Lots of mindless fun. Lots of thought provoking symbolism. John Woo puts many messianic apocalyptic themes in this one.

-Review by David Bruce

This page was created on June 12, 2000
and was updated on May 22, 2005

Directed by John Woo
Writing credits: Ronald D. Moore (story) & Brannon Braga (story) Robert Towne (screenplay)

Tom Cruise .... Ethan Hunt
Dougray Scott .... Sean Ambrose
Thandie Newton .... Nyah Nordolf-Hall
Ving Rhames .... Luther Stickell
Richard Roxburgh .... Hugh Stamp
John Polson .... Billy Baird
Brendan Gleeson .... McCloy
Rade Serbedzija .... Dr. Nekhorvich
William Mapother .... Wallis
Dominic Purcell .... Ulrich
Matt Wilkinson .... Michael
Anthony Hopkins .... Mission Commander Swanbeck

Produced by Terence Chang (executive), Tom Cruise, Paul Hitchcock (executive), Paula Wagner
Original music by BT Lalo Schifrin (theme) Hans Zimmer
Cinematography by Jeffrey L. Kimball
Film Editing by Steven Kemper, Christian Wagner


Tom Cruise and John Woo, two of the most compelling figures in the world of film, have teamed up for "M:I-2," a romantic action thriller that plunges special agent Ethan Hunt into an international crisis of terrifying magnitude. With computer genius Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) at his side and a beautiful thief (Thandie Newton) on his mind, Hunt races across Australia and Spain on what seems like an impossible mission - to stop a villain before he can fulfill his own destructive mission.

David Bruce
Lots of mindless fun. Lots of thought provoking symbolism. And, leave it to John Woo to inject this film with a healthy dose of messianic apocalyptic themes.

-Review by David Bruce
THE CROSS IN THE CLEFT OF THE ROCK. A John Woo symbol is at work here. Ethan saves himself in a literal cliff hanging moment by throwing himself into a crucified position. This also identifies Ethan as the "new Adam" archetype; the new messianic world savior apocalyptic hero.
THE OMNIPRESENT FATHER. Where can Ethan go from Swanbeck's presence? He knows that Ethan is secretly vacationing on a remote mountain. The helicopter symbolizes his omnipresence. If any actor has earned the Father God image Anthony Hopkins has. "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?" -Psalm 139:7
GOD'S LIGHT AND THE DARKNESS OF EVIL. In the midst of God's vast creation of incredible beauty and primal purity, Ethan must darken his eyes in order to hear about the evil that is about to darken the world. The new Adam learns of the fall that will remove him from this paradise.
THE NEW ADAM AND EVE. Culture always identifies itself within its stories. The current paradise couple are coequal, multicultural, and share in messianic gifts. The early love scene is meant to solidify Ethan and Nyah within a loving emotionally monogamous relationship of fidelity, caring and trust.
THE NEW EVE IS A MESSIANIC SAVIOR OF THE WORLD. In the current myths about the struggle between the forces of good and evil women play a key role. Nyah saves the world from a highly contagious deadly virus by attempting to die after injecting herself with the entire supply of the virus. Her highly symbolic death attempt is by throwing her self into the chaotic ocean. By dying the virus would die with her. Here is another female Christ type, so popular in film today.
JUMPING INTO THE LIGHT. In a famous scene in 'Close Encounters' a little boy opens his front door to investigate the light from an alien spaceship just outside the door. Spielberg was inviting the audience to explore spirituality. And, to not fear it. Heroes now jump toward the light on a regular basis now.
THE DOVES AS THE SYMBOL OF GOD'S PRESENCE. Doves are a standard in John Woo films. He says, "I love doves. I am a Christian. Doves represent the purity of love, beauty. They're spiritual. Also the dove is a messenger between people and God."
DOVES ALSO REPRESENT THE HUMAN SOUL. Director Woo says that the dove represents "the soul, rescued and safe, and also pure of heart. So the dove became one of my habits: I used it in Hard-boiled, Face/Off, and in [M:I-2], at the end of the movie." Note how the dove and the person being shot have similar cross-like positions.
NEW ADAM BEARS THE IMAGE OF THE OLD ADAM. Ride 'em cowboy. Note the position of Ethan on his mount (motorcycle) as he goes for his gun. This is pure old western movie posturing. The old Adam/cowboy heroes (Roy Rodgers, Tom Mix, Gene Autry) live on in the new breed of savior archetypes. For a film that really underlines this evolving continuum, see 'Easy Rider'. The word Ethan means ancient in the original Hebrew
Our messianic archetypes, Ethan and Nyah save the world from its apocalypse. Nyah by taking on the sins/virus of the world. And, Nathan through incarnation. In a closing scene an evil being is incarnated in Nathan's 'skin.' He is killed by the evil Satan type villain. And moments later we see Nathan in a pseudo-resurrection fully empowered to defeat evil. "And the devil who had deceived (the world) was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were..." -Revelation 20:10.

