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.
Not only will "M:I-2" satisfy previously insatiable action fans, it'll
provide endless fodder for the next "Austin Powers" sequel.