Mission: Impossible 2
"Mission: Impossible 2" soundly kicks off the blockbuster Summer 2000 movie season.
It’s a sequel that’s a sequel in name only. In all other ways, this eye-popping, heart-stopping, and even somewhat romantic action extravaganza is a whole new Mission. Even with its shameful lineage —- the incomprehensible mess that was Brian Depalma’s 1996 take on the popular series —- "M:I-2" will undoubtedly thrill millions and break box-office records.
It’s an embarrassingly simple and effective formula: a straight plot, lots of stunts and explosions, and – this is key – John Woo at the helm.
Tom Cruise, looking more and more like a middle-aged rendition of Keanu Reeves, revisits his role as IMF (Impossible Mission Force, not International Monetary Fund) agent Ethan Hunt. He’s yanked out of vacation by a new boss (Anthony Hopkins, a natural) to figure out what former agent and now renegade rival Sean Ambrose (played by a convincingly evil Dougray Scott) is up to. He recruits notorious thief Nyah (Thandie Newton), old friend Luther (the ever cool Ving Rhames) and newcomer Wallis (William R. Mapother in a sadly forgettable role).
The kicker? Hunt seriously falls for Nyah, who eventually ends up in Sean’s clutches. In “Mission: Impossible 2,” Hunt’s motivation is not just saving the world, but saving his sweetheart as well.
This holds the story together wonderfully... at least in those short quiet stretches between pyrotechnic and stunt extravaganzas that leave you breathless.
“Mission: Impossible 2” is, in fact, more a John Woo movie than a Tom Cruise movie. The film reeks with every single one of Woo’s overused but still dazzling moviemaking signatures, from constant slow-motion interludes to two-fisted-while-somersaulting gunplay to unapologetic melodramatic music worthy of Moses’ sea-floor stroll. And he’s the undisputed king of action for good reason. From backbreaking stunts to wince-inducing fist fights, this movie has all the basics and then some.
This movie makes no claims of being a thinkers’ film, or even anything other than dazzling eye candy. The mission focuses on a chemical weapon and the dark side biotechnology, after all, but there’s not a single Seattle protester in sight.
So even though I’m not inclined to forgive the overuse of one particular “sneaky trick” (which renders one big climax fairly impotent), I won’t even complain that Thandie Newton – despite outspoken interviews to the contrary – does little besides look sexy and play the feisty cheese at the end of the maze. And I’ll only mention the slightly-too-long skull-smashing showdown.
Who would expect otherwise for such a testosterone blood fest?
“Ronin” was worth it just for the car chase. Similarly, “Mission: Impossible 2” is more than worth it for the rock climbing, the motorcycles, the Bond-esque gizmos (product placement alert!), the flipping and shooting, the big booms...
See it. Even if for no other reason than the fact that you’ll be ostracized as a freak inside of a month if you don’t.
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The Fellowship of the Ring (December 21, 2001)