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IN SHORT: An average John Woo flick. [Rated PG-13, 125 minutes]
"Good morning Mr. Hunt (Tom Cruise). The picture you see is a Dr. Nekhorvich (Radé Sherbedgia) of Biocyte Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Nekhorvich was killed in a plane crash while on his way to deliver something to us. We don't know what but it's really dangerous. IM agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) was on the plane, too, and we haven't found the body. We're not sure where he is, if he's screwed us, or exactly what your mission is, other than to stop something really nasty from happening. We're sure you'll figure it out along the way. Oh, you can only use two agents and you must include a civilian thief named Nyah Hall (Thandie Newton) on the team. We know we're not supposed to configure your team, but we can discuss that when you come over and discuss the matter in person with us (Anthony Hopkins). If you or any member of you IM team should be caught or killed, yada yada yada. Have a nice day."
With all the baggage of the past buried and forgotten, John Woo takes up the director's reigns, overseeing the one-man strike force that is Ethan Hunt, leader of the Impossible Mission "team," in Mission: Impossible 2. Woo, whose visual sense can make a boy giddy, lets loose with both barrels and all the visual fireworks he can put on the big screen. That's a good thing 'cuz the M:I2 script stinks. Like its big screen predecessor this flick has very little in common with the television series it is based upon, other than a self-destructing set of instructions and characters pulling rubber mask disguises off their faces. We don't compare to Source Material. Fans of the series can figure out what's different from the paragraph above.
Then again, it's summertime, when all most of us want out of a movie is onscreen fireworks and a reason to plunge our mitts into the extra-large-super-sized popcorn up to our elbows. M:I2 delivers that in spades, refusing to cut fight scenes that run on too long, resorting to makeup gimmicks instead of developing a great story and, in short, refusing to roll over and play dead when its story was done. It's almost as if the writers and Woo sat down and figured out what would be really cool to do and which really cool bits would be even cooler if shot in slow motion, and then wrote the script around them. That means a motorcycle duel, a half naked Cruise on a rock and the gun in the sand bits that are in the teevee commercial, and a wee bit of "aerobatic insanity" that reprises something in the last flick and which had the audience happily giggling.
Absolutely giddy. Myself included. I told you.
If you're a novice to the concept, the IM is a secret force that manipulates situations to bring about conclusions that punish the evil guys and ensure that truth, justice and the American way win out. In this case, it's the story of one renegade agent and his possession of an artificially created strain of influenza that could devastate the world. The "good" IM team -- our heroes include Ving Rhames, the only returnee from M:I1 and John Polson as an almost utterly dispensable guy with an Australian accent, useful since the film is set in Australia -- must track and destroy another -- Richard Roxbury is the muscle on bad guy Ambrose's side -- using the civilian and a small tracking device implanted in Newton's ankle, as bait. The notion of one IM team against another one is a good one. The problem is that one team leader knows all about the moves of the other, and not vice versa. The bad guys also have all the IM technology, so how they miss the tracking device is news to me.
No, it's not. It's scriptwriters ignoring the obvious. It's scriptwriters ignoring what they've written earlier in the script. But, just as in the last flick, this series is not so much about the story as it is about Ethan Hunt, $20 million dollar action figure. That being the case, Tom Cruise is absolute dynamite in black clothing. He makes a great John Woo movie action toy. The action sequences, as in everything John Woo does, are the reason to lay out hard cash to see the flick. Bullets fly. Explosions, um, explode. Cruise does unbelievable physical things believably and gets a love interest to boot. So the hell with history and any requirement of logic in the script.
Buy the extra big popcorn and stick to the small soda. This sequel is less complicated than the last one, but if you have to make a quick run, you'll still miss something important.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Mission: Impossible 2, he would have paid...
It's a summertime, popcorn dateflick. All sweetener and no nutritional value at all.
[... and Paramount Pictures showed MI:2 to the New York critics at the same time the Knicks and the Miami Heat faced off in Game 7 of the NBA Playoffs. New Yorker that I am, I went to the screening . . . the things I do for you people...]
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