Forget 1996's often-confusing series kickoff. (Mission: Improbable was more like it.) Even without the lit match and fuse, this sequel is a distinct improvement. Sure, Cruise flashes those pearly whites for all he's worth, but this Mission gets spectacular when director Woo, who can add the right action tonic to most anything ordinary, sets fire to the screen.
He's a perfect coconspirator, introducing enough gadgets, stunts and effects to keep the pace pumping along and the audience's collective breath held tight. The plot is nothing new--very much of the 007 variety--as Polson and too-cool Rhames help Cruise try to derail the dissemination of a killer flu virus by the bad guys. But Newton, normally seen in reserved period pieces, certainly has enough sex appeal to keep the boys--both on the screen and in the theater--rapt.