I've watched this movie more times than I care to mention, and it's still a blast. The action scenes are intense, and the intimate scenes are intimate, and the intrigue is one step ahead of all other MI movies. I just realized it's directed by John Woo too! So, that explains it.
Not only does Woo manage to capture the motions of each scene, and to empower the action, but he has a flare for romance. The typical potential-virus-outbreak scenario may not be unique, but it feels like it's taken to a whole other level here. An emotional level.
There's not as much gadgetry and tech as there was in the first movie, but it's got enough for it to still feel relevant. The only thing that could possibly be improved is the mission itself, of which the planning stage is missing almost entirely. The fact that the one 'mission' is a failed mission doesn't make it better either.
I do miss the preparations and insights, but as an action movie, it can't get much better than this. Tom Cruise is the perfect protagonist, Dougray Scott the perfect antagonist, and Thandie Newton the perfect link. The characters are all a great fit, except for maybe that Australian helicopter pilot. Not sure what he contributes.
There are some uncomfortable scenes of close-up knife blades, finger-tips getting chopped off, and self-inflicted viruses - and there's a car chase out of the ordinary. They went wild with the filming, and it's wonderful! It flows. The continuity of plot and action is sublime.
It starts on a mountain. There's a lab. There's a plane. There's exotic sceneries, intrigue, a mass of masks and deception, and one grand showdown in multiple parts. There's symbolism too, with doves and waves and what-nots. It's not traditional Mission Impossible material, if that's what you're looking for, but out of the original trilogy this is definitely the one that had the biggest impact on me/the one I like and remember the most.
It's action with a passion! It's John Woo.
rated 4/5: fo shizzle