Action
Mission Impossible 2: M:I-2
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Dir: John Woo
Star: Tom Cruise, Thandie Newton, Dougray Scott, Ving Rhames, Richard Roxburgh
Cert / Year: 18 / 2002
Format: DVD R2
'

After his vacation is cut short due to a certain type of message which will self destruct in 5 seconds, IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) must track down renegade IMF agent and all round bad egg, Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) before he can unleash a terrible virus called "Chimera" upon the world, which he stole from an old friend of Hunt's. Hunt enlists the help of sultry thief Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton) who happens to be Ambrose's ex girlfriend to help find Ambrose. Only problem is, Hunt is now falling for her and he must send her into the lion's den to help stop him and find out exactly what they are dealing with. Both want the girl and both want the "Chimera" and both will stop at nothing to get them. In the ensuing globetrotting pursuit which takes them to sunny Australia, Hunt learns the true scope of the menace that the unsuspecting world faces at the hands of designer viruses....

Oh dear. What were they thinking. Mission Impossible was a pretty good film, with a decent enough story, which nicely brought the classic television show up to date, but this is what they followed it up with and this incarnation is rather disappointing ... for silly reasons. The "story" is boring and heavily clichéd, offering nothing original, and relying instead upon old episodes of The Avengers and the like for its basis. Added to that is the now standard fare of overt CGI effects and wire work to produce some "incredible" fight scenes. This patronising and plagiarised script is dull, and knowing that you have seen similar before, just makes this fruit all the more bitter to swallow, but if that weren't enough it deems it necessary to telegraph every plot point to you and then get one of the cast to repeat it and explain the facts in case you missed it the first time round. I mean, really. Do the film makers have that little faith in the intelligence of the audience that they have to dumb it all down THAT much?

The film's opening sequence featuring a CGI assisted, vertigo inducing scaling of a rock face by the Cruise-ster was quite well done and looks impressive enough in a post Cliffhanger sort of way. It is really a bit of an indulgence by Tom Cruise though as he tries to promote himself as an "action star". The whole unassisted scaling of a sheer rock face was done well originally and that is not here, and certainly not in xXx either which also recently copied it. Much as I hate to admit it but Rambo 3 beat them to it and did it better, mainly as you know that CGI couldn't have done it back then. Admittedly that was a rather mundane little action film which was prone to extreme silliness but Stallone carried it off far better. Tom Cruise is about as convincing a martial artist as Miss Piggy is a chicken. Don't get me wrong, the Cruise-ster can do some "action" but as far as martial arts are concerned he just can't pull it off. He may well be athletic, but he is no exponent so merely appears false and unconvincing in his fight scenes, no matter how well photographed or choreographed they are. I haven't seen much of Thandie Newton's work but she has ample talent and what I have seen is so much better than this. Here she is subjected to being cast as a dreary "British" thief in a horridly stereotypical way and becomes a shameless damsel in distress setting the "women's movement" back another 20 years. Dougray Scott can just pack his bags, as he has an uncanny knack of being perhaps the most annoying bad guy ever and has quite a grating personality, making him hard to watch in addition to being totally unconvincing. Richard Roxburgh plays his "fruity" and cheesy henchman, complete with comedy South African accent and a whole postage stamp full of acting performance. Overall though the majority of the acting is just about passable.

As you would expect from a John Woo movie, you get your usual ingredients of exciting motorcycle chases (no matter how implausible or how often the tyres miraculously change to suit the terrain mid chase), pigeons framing the action scenes, and cool fight and action choreography even if they are now full of CGI effects. Slick direction works hand in hand with some beautiful photography but no longer relies upon the camera as the real tool which is where many films are now falling foul. Poor old John Woo, he went from being one of, if not the most, influential film maker in the Far East and since he hit the USA, he has merely "cobbled together" some films around a series of ever more demanding and adventurous action scenes. This has resulted in some disjointed and muddled film projects which have not exactly endeared him to the US audiences or some of his prior advocates. You do get the feeling that this has been a little butchered in editing, but it is quite long enough already so I dread to think what was cut out. John Woo has already established that he has a fantastic eye for direction and a knack for action not to mention a distinct artistic flair with his photography, so the question remains why is he ignoring his real talents and going for the CGI. He doesn't need CGI to create some fantastic movies, he has already proven that with most of his Asian films, perhaps it is a disease that you catch when you go to make films in Hollywood and one day the Betty Ford Clinic can offer treatments for it. Until then however, it looks like we are going to be stuck with it.

The Laboratory shootout set piece is very cool and slick and bears all of Woo's hallmarks, and is reminiscent of the tea house shootout in Hard Boiled. A fruitless, laborious film, full of pretentious flights of fancy from either Cruise or Woo, as they both try to make more of it. This is still an entertaining movie, dumb as hell but entertaining in an enjoyable low brow way as long as you don't want to think about it. By no means a classic and not likely to be. There are a couple of mildly surprising and visually impressive scenes, but nothing blisteringly original really. If you want more in a film than a flimsy plot governed by the action then watch something else. The CGI assisted masks which proved so popular in a terribly predictable way in the first film arise yet again here, but this time, with a bigger budget they are used far more and are used at every conceivable opportunity and tend to detract from the previously good idea to aid the plot. They have veritably taken over now and appear constantly in one form or another. It was a good idea originally.... when it first appeared way back in From Russia with Love, but now it has been done to death in the space of a couple of movies.

Exciting and well directed action scenes and chases, but implausible and over the top. Some beautiful photography is marred by CGI likewise some of the otherwise fantastic direction is spoilt by the encroachment of CGI. The plot of the movie is thin, with a capital "T" and resembles a certain Swiss dairy product, it has that many holes. Some holes are so big you could drive a car and several Triumph motorcycles through (mmmmmm, Triumph Daytona.... nice). The script is quite poor on the whole and proves to be a tedious and protracted affair affording little to no opportunity for the cast to do anything other than play second fiddle to some burgeoning action set pieces. There are a couple of good lines in there, and some dismal quips also, like "If I tell you where I'm going on holiday, it wouldn't be a holiday!" works the first time you hear it during the explosive opening sequence but they repeat several times it so you get sick of hearing it. Personally I think Anthony Hopkins gets most of the best lines in his small appearance.

Quotes

Well Mr. Hunt, this isn't mission difficult, it's mission impossible..... "Difficult" should be a walk in the park for you.

Ethan Hunt: She's got no training for this.
Commander Swanbeck: What? To go to bed with a man and lie to him? She's a woman. She's got all the training she needs.

Rating: 2 out of 5

DVD
Picture 2.35:1 Anamorphic Excellent crisp image
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Very slick- a good bassy mix
Features Very cool animated menu
Excellent Metallica music video - "I, Dissappear"
Cast & Crew interviews
"Mission incredible" stunts featurette
"Mission Improbable" -Superb MTV Movie awards parody featuring Ben Stiller as Tom Crooz
Director's Commentary
Alternate Title Sequence
"Impossible Shots" Series of special Effect Stunt Storyboards
DVD-ROM Features: The Legend of Chimera, Mission Locations, M:I-2 Tech Tools, Agent Dossiers
Verdict A superb disc well designed and set out with some excellent extras. A top notch presentation, with cool content. Worth buying for "Mission Improbable" alone.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home