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. " 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." 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."

When asked by Premiere about the use of doves, Woo stated, "I love doves. I am a Christian. Doves represent the purity of love, beauty. They're spiritual. Also the dove is a messenger between people and God. When I was in high school and I used to draw posters for the church, I would draw a picture of a dove. When I shot The Killer, these two men, the killer and the cop, they work in different ways, but their souls are pure, because they do the right thing. In the church scene, I wanted to bring them together. I wanted to use a metaphor of the heart. I came up with doves -- they're white. When the men die, I cut to the dove flying -- it's the soul, rescued and safe, and also pure of heart. So the dove became one of my habits: I used it in Hard-boiled, Face/Off, and in [M:I-2], at the end of the movie."

When asked which souls are saved in M:I-2? He responded, "I cannot tell you."


Bulletin Board:

Subject: Mission Impossible
Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2001
From: Mike

My responses are in blue -David

Dear David, It was with great interest that I discovered your website, and i thought 'wow... somebody who would review movies from a Christian perspective.'

I'm a little disappointed though. One of the greatest problems with our culture in North America- a culture where there is hardly any respect for life, traditionnal values, or even the existance of God- is our ability to rationalize. We rationalize about the fact that it's not really a life anyway, and abort millions of God's unique children each year.

I feel that you've rationnalized M:I-2 into some kind of prophetic movie- that through these great symbols, those souls who have no idea who Jesus is or why they need a relationship with him- might see an image of Christ in Tom Cruise? (Even John Woo, the director and a Christian, by the way, said this film had Christian symbolism, Cruise in cross position, the doves etc. So what is your point? Some sort of legalism? Some sort of sinner and saint check list? How boring).

Did you see the same movie I did? I went to M:I-2 on a date, and was embarassed to have brought a young lady I really cared about to that. (Embarrassed? Why?) I have not seen a movie that was so degrading to women (You have not seen many films) -the line where Anthony Hopkins says to Ethan that Nyah is a woman and therefore is completely capable of lying to a man and then sleeping with him without caring- do you think that's an image of God the Father? To degrade women like that? Do you think Jesus is driven to relationships by lust? By envy? (It's a secular film, good grief already. You judge it by a Christian standard. Apples and Oranges. What is going on with you. It you want a Biblically correct story, go to church. If you want a reflection of the culture, go to a movie. Holy cow!).

I find your parallels ...stretched at best. What we need now, in this culture of death, is not rationalization of things which upbuild sin (which is exactly what this movie did,) but for Christians to stand up and say 'there's a better way.' We don't need to sink to another level for entertainment- we need to restore God-given gifts to His glory. (Legalist for Jesus. -Your motto, not mine)

I'm sorry Dave, but I feel as though you're not reviewing movies for Christians- you're rationalizing movies for Christians. (I am not reviewing movies for Christians. I am talking to the world which I love very much. I am a Missionary and you are like a Pharisee do gooder. I am a sinner, you are a saint. I wish not to be a saint like you. I have no righteousness worth anything. I am wicked and evil. Please do not tell me how to be righteous)

One of the great early Christians, Augustine, who died in 430 said "What you contemplate you will become." (Augustine was very anti-woman too. Are you embarassed by some of his statements about women as you were in the movie) Our culture has been contemplating sin for so long, we are a culture of death. We must begin to contemplate LIFE (are you saying films never contemplate life? Hmm. Interesting. You are so wrong) - or else the Lord will return and count us among the goats (I am a goat! and proud of it. My only worth in in JC himself).

I will pray for you. -Mike

Subject: The Dove
Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2000
From: doug

Hello David. I enjoyed both MI2 and your write up. In your review of the Stallone film 'Daylight,' I commented that you could have taken the submerged crucifix symbol a little further. I believe that the same approach can be taken to the subject of director Woo's use of doves in MI2. Just after Ethan shoots at an explosive to blow up the door separating him from the bad guys in the island fortress, a dove flies in slow motion through a ring of fire as Ethan walks by... basically saying; "There's a new sheriff in town. Come and get me!" To me this illustrated both the hope of good overcoming evil, and Christ as an authority figure riding in to save the day. Anyway, keep up the good work! God Bless, Doug

Date: Tue, 1 Aug 2000
From: Amy

Just read your comments/responses for MI2 and What Lies Beneath. WOW! All I've got to say is PREACH IT BROTHER! The question has been raised, "Why are our churches emptying as our movie houses (cultural centers) are filling?" (see Hollywood Jesus Newsletter #16) Because our churches are losing touch with the reality of our world. We need to find out what our culture is doing and take the message to them instead of the typical church reaction - batton down the hatches and clutch our comfort zone close to our chest....and if anyone threatens what is comfortable then well, they're just plain wrong and we'll prove it by throwing scripture at it, while the organ plays all 975 verses of Just As I Am. I would suggest that after everyone looks up fidelity and monogamy, they spend some time reading the gospels and see just how Jesus did it. He didn't sit in a building and wait for society to figure out it needed him.... he took his show on the road. Leonard Sweet also writes of a young man who states "I wouldn't be a christian if it weren't for Jesus." A rather sad statement on his local church. Keep up the good work!

Subject: Sex and Violence
Date: Fri, 07 Jul 2000
From: Richard

David: I continue to be more and more concerned about the juxtaposition of sex and violence in what hollywood offers. Certainly I can appreciate the craft and artistry of John Woo, and Cruise and Newton are certainly gifted with an abundance of talent and physical attractiveness, but . . . . The relationship between Cruise and Newton is born of duplicity and ulterior motives. While Woo might start the film by showing Cruise as an "Apocalyptic Savior" in a crucified position, he wastes no time placing his "savior" between the legs of a somewhat unwilling woman - hardly standard messianic behavior.

As far as a "monogamous relationship born of caring and trust", you must be kidding! I saw a relationship of convenience and lust born of the physical attraction between two people who both had ulterior motives. The relationship barely has time to grow before Cruise sends her off to resurrect her relationship with an old flame - another union based on ulterior motives on both sides.

Lest I seem totally negative, I would like to note that this movie seems to eschew the use of copious amounts of profanity. It's nice to see that someone can write dialog without trying to turn the air blue at every opportunity.

Response: Yea, it is true the relationship does not really work as a geniune relation between two people who care for each other. I understand the script had to be rewritten even after the production was well under way. The story needed an emotionally mongamous romantic relationship -but, it does not happen. No chemistry -as they say. It is the weak point in the story.
BTW -Why is it that most Christian reviews, like the one you write, center on sex, violence and profanity? I am always amazed at that lack of spiritual insight. This is one reason why I started HJ. I wanted to approach pop culture from a Christ centered point of view rather than a moralistic point of view. Morality does not equal Jesus. Nor does morality equal spirituality. I wish Christians could see through different eyeglasses.

Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2000
From: Neil

David, why do we have to beat around the bush when it comes to Christianity and try to make it sound cool by likening it to movies that are "in". Wouldn't it be better to preach the word in and out of season (2 Tim 4:2 when it's popular and when it's not)? Today we are in need of Christians who will declare the truth and not compromise their morals or take hollywood as our examples for life. You mentioned Ethan and Nyah as being "The new Adam and Eve" in a "monogamous relationship of fidelity". Have you actually seen this movie? Do you know what "monogamous" and "fidelity" mean? I suggest all visitors to this site look up the meanings. Do you think it's right to align the inspired Word of God to the immorality of hollywood?
Regards, Youth Leader, Potters House, Darwin.

Comment: Well, motion pictures are now the universal language so I use 'em in an Acts 17:16-34 sort of a way. Monogamous? Literally, it means being married to one person. My use has to do with emotional fidelity. Perhaps I could pick another word. But, I don't know, it seems to work for me. Immorality of Hollywood? Yes, there is immorality in Hollywood, and sometimes even in the church. I think it's a universal problem. I mean, I think I am immoral at times (Rom 3:23). How is it for you? Aligning? I think dialog is better than throwing stones (John 8:3-11).

Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2000
From: Tom

Even though John Woo indicates he is a Christian, my spirit was definitely not lifted toward God in watching his Hard Target. So I gave Face Off a chance. Needless to say, I doubt if I will give M-I 2 a chance. The cost is just too high.

Response: Apples and oranges. The movie house is not church. There is a big difference. Never watch a film with the same expectations that you have when you go to church. Right?

Mission: Impossible 2© 2000 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.