Mission: Impossible 2
"Woo fans will definitely not be disappointed."
- James H.
Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)
Director: John Woo
Producer: Terence Chang, Tom Cruise, Paul Hitchcock, Paula Wagner
Writer: Bruce Geller (television series Mission: Impossible), Brannon Braga , Ronald D. Moore, Robert Towne
Cast: Tom Cruise, Dougray Scott, Thandie Newton, Ving Rhames, William R. Mapother , Brendan Gleeson, Anthony Hopkins, John Polson, Dominic Purcell , Richard Roxburgh, Rade Serbedzija
Running Time: ?
Plot: Ethan Hunt leads his IMF team to re-capture and destroy a deadly German manufactured virus before it falls in the wrong hands.
JOE909'S REVIEW: John Woo's power as a filmmaker is not only so great that I consider him the best action director ever, but also that, just because of his association with it, I actually watched the sequel to what I considered one of the worst movies of the 1990s: the first Mission: Impossible. That movie, with it's "let's just confuse everyone instead of telling an actual story; the kids'll love it" attitude, pissed me off to no end. So much so that when I saw the trailer for M:I-2 a few years later, I had no intention of seeing it, regardless of Woo's presence. Plus there was also the fact that I hadn't liked any of Woo's US films. I figured that, like the first one, Mission: Impossible 2 would be nothing more than a vanity vehicle for Tom Cruise.
Well, I recently watched this movie, and discovered that I was half right. This is certainly a vanity project for Cruise: he does his own stunts (seemingly), we watch him climb a mountain barehanded, and in each and every scene he's dressed in the most expensive clothes possible. And, just to let us know how cool he is, he even takes the time to slip on a pair of shades during the climactic gun battle.
But still, this movie isn't bad at all. It's probably the best movie Woo's done in Hollywood, as all of his trademarks show up intact: slow-motion, guys holding a pistol in each hand, doves, everything. Even though it's his best movie, it's not my favorite Hollywood Woo film; that honor, believe it or not, still goes to "Hard Target." A movie hated by many, true, but one day I'll do a review and go into why I actually think it's the best Woo's done over here. Well, actually, I can sum it up right now, in one word: Action.
Action is something "Hard Target" had in spades, that is noticeably lacking from M:I-2, at least until the second half of the movie. Mission: Impossible 2 is more cloak-and-dagger suspense than James Bond action. There are a few, brief bits of action in the first half of the film, but they're more of the car chase/run and hide variety. It isn't until an hour and fifteen minutes into the movie until the first gun is fired. From then on, though, it's classic John Woo action, with bullets flying everywhere. The violence has obviously been toned down, though. There's hardly any blood in the movie at all. I'm guessing this isn't Woo's doing, though. You can tell by the way scenes play out that the violence was filmed, but was later trimmed for a PG-13 rating. The most obvious example of this is the opening scene on an airplane, when a poor sap gets his neck broken.
The cast is good, though Ving Rhames is wasted entirely. He literally sits in front of a computer throughout the movie. Dougray Scott, who looks like Ewan McGregor's older brother, is good as the villain, if a little non-menacing. Thandie Newton is exceptionally attractive, though her "globe-trotting, beautiful thief" character has been done to death in these sort of movies. And Tom Cruise actually is believable in his role as the death-defying spy: he looks right at home, running around with a gun in each hand. He looks a hell of a lot better doing it than John Travolta did, that's for sure.
Overall, I'd recommend the film. Other than a few plot holes and some implausibility factors (such as the magical masks that appear out of nowhere, exactly when needed), I'd say it's a positive sign that Woo still has the touch.
JOE909'S RATING: 7.5/10
JAMES H'S REVIEW: After viewing the film in question, I am certain John Woo is the only director that can make Tom Cruise look like an action hero. Gone are the boyish looks Cruise had in the first film. Here he showcases a tougher, darker edge.
The plot of M:I-2 has Ethan Hunt returning to recover a stolen virus known as Chimera. The man that has stolen it is ever so recently disavowed IMF agent Sean Ambrose (devilishly played by Dougray Scott). He plans to sell it and make millions. To do this successfully, Hunt recruits the help of Luther Stickell (Rhames), some other second-hand agent and Ambrose's ex-lover Nyah (Thandie Newton).
Some may say, "Hey, that sounds like a second-rate Bond movie plot." That may be so, however, it should be known that the original "Mission: Impossible" was created in the wake of the Bond-mania in the 60s. And really, isn't every spy-like movie a Bond knock-off in some way?
The performances are good considering the material. As I said, Scott is great as the villain; he's very slick. Cruise is also good, but his character isn't developed as much as I hoped (not that he was well developed in the first one either). Everyone looks like they were having a fun time, with the exception of Anthony Hopkins in his little cameo.
The biggest difference from the first movie is the amount of action. Woo fans will definitely not be disappointed. Cruise gracefully runs around with a gun in each hand. Jumping and diving from explosions in slow-mo. The chase at the end is intense and exciting. The final fight is also great. Cruise and Scott show off some nice moves.
When it's all over, you'll want to see it again. "Mission: Impossible 2" is a visually stunning movie, and will solidify Woo's good name in Hollywood.
JAMES H'S RATING: 8.5/10