Mission: Impossible 2 (2000) – original review

Rating: N/A

Dir: John Woo
Star: Tom Cruise, Dougray Scott, Thandie Newton, Ving Rhames

Sitting there in a darkened theatre, waiting for the trailers to start, listening to the four guys in front of me discussing the dynamics of transporter functions, whether it would be prudent to transport someone’s atoms to the surface of the sun if there was a chance of reassembling them on the transport back, I had started wondering if perhaps I was in the wrong theatre.

My discomfort increased when the couple next to me joined in the conversation with their theories of time and temperature affecting transport if you were a murderer trying to place yourself in a poker game one hour prior and one hour after a murder, using a transporter so that you would not be detected. The hairs on the back of my neck rose up in alert when the three behind me piped in about why it was impossible to reassemble the atoms of a living organism (because the organism was always moving, only inanimate objects could be reassembled because… they… didn’t… move…). I didn’t move either. I stayed very still, wondering where the hell was I? Why was I surrounded by Trekkies? How weird is this? But then I remembered who was credited for writing this movie…

A Room With a View…of Hell,
Staircase of Satan…
Pond of DEATH…

Get the biggest popcorn bucket you can handle, sit down, buckle up, shut up and hold on.

Wow. Great action. The motorcycle chase scene was literally jaw-dropping: motorcycles were never built to do stunts like that. I was so amazed. Lots of very classic Woo-isms, which is one of my favorite games to play watching his movies, and I love to spot them [One very important one was left out, but I won’t say which.]

The story was kinda lame, and I had a very difficult time believing the romantic edge of it, although I will admit that I do believe in love at first sight. But Cruise and Newton had no chemistry between them. And I always have a tough time with those (Dark Man-ish) masks that they pull off their faces so that you can never tell who is really who. The bad guy Scott (known for his memorable appearances in Ever After, Deep Impact and Princess Caraboo) was mean enough, as the former IMF guy who turned greedy and decided to threaten the world by selling the antidote to a lethal lab-created virus to the highest bidder, yada…yada… As I said, kinda lame story, but I always love technology, toys and some of the most unbelievable action stunts ever.

I was disappointed that Tom Cruise didn’t walk out of a hospital holding a baby, with a cigarette in his mouth, because that would have been a signature and a half. Rhames was kept in the background, and I would have liked to see him have more presence on the screen. And Anthony Hopkins: I have no clue what he was doing in the three minutes he was in this movie. For his part, really, anyone would have done. They should’ve saved the money and put it towards a better screenplay. But it is a great action movie, and must be seen on the big screen to be truly appreciated. The locations were spectacular and majestic, although I could tell the Trekkers weren’t thrilled that the Enterprise didn’t show up to save the Earth this time. The rule about sequels never being as good as the first film does not apply here: this looked and felt better, and I look forward to seeing the next one.

[TC editor: the film sums up both the best, and the worst, of Hollywood cinema. It’s gloriously excessive, and anyone who denies that they felt adrenalin surging through their bodies for the entire last 30 minutes should be checked for a pulse. However, it is an astonishingly empty movie, particularly in a first half which completely fails to go anywhere. This is largely down to Thandie Newton, who holds back every scene in which she appears, and the supposed appeal of her squashed little features is entirely lost on me.

Once she is moved aside, John Woo is allowed to roll up his sleeves and hurl set-piece after set-piece at the camera; at times it’s unclear whether he is sinking into cliche, or engaging in sly self-parody. The plot sucks – there’s no other word for it – and I can’t help but feel nostalgic for the days when Woo made films which had a little more (indeed, any) emotional content. Still, if you’re not looking for that sort of thing, this is entirely fine.]