Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mission: Impossible II (2000)

Enough with the slo-motion!

Director John Woo quickly wore out my patience with his repeated - and, boy, do I mean repeated, use of slo-motion in this second effort in the Mission: Impossible franchise. Beware this film.

To Woo, I say this, "Arrrggghhh!" I feel a little better now.

Agent (is that what you call him?) Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has his vacation interrupted by pressing business. Why can't a guy climb an impossible rock face with his bare hands without being left alone? Sheesh.

Work in an Australian laboratory has spawned a deadly contagion. Hunt can pick two agents of his choice to work with, but he must recruit Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton). She's the former paramour of bad guy Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott). Her participation can buy entry into Ambrose's heavily fortified base with a great ocean view. Hