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The "Mission: Impossible" Films

Mission: Impossible II (2000)

Mission: Impossible Films
Mission: Impossible (1996) | Mission: Impossible II (2000) | Mission: Impossible III (2006)
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)
| Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015) | Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)

The "Mission: Impossible" Films - Part 2
Mission: Impossible II (2000)
d. John Woo, 123 minutes

Film Plot Summary

The film opened in downtown Sydney, Australia, in the Biocyte Pharmaceuticals building, where in the laboratory, Russian molecular biologist Dr. Vladimir Nekhorovich (Rade Serbedzija) had DNA-engineered sample cultures. In a voice-over confession, he described the existence of a "hero" -- a curative green-colored drug known as 'Bellerophon,' and the creation of its opposite, a monstrous villain -- a red-colored super-virus known as 'Chimera.' [Note: In Greek myth, 'Chimera' was a monster with the head of a lion and the tail of a serpent, while 'Bellerophon' was a princely-warrior that slayed the monster.] He injected his wrist with the last remaining bit of Chimera culture ["using his own bloodstream as a petri dish"], and then made plans to travel from Sydney to Atlanta to deliver them safely [to the Center for Disease Control (CDC)], timing his trip so that it would take no longer than 20 hours (the time beyond which he couldn't be saved by the cure). As he left his work, he heard children singing and playing "Ring around the rosie..." at the front entrance, while carrying the culture in vials within his brown leather briefcase. [It was revealed that the IMF believed that he was delivering the viral culture to the US government, to expose criminal use of the 'Chimera' sample.] On his flight, he was accompanied by friend Dmitri/'Ethan Hunt,' when over the Rocky Mountains, the flight captain Hugh Stamp (Richard Roxburgh) announced that a drop in cabin pressure necessitated the release of oxygen masks as a precaution. When the co-pilot passed out, the captain set the altimeter for the plane to descend to 10,000 feet (on a collision course with the terrain), put the plane on autopilot, and then left the cockpit. Passengers on the plane also passed out from poisonous gas in the oxygen supply. 'Ethan Hunt' broke Nekhorovich's neck and killed him, snatched his briefcase, and then removed his latex facial mask, revealing himself to be unknown rogue agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) -- in disguise (with a voice-changing device taped to his neck). He then joined his fellow agents and the captain, who parachuted out of a trap door in the belly of the plane moments before it crashed into a snowy Rocky Mountain peak.

The next scene, under the credits, was set at red sandstone cliff formations in a semi-desert area, where the real, death-defying IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) was daringly and precariously rock-climbing (while on 'holiday'), without any ropes or other precautions. When he reached the top, a helicopter flew by and fired a small missile into the ground near him - it contained a pair of sunglasses. A retinal scan was performed when he put the glasses on, and he listened to a message from his superior, IMF Mission Commander Swanbeck (Anthony Hopkins): "Your mission, should you choose to accept it, involves the recovery of a stolen item designated 'Chimera.' You may select any two team members, but it is essential that the third team member be Nyah Nordoff-Hall. She is a civilian and a highly capable professional thief. You have 48 hours to recruit Miss Nordoff-Hall and meet me in Seville to receive your assignment. As always, should you or any member of your IM Force be caught or killed, the secretary will disavow all knowledge of your actions." The audio-visual sunglasses self-destructed as he tossed them aside.

Ethan Hunt traveled to Seville, Spain to begin his mission by locating cat burglar Nyah, and assembling two others for his team. During a performance of flamenco dancing in the courtyard of a mansion, he spotted fugitive thief Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton) (the film suddenly went into slo-motion) across the room, and then confronted her during a jewel heist on the second floor of the mansion. She entered the room using a detecting instrument to determine where the object was hidden near a bathtub, and they engaged in flirtatious conversation in the tub itself. After locating the valuable, half-million pound Bvlgari diamond necklace (the ex-wife's property due to be auctioned), she slipped it between her breasts. When an alarm sounded, security guards surrounded them, as Ethan revealed himself masquerading as the mansion's security engineer 'Mr. Keys', who was conducting a security exercise with his associate 'Miss Hall.' They returned the necklace to the mansion's host. Afterwards, Ethan explained he was testing her capabilities and was considering "working together" with her. He then admitted he had triggered the alarm himself. As she left, she snootily rejected his offer: "I don't do laundry, cook, or put up with cheeky bastards who set me up on their territories so they can poach on mine."

The next day on a mountain highway, where Ethan determinedly followed Nyah's sportscar, he revealed himself to be a spy, and told her how they could mutually help one another: "I'm talking about Scotland Yard, Interpol, every Dutch authority. I can make them all go away." After a reckless car-chase almost ending in disaster, he saved her from dropping off a steep cliff while hanging from her car, and she agreed to talk to him about his proposal, without a "decent interval" before love-making. In the next scene, they were in bed together in a Seville hotel room, where she understood her objective was to be a "thief to catch a thief."

In a secret meeting location of the IMF in Seville, Ethan spoke with Commander Swanbeck, who played a DVD computer video-file of Dr. Vladimir Nekhorvich asking his good friend, code-named Dimitri/'Ethan Hunt', to accompany him on a flight to Atlanta from Sydney (lasting no longer than 20 hours), that ultimately crashed in the Rockies and killed him. His assistant/colleague Sergei Gradski had died earlier [from the effects of 'Chimera']. Hunt asked: "If he didn't want to go anywhere without me, how did you get him on that flight?" Swanbeck explained how IMF agent Sean Ambrose was sent in his place to escort Nekhorvich (when Ethan couldn't be found due to his 'vacation'), since he had "doubled" for him two or three times before. The plane flight was sabotaged - the captain (Harold Macintosh) had been killed and replaced in "an operation designed to bring the plane down and make it look like an accident." Swanbeck wanted to know: "What was this 'Chimera' that Nekhorovich was carrying?" Hunt's mission was to "recover this 'Chimera' and bring it to us." Hunt replied that he had to find out how Ambrose planned to make money with it. Swanbeck suggested that Nyah ('Miss Hall') would be useful, because she was in a serious relationship with Ambrose (and he desperately wanted her back), and was now "the surest and quickest way of locating him." She would gain his trust and relay whatever information she learned from Ambrose to Hunt, while going to bed with him and lying to him: "We're asking her to resume a prior relationship...She's a woman, she's got all the training that she needs." Having fallen in love with her, Hunt was skeptical, believing it would be difficult to convince Nyah to complete the mission, although Swanbeck was more confident: "This is not Mission Difficult, Mr. Hunt, it's Mission Impossible. Difficult should be a walk in the park for you." Before Hunt left, he was given a digital camera with photos (of the crashed airliner).

At their hotel room, Ethan was conflicted about giving her the assignment. Nyah told Ethan about her own misgivings, especially since Ambrose was a ruthless killer: "Are you gonna try and force me to do this?...You know, Sean will never be anything but suspicious if I pitch up saying, 'Hey honey, I'm home.'" She suggested another alternative, for her to need him "in some urgent way" -- she proposed being " serious trouble." Criminal mug shots were taken of Nyah, and an untraceable transponder chip was injected into her ankle, to allow Ethan to trace her whereabouts from his computer. News bulletins about her 'arrest' (she was falsely accused in Seville of burglary and attempted theft and held in detention) were sent to law enforcement agencies worldwide, to be noticed by Ambrose - who as Ethan predicted, would rescue her: "He has the means to get you out."

The next scene was set in Sydney, Australia, where recently-freed Nyah was seated at the back of a speedboat in the harbor. Out in the bush, local Australian Billy Baird (John Polson) and computer genius Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) (from the first film) exited from a helicopter that had just landed at a large sheep farm, where they met Ethan at a shack - they were his other two operatives. The boat arrived at the pier of Ambrose's luxurious island home on the water, while his assistant Hugh Stamp watched from the balcony, immediately suspicious and vigilant, as the two ex-lovers met again and kissed. The three IMF agents monitored their rendezvous via satellite, as Ethan noted: "We don't know what we've got! 'Cause we don't know what he's got, where he's got it and what he's doing in Sydney with it." In the security room of Ambrose's compound, no bugs or transmissions were detected on Nyah: "She's clean." Hunt was nervous: "We just rolled up a snowball and tossed it into hell. Now we'll see what chance it has." In his bedroom, Ambrose wanted to immediately make love to the naked and seductive Nyah, without waiting to have her model a gift of sexy lingerie.

