won't spoil it - suffice it to say, it is absolutely hilarious and worth borrowing a copy to watch, even if you aren't a big fan of the film.

DVD-Rom Features:
Agent Dossiers (Ethan Hunt, Luther Stickell and Sean Ambrose), Mission Locations (Moab, Sydney's Harbour House and Biocyte HQ), Legend of Chimera (Background information on both the Greek legend and the virus featured in the film), M:I-2 Tech Tools (The gadgets and tools from the film) and links to M:I-2 DVD Online.

Mission Impossible II
M:I-2 comes in a standard Amaray case, my personal favourite. The cover art is fine and includes all pertinent information on the back.

Upon putting the disc in the player, we go straight to the fully animated menu (or as the box puts it, "dynamic interactive motion menus"), starting with an "Urgent Transmission" animation from IMF which turns into the main menu complete with music and John Woo's trademark white doves flying in the background. For some reason, when the menu loops for the first time, the music goes much quieter, which I found slightly annoying. This may have been caused by my equipment however, as I haven't heard anyone else comment on it. Navigation is easy, with animation between menus, quick enough not to annoy. The extras are listed across two screens, and upon selecting one, you get a short description of what that extra is, along with how long it lasts, which is a nice touch. The film is split into 17 chapters, which, in a two hour movie, isn't enough - the film could have been split down quite a lot more, which would have made navigation a lot easier. The layer change comes at 67:19 between two scenes - on my player it was extremely quick, and barely noticeable.

Overall
M:I-2 is an excellent film if you take it for what it is - an all out action film that requires no brain power whatsoever. If you like an in-depth plot however, or are expecting a similar film to the first, you will be disappointed. The quality of the disc is high, with a good picture transfer and a nice surround sound mix, and the extras are perfectly satisfactory, although nothing out of the ordinary - apart from the excellent MTV parody which added a star on its own! All in all, a decent disc, although probably not worth owning unless you're a big fan of either the film or Tom Cruise.


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