The first Mission: Impossible film seems a perfect update of the television series, director Brian DePalma using his penchant for Hitchcock to wind up the tension, perfectly matched to the twisty plot. It also contains little outright action until the hilariously preposterous finale. For the first sequel, star and producer Tom Cruise decided he needed a totally different approach and so hired director John Woo, who is renowned for turning action films into shoot out ballet with pigeons. Woo expanded the style of the highly implausible train in the Channel Tunnel finale and made the entire film like that and the results are frankly terrible; an ultra-arty, hugely pretentious, very explosive, slo-mo version of a Bond film. To add to the clatter, Woo drafted in Hans Zimmer to write a score about as far away from Elfman's effort as Woo's film is to DePalma's in style and quality. Whereas Elfman evoked Schifrin's style, but made it his own, Zimmer (and entourage) does his own thing. There are swathes of rock riffs, electric guitars, a minimum or orchestra and the occasional dollop of male voice choir for the comically over the top drama. Instead of Elfman's funky, orchestral upgrading of the M:I theme for the big screen, we get Zimmer's electric guitars laden one in track 5, which is loud and woefully bad. The quieter moments are, surprisingly, the best the album has to offer; Lisa Gerrard delivers some more of her pleasant vocals, most notably in Injection (covering one of the more stupid moments in the film). The fashion for flamenco music in film scores continues here in Seville. The foot tapping and clapping may be slightly old hat - indeed, it doesn't sound hugely different from Horner's Zorro, just vaguely generic and Spanish - but it's good on CD and works marvellously in the film with Woo's trademark slow motion direction.
Heitor Pereira provides a quite lovely acoustic guitar solo in Nyah (film version), one of the album's highlights. Unfortunately, it's one of the few of note and the whole thing is generally irritatingly eclectic and bounces between one uninspiring passage to another; the wailing guitars are especially unwanted. Each cue is designed to work as an item unto itself, but doesn't lend itself melodically, stylistically or dramatically toward any kind of end point. This would be just about acceptable if it was enjoyable, but if you don't enjoy the disparate elements, then you're still stuffed. I tried, I really did, but I can't recommend it and recommend the film even less. What a shame.
Many people raise their voices in anger every time it is announced that Hans Zimmer will score an action film. "Oh no, not another Media Ventures action score, with annoying synths all over the place" is some of the nicer comments by these people one might find on the Internet. So, when it became known that Hans Zimmer would provide the music for the second Mission: Impossible film, directed by John Woo, the film music world was, as usually, divided into two parts. Some were convinced that the world were coming to an end and the rest of us started to look forward to yet another score in the veins of the composers' music for The Rock, Crimson Tide and The Peacemaker. Probably nothing we hadn't heard before, but hopefully quite good. But instead, Hans Zimmer surprised us all with a score that bare no resemblance whatsoever to his past scores in the genre.
The score for Mission: Impossible 2 can basically be divided into two different styles. First of all - and this is my favorite - there's the latino influenced music, with beautiful acoustic guitar solos performed by Heitor Pereira. Cues like "Seville" and "Nyah and Ethan" offer music that resembles Zimmer's latino sounding score for The Road to El Dorado (which also featured guitar solos by Pereira). Very enjoyable and beautiful, if one likes that kind of music.
The other part is actually downright horrible, with really loud, obnoxious rock music. No orchestra, annoying electric guitars and even more annoying electric guitars make these cues nearly unlistenable. I don't really understand how anyone can appreciate such "music". Sure, it may work in the film. But on CD? Nope. Further, the classic Mission: Impossible theme has been completely mutilated, and had Lalo Schifrin been dead, he would probably have been spinning like a jo-jo in his grave... But what's even more annoying is the song, "Iko-Iko", performed by Zap Mama, that can be found in the second track. Avoid it at all cost.
But skip the bad parts and you have a rather beautiful, acoustic score, which also includes portions performed by Lisa Gerrard that are very reminiscent of her work on the score for Gladiator. Also very memorable is a dramatic choir piece, which, without doubt, many will regard as yet another Carmina Burana rip-off...