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Mission Impossible 2

Starring Tom Cruise
Screenplay by Robert Towne
Story by Ronald D. Moore & Brannon Braga
based on the TV series created by Bruce Geller
Directed by John Woo

by Paul Fischer. Click here for Cranky's review

Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt, IMF (Impossible Missions Force) pointman, who, as the film opens, has his rock-climbing vacation interrupted by an emergency summons to Seville, Spain, where the IMF boss (Anthony Hopkins) dispatches him to apprehend a malevolent that has designs on threatening the world with a deadly virus called Chimera. To complete his mission, Hunt nabs M:I's only other holdover in Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) as well as a wisecracking Aussie agent (John Polson). Hunt is also instructed to recruit the services of a civilian master thief named Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton), who also happens to be an ex-lover of Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott), the IMF's target.

First the good news: The plot in this Mission: Impossible actually makes sense. The bad news is, the film contains about 40 minutes of great footage, while the rest of the film is awash in boredom. It's an unusual project for action director John Woo to take on, and it shows. There are flashes of Woo's operatic genius in the choreographing of action sequences, beginning with a startling opening, and some set pieces which are cinematically breathtaking. And there are the usual Woo moments, the doves (here out of place), use of lighting and the rhythmic way in which he stylishly executes martial arts.

Where the movie falls apart, and where Woo's weakness inherently lay, is when the movie stops the action and tries to explain itself. Here is a film devoid of any real sense of character and its purpose remains unclear. What we have in this Mission, is a James Bond film by any other name: The high tech gadgets, the megalomaniac villain, sultry girl and exotic locales are all prevalent. Its association with the far more inventive TV series is thin at best. To be fair, there are some visually breathtaking sequences and performances are fine for the most part. Cruise gives an earnest performance here, looks good and is at his best when not uttering screenwriter Robert Towne's innocuous dialogue; Thandie Newton looks ravishing but little more, and Rhames and Polson add to the film's much needed comic relief (the latter in particular is fun to watch). Aussie Richard Roxburgh is annoying as a henchman (what was he thinking) and principal villain Dougray Scott is suitably one-dimensional.

The lensing of Sydney is gorgeous enough, and the city becomes a major star of the film, though we could have done without the kangaroos and one too many shots of the Opera House. But MI2 will go a long way for Aussie tourism. As for the rest of the film, your mission, if you choose to accept it, is simply ignore this multimillion dollar mess of a film that simply allows Cruise to play at James Bond minus the martini and English accent.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. On the scale, Paul sets his own price to Mission: Impossible 2 at ...


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