Mission: Impossible II
DIRECTOR: JOHN WOO
Sometimes pointed to as a flamboyant misstep in the franchise to be course-corrected by J.J. Abrams’s “gritty” M:I III, Woo’s turn on the wheel now stands out from the pack for its vivacity, its red-blooded romanticism, and its giving the last evidence in the series of an authorial personality that outweighs Tom Cruise’s. (Also for its Limp Bizkit cover of the Lalo Schifrin theme.) Looking great with harlequin novel cover-worthy long locks, Cruise’s agent Ethan Hunt fools around and falls in love with cat burglar-turned-uneasy ally Thandie Newton—their car chase pas de deux on a mountain road in Spain is a Woo moment for the ages—while also finding time to free-climb sheer cliff faces, orchestrate insanely baroque heists, and land a sternum-crushing dropkick on Dougray Scott.