Ethan Hunt is alerted by the IMF that someone has used his identity to assist bio-chemical expert Dr. Vladimir Nekhorvich to enter the United States, only to kill him in a subsequent plane crash. Nekhorvich, an old friend of Ethan, had forewarned the IMF of his arrival, planning to deliver to them a new bioweapon, Chimera, and its cure, Bellerophon. He was forced to develop these by Biocyte Pharmaceuticals. IMF determines that rogue IMF agent Sean Ambrose is responsible. IMF assigns Ethan to recover the virus and its cure. It also insists that he recruits Nyah Nordoff-Hall, a professional thief presently operating in Seville, Spain. Later, Ethan finds out that she is Ambrose's ex-girlfriend.
After recruiting Nyah, Ethan assembles his team, computer expert Luther Stickell and pilot Billy Baird, in Sydney, Australia, where Biocyte laboratories are located and Ambrose is staying. As Ethan stakes out Biocyte, Nyah gets close to Ambrose and begins to learn about the Chimera virus. At a horse racing event, Ambrose meets with Biocyte's CEO, John C. McCloy. He shows McCloy a video of Chimera affecting one of Nekhorvich's colleagues. He then blackmails McCloy into cooperating with him. Nyah steals video footage and transfers it to Ethan. Ethan's team learn that Chimera has a 20-hour dormant period before it causes death by mass destruction of the victim's red blood cells. Bellerophon can only save the victim if used within that 20-hour window.
The IMF team kidnaps McCloy to force him to give up Bellerophon. However, they learn that the only samples of Bellerophon were taken by Nekhorvich, and are now in Ambrose's hands. Ambrose has the cure, but does not have the virus (which Nekhorvich injected himself with). As a result, Ambrose forced McCloy to exchange a sample of the virus for a sample of Bellerophon. The team break into Biocyte to destroy the virus. Ambrose, posing as Ethan, tricks Nyah into revealing his plan. Ambrose captures Nyah and raids Biocyte to secure the virus. Ethan is able to destroy all but one sample of the virus before Ambrose intervenes, and a firefight ensues. Ambrose orders Nyah to retrieve the last sample of Chimera. She injects herself with it, preventing Ambrose from simply killing her to get it. Ambrose takes Nyah away, and Ethan escapes from the laboratory.
Ambrose lets Nyah wander the streets of Sydney in a daze, intending to start a pandemic. He offers to sell Bellerophon to McCloy in exchange for stock options, to make him the majority shareholder. He predicts that the price of Biocyte's stock will skyrocket due to demand for Bellerophon after the Chimera outbreak. Ethan infiltrates the meeting and steals the remaining samples of Bellerophon. While Ethan is pursued by Ambrose, Luther and Billy locate Nyah, who has wandered to a cliff side, intent on killing herself to prevent Chimera from spreading. Ethan eventually gains the upper hand over Ambrose and kills him. With little time left on the 20-hour countdown, Luther reaches Ethan, takes Bellerophon and injects Nyah with it. IMF clears Nyah's criminal record and Ethan starts his vacation with her in Sydney.Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt
Dougray Scott as Sean Ambrose
Thandie Newton as Nyah Nordoff-Hall
Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell
Richard Roxburgh as Hugh Stamp
John Polson as Billy Baird
Brendan Gleeson as John C. McCloy
Radé Sherbedgia as Dr. Nekhorvich
William Mapother as Wallis
Dominic Purcell as Ulrich
Mathew Wilkinson as Michael
Anthony Hopkins has an uncredited cameo role as Mission Commander Swanbeck.
According to screenwriter Robert Towne several action sequences were already planned for the film prior to his involvement and before the story had been written.
The studio expressed concern over the safety of shooting Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise)'s entrance in the film, where he is free solo climbing in Moab, Utah's Dead Horse Point State Park. Cruise refused to drop the idea because he could not think of a better way to reintroduce the character. There was no safety net as he filmed the sequence, but he did have a harness. He tore his shoulder when performing Hunt's jump from one part of the cliff to another.
The first trailer to the film was released in November 1999 and was later shown before Pokemon: The First Movie.
The film's original score was composed by Hans Zimmer and features vocals performed by Lisa Gerrard. In addition, the film includes contemporary music such as Limp Bizkit's rendition of Lalo Schifrin's Mission: Impossible theme entitled "Take a Look Around" as well as Metallica's "I Disappear".
While vacationer Ethan is rock climbing, Zap Mama's remixed version of "Iko Iko" plays on the soundtrack.
In its North American opening weekend, the film grossed $57,845,297, ranking at #1. It held on to the No. 1 spot for three weekends. The film eventually grossed $215,409,889 in its North American release and $330,978,216 in other territories, totaling $546,388,105 worldwide, the highest-grossing film of 2000. It was also John Woo's highest grossing film of all time.
Mission: Impossible 2 received mixed to positive reviews, with critics praising the fast-paced action scenes, Tom Cruise's performance and Hans Zimmer's musical score, but criticizing the plot, dialogue, little resemblance to its source material, and overall lack of substance. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes indicates the film was certified as "Rotten" with overall approval rating of 57% based on 143 reviews, with an average score of 5.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Your cranium may crave more substance, but your eyes will feast on the amazing action sequences". Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 59 out of 100, based on 40 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said that "if the first movie was entertaining as sound, fury, and movement, this one is more evolved, more confident, more sure-footed in the way it marries minimal character development to seamless action." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly felt the film was a "throwaway pleasure" but also "a triumph of souped-up action." Ella Taylor of LA Weekly said that "every car chase, every plane crash, every potential drop off a cliff is a masterpiece of grace and surprise." Desson Howe of The Washington Post said that "[John] Woo [...] takes complete command of the latest technology to create brilliant action sequences." Lou Lumenick of the New York Post said, "Check your brains at the popcorn stand and hang on for a spectacular ride."
J. Hoberman of The Village Voice called the film "a vaguely absurd thriller filled with elaborately superfluous setups and shamelessly stale James Bond riffs." Dennis Harvey of Variety said the film is "even more empty a luxury vehicle than its predecessor" and that it "pushes the envelope in terms of just how much flashy packaging an audience will buy when there's absolutely nada inside." Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader said that "no hero or villain winds up carrying any moral weight at all."
In a retrospective commentary in 2012, Brad Brevet noted the film has significant similarities in plot and themes to Alfred Hitchcock's 1946 film Notorious.
Mission: Impossible 2 was nominated for two Golden Raspberry Awards at the 2000 ceremony, including Worst Remake or Sequel and Worst Supporting Actress for Thandie Newton.
A comedy short titled Mission: Improbable was shown during the 2000 MTV Movie Awards. It is a mockumentary of the behind-the-scenes stunts of Mission: Impossible 2, and stars Cruise, Ben Stiller, and Woo.