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Mission: Impossible II

With $180 million in domestic grosses in the bank from 1996's "Mission:

Impossible," how could there NOT be a sequel?


This time around, high-tech Boy Scout Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) must track

down a deadly supervirus, save the world from dastardly rogue agent Sean

Ambrose (Dougray Scott) and steal the heart of a damsel in distress

(Thandie Newton). From the first outlandish scene, it's obvious that

this film should be called "Mission: Improbable" as Cruise dangles from

rocks at incredible heights, flinging himself around like a well-groomed

monkey and coming away scrape-free as he slides down the craggy

mountainside. Where the Bond films have a sense of humor about

themselves, "M:I-2" takes itself far too seriously.


This movie is more about explosions than emotions. Rather than acting,

Newton (as the obligatory international jewel thief) spends much of the

film posing like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. Her romance with

Cruise seems unlikely since none of the characters engage in

conversations, sacrificing dialogue for "clever" quips. Cruise runs,

jumps and kicks but never demonstrates a fraction of the acting muscles

flexed in "Magnolia." Scott is convincingly devious as Cruise's

doppelganger and turncoat (Note to IMF: You're training more crooks than

cops!), but it's Ving Rhames who shows the most cool ("That punk put a

hole in my Versace!"). Don't blink or you'll miss the bookend

performance by Anthony Hopkins.


Action director John Woo ("Face/Off") veers far from the first film

(directed by Brian De Palma), choosing to stamp "M:I-2" with his own

trademarks, among them slo-mo action and a hand-to-hand, foot-to-foot

final showdown. (Scott deserves to be kickboxed in the face for the

hideous denim suit he's wearing.) Throughout the violent, cartoonish

action, Woo places his characters in a seemingly unpopulated (but

beautiful) Australia, free of bystanders or police, allowing the spy vs.

spy games to play out undisturbed.

Bottom Line

Not only will "M:I-2" satisfy previously insatiable action fans, it'll

provide endless fodder for the next "Austin Powers" sequel.