In the sheep farm shack, Ethan's two associates watched the Nekhorvich video, as he informed them about the Greek myth associated with the scientist's work: "Nekhorvich specialized in recombining DNA molecules. In the myth, Bellerophon was a prince who killed the Chimera. A monster with the head of a lion and the tail of a serpent, who plagued the ancient world. I think Nekhorovich created a monster virus named Chimera and the anti-virus to kill it, named Bellerophon."

In his study, Ambrose used a magnifying glass to look at a digital photo of a £37 million pound bid for Nekhorvich's work - it was disguised in part an image of The London Times with money piled high on it - he noted: "a promising bid...We're halfway there." He mentioned that he needed to take the digital camera memory card to the horse track, in order to get the other half of the money. Stamp looked worried and questioned Ambrose about the sudden arrival of Nyah, even though Ambrose considered it "borderline suspicious, but hardly conclusive." After mentioning: "Suppose she is some Trojan horse sent in by IMF to spy on us. Why should I deny myself the pleasure of a ride or two? Or don't you think I can learn more from her than she can from me?", he asserted that he was willing to take the risk - and enjoy sex with her - and then cut off part of Stamp's little finger with his cigar-cutting device for questioning him.

While enjoying a horse race event with Ambrose, Nyah was provided with an earpiece by Billy Baird (masquerading as a doorman with a tip book). She secretly communicated with Hunt about her findings, mentioning the pictures of newspapers with money, interpreted as "bids from possible Chimera buyers." Baird also watched as Ambrose, in the racetrack bar area, spoke to John C. McCloy (Brendan Gleeson), identified as the ruthless CEO of Biocyte Pharmaceuticals - McCloy had acquired Biocyte in a "hostile takeover" in 1989, and had become Nekhorvich's boss. During the meeting, Ambrose showed McCloy a video on his digital camera, after which he took the camera's memory card and put it in an envelope in his inner left jacket pocket. Nyah was instructed to acquire the memory card in the envelope when he returned, and deliver it to Ethan at betting table # 12 off the paddock. She pickpocketed the envelope, and then took money from another of his pockets (which he supplemented up to £1,000 - "to win"), claiming that she wanted to bet on a horse named Naturally Vain. She met Ethan in the betting area, where he inserted the memory card into a video camera to view (and record) the footage (transmitted to Stickell in a parked van). The Biocyte video graphically illustrated the gruesome effects of 'Chimera' on Sergei Gradski's (Nekhorvich's assistant) body after infecting his bloodstream 20 hours after exposure. The virus caused rapid cell destruction and a slow and painful death (at 34 hours).

After viewing the video, Ethan expressed his concern about Nyah's safety, and told her he wanted her to vacate Ambrose's place -- "You've done your job. I want you out of Australia...If you don't get out of there, I'm coming in and getting you out." During the next horse race, Nyah surreptitiously re-placed the envelope into Ambrose's right jacket pocket - but he noticed that she had put it in the wrong pocket, although he said nothing, when she won her race bet. Later that evening, after viewing a philanthropic video commercial for Biocyte, Ambrose told Stamp: "We've got an opportunity here. I'm not going to miss it." At the same time, CEO McCloy - leaving Biocyte for the evening - was kidnapped by the IMF team. Billy posed as his limousine driver and drove him off. McCloy reached for his newspaper (planted) and saw the shocking headlines of his own demise: "Leading Pharmaceutical CEO dies of rare strain of influenza." A gas was emitted from the air-conditioning system and rendered him unconscious.

Soon after, McCloy woke up in a hospital bed surrounded by a plastic sheet enclosure - he had been set up by the IMF to believe he was in a real hospital room, in order to extract information from him. He saw the "ghost" of Dr. Nekhorvich [Ethan Hunt in disguise] approach his bed and inform him: "You are infected with Chimera." The CEO learned he had less than a day to live, similar to Gradski who had been deliberately infected. He side-stepped blame, arguing that he wanted to see the effects of the Chimera viral disease in the real-world. He also confessed how the "cure would be priceless. I needed Chimera in order to peddle Bellerophon" to make exorbitant drug profits by selling the bio-weapon's cure after infecting the world: "I, John C. McCloy, am in business to make money." Then, the ailing CEO begged for the antidote Bellerophon for himself: "Now, forget any deal you may have made with that thug, Ambrose. Get me treated, and let's go back to work," but 'Nekhorvich' refused.

After the charade, Ethan removed the latex mask and told his IMF associates: "I've heard all I need to hear." He had learned that McCloy had purchased the services of Ambrose and his team to assault the Atlanta-bound plane to steal the virus cure back from Nekhorvich. [Originally, the IMF mistakenly assumed that Ambrose was stealing 'Chimera' rather than the antidote Bellerophon. In fact, Ambrose didn't have the virus, only the cure.] Afterwards, the ambitiously-greedy Ambrose had demanded that McCloy pay him £37 million pounds for the virus antidote sample, and the CEO had agreed. Ethan's plan was simple: "So we go into Biocyte, kill Chimera. Ambrose has a cure without a disease, and we're home free."

Outside Ambrose's compound in the dark, Nyah met 'Ethan' and was relieved to see him, believing she was to be rescued. But 'Ethan' now told her to remain with Ambrose: "It's imperative that we do nothing to alarm Ambrose...It is critical, absolutely critical, that you do whatever Ambrose asks." He refused a kiss from her, but promised that it would soon be over. When she ran back to the house, 'Ethan' ripped off his latex facial mask (and voice-changing device taped to his throat) to reveal that he was Ambrose! He was now aware of Nyah's trusting allegiance to Ethan. And Ambrose also knew about McCloy's sting in the fake hospital bed, and predicted that Hunt would soon be targeting and entering Biocyte to destroy the last remaining Chimera. The IMF made plans to assault the Biocyte facility through the atrium (with only a 40 second window of time to enter), while Ambrose anticipated their arrival and exact strategy: "Hunt's target will be the Chimera, stored and manufactured at Biocyte on the 42nd floor. If you look at Hunt's operational history, and I have, he invariably favors misdirection over confrontation. He'll never break into Biocyte from the bottom where security is heaviest...Hunt will prefer to enter Biocyte somewhere from the top where security is minimal. He'll undoubtedly engage in some aerobatic insanity before he'll risk harming a hair on a security guard's head."

At about 11pm, Ethan was helicoptered by Billy to the rooftop of the Biocyte building and lowered on a cable, while Stickell monitored his progress via transponder on computers in a van parked on the street. There was a momentary glitch when the louvered windows on the rooftop's atrium wouldn't open, and then Ethan had only about 20 seconds to retract the cable back into the helicopter to avoid detection. Ambrose predicted that Hunt would breach the lab at 2300 hours, one minute, when the air filtration generators would noisily kick on and cover the sound of his break-in. Successfully inside the facility, Hunt placed a metallic protractor on the glass of the lab, retracted its arm, and activated it to begin laser-cutting the glass in a circle. He then jumped down through the freshly-cut hole into the lab. There was another cross-cutting shot to Ambrose, who foretold Hunt's progress: "Hunt will destroy Chimera rather than attempt to preserve any part of it. He'll have to do it in two places. First, the incubation room where the growth vials are kept. And finally, in the inoculation chamber holding the last remaining Chimera virus in three injection guns." Ambrose was planning to counteract Ethan's plan: "He won't be allowed to destroy the virus in those guns." Ambrose, Stamp, and his men (code-named "Nyah") entered the Biocyte lobby and proceeded upstairs to intercept Ethan, who had only another 5 1/2 minutes to destroy the samples, but was out of voice-contact with Stickell and couldn't be warned of their approach. In the incubation room, Ethan laser-heated the samples in the growth vials and terminated them, and then set a C4 explosive in the room with a remote detonator attached. Next, in the inoculation room, after destroying two of the three viruses with injection guns, Ethan paused (recalling how Dr. Nekhorvich had injected himself with Chimera) - when Ambrose and his team opened fire on him in an ambush. During the fierce gunbattle, the last remaining injection gun with the sample dropped to the floor - it was the object of everyone's interest. Outside, someone planted a timer bomb under Luther's van - he saw the reflection of the counter in the rear-view mirror, grabbed his laptop, and escaped from the van moments before it exploded.

During a pause in the gunfight, Ambrose insultingly told Hunt about his mask-deception: "That was the hardest part of having to portray you grinning like an idiot every 15 minutes." Hunt countered: "I would've thought the hardest part was curbing that pressing need of yours to get your gun off." Hunt then reminded Ambrose of his stupidity when he killed Nekhorvich (injected with the Chimera virus) on the 747 - "destroying the very thing you came for." In a tense standoff, Ambrose ordered "bad girl" Nyah to retrieve the dropped injection gun and bring it to him. She slowly picked up the gun, told Ethan: "Things haven't exactly worked out the way you thought they would, Ethan" - and then injected the last bit of Chimera into her arm. Hunt started a 20-hour countdown on his wristwatch. Nyah sneered at Ambrose: "You're not gonna shoot me, Sean. Not this bitch, 'cause she's worth thirty-seven million pounds." Hunt grabbed Nyah to protect her, and detonated the bomb in the incubation room. Security systems and alarms went off as Biocyte security guards entered Level 42 and exchanged gunfire with Ambrose and his men. Hunt wouldn't shoot Nyah when she demanded it - instead, he vowed to save her, although he couldn't escape the building with her: "We've got 19 hours and 58 minutes. I'll get Belleraphon into your system before then. Just stay alive! I'm not going to lose you." He parachuted out of the building, as Nyah was seized by Ambrose.

The next day, Ambrose teased Nyah with a sample of the cure Bellerophon that he held in a metallic canister. She slapped him in the face. He explained how her viral disease would spread and then make him a lot of money, when the demand for the cure during a pandemic would accelerate: "In just a few hours time, you can be assured of going down in history as the Typhoid Mary of Oz." Ethan told his men that Nyah would take care of herself - killing herself if necessary - before she became sick. Simultaneously, both Ambrose's team (without Nyah) and Ethan proceeded to the heavily-secured Biocyte Island base coastal facility outside of Sydney. Ethan slowly infiltrated and penetrated into the compound, killing various guards along the way. Meanwhile inside, Ambrose met with John McCloy, presenting him with two vials, a blood sample and a vial of Bellerophon. A scientist confirmed a positive DNA match in the blood sample: "The blood's loaded with Chimera," proving to McCloy that Ambrose had both the virus and the anti-virus. In exchange, Ambrose wanted $30 million in cash and 480,000 stock options (to be purchased with McCloy's money) in Biocyte, ratcheting up the demand by ordering his men to cut infected Nyah loose in downtown Sydney. Ambrose was expecting an outbreak of the disease (first among 3 million people in Sydney and 17 million in Australia), that would subsequently create "demand" for the cure - and increase the value of his newly-purchased stock options: "When your stock goes north of 200, which it will, those options will be worth billions and I will own 51% of Biocyte." Ambrose also noted: "I have terrorists and other pharmaceutical companies standing in line."

The meeting was interrupted when Ethan exploded the room's outer door - and was momentarily spotted through the flames. Ambrose ordered Stamp and others: "Run that bastard down." With time running out, McCloy reluctantly cooperated, transferring money from a Swiss bank and allowing Ambrose to take control of his company. Stamp engaged in a brief struggle against Ethan, when a grenade (with the pin pulled) exploded and destroyed part of the facility - Stamp was killed by falling debris. Pretending to be Stamp, however, Ethan called Ambrose on walkie-talkie: "Sean, this rat's reached the end of the maze" and promised to personally bring Ethan to him. 'Stamp' dragged a bound-up and injured 'Ethan' (with a broken jaw so he couldn't talk) into the meeting room, where Ambrose first shot him in the leg and then executed him, to the accompaniment of a choir singing The Requiem. Ambrose suddenly noticed a bandage on 'Hunt's' finger -- revealing to his horror that he had instead killed Stamp - verified when he ripped off 'Hunt's' mask and saw Stamp's gagged face. In the confusion, the real Ethan (after ripping off his 'Stamp' mask) stole the vial of Bellerophon and raced from the facility. Unable to reach the helicopter for pick-up, Hunt grabbed a motorcycle, culminating in a lengthy gun battle/chase along the coastal roads and on a bridge between Hunt's team on the helicopter (with grenade launchers) and pursuing cars.

During the fiery conflict, Stickell notified Hunt about Nyah's most recent location: "She's moved out of the city. She's on the north head bluff approaching the cliffs" - presumably to jump off and commit suicide so that the chimera viral disease wouldn't spread. With only a little time left, Hunt ordered his team to "track ahead and pick her up...bring her to me" while he remained to deal with the remainder of Ambrose's team. At the end of the pursuit-chase of playing chicken when their two bikes collided and burst into flames in mid-air, sole surviving Ambrose and Ethan grabbed each other and landed on a secluded rocky cliff-beach area, where they fought each other with martial-arts and other skills. Although Ambrose slashed Ethan with a knife and missed his eye by only a few millimeters with the knifepoint, Ethan was able to angrily knock his opponent unconscious (with a kick to the face, after which his head hit a rock) when Ambrose reminded him of how "bitch" Nyah would die. Meanwhile, Billy and Stickell had picked up Nyah and had flown her to Ethan. As he was walking toward the helicopter to give Stickell the antidote for her, Hunt was threatened by Ambrose with a gun from behind, who laughed: "You should've killed me." Ethan kicked up a gun buried in the sand at his feet, caught it, and fired, killing Ambrose, as Nyah was injected with Bellerophon in time to save her.

In the film's epilogue set in an art museum, IMF Commander Swanbeck reminded Ethan that he was specifically instructed to bring back "a living sample of the Chimera virus" -- the IMF agent explained how he had both recovered the virus and destroyed it: "By fire. It's the best way, really!" Swanbeck promised that 'Miss Hall's' (Nyah) efforts would be rewarded with an expungement of her criminal record, and then asked where she might be located. Ethan replied: "I don't know" - but his plans were to take another vacation. He met Nyah in a Sydney-area park near the Opera House, where they hugged and kissed and he proposed: "Let's get lost."

Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)

With a production budget of $125 million, and box-office gross receipts of $215.4 million (domestic) and $546.4 million (worldwide). This was the highest grossing film of the series, though not the most profitable (the first brought in $457 million worldwide with an $80 million budget).

With the tagline: "Expect the impossible again."

Directed by John Woo, with excessive expectations of replicating Woo's HK action films, such as The Killer (1989).

With no Academy Awards Oscar nominations.

The plot resembled Hitchcock's Notorious (1946), where agent Cary Grant watched as his love interest Ingrid Bergman (because of her love for the hero) married spy Claude Rains and put her life in danger.

With two Razzie Award nominations: Worst Remake or Sequel, Worst Supporting Actress (Thandie Newton).

Set-pieces: the tense, free-fall rock-climbing credits sequence, the two-car chase sequence along a mountain road, the assault of the high-security Biocyte building by descent on a cable, the lengthy gun battle/chase along the coastal roads and on a bridge between Hunt's team on the helicopter (with grenade launchers), two motorcycles and pursuing cars, and the final kick-boxing hand-to-hand combat fight on a beach between Hunt and Ambrose.

Ethan Hunt
(Tom Cruise)

Dr. Vladimir Nekhorvich
(Rade Serbedzija)

Nyah Nordoff-Hall
(Thandie Newton)

Mission Commander Swanbeck
(Anthony Hopkins)

Sean Ambrose
(Dougray Scott)

Hugh Stamp
(Richard Roxburgh)

Luther Stickell
(Ving Rhames)

Billy Baird
(John Polson)

John C. McCloy
(Brendan Gleeson)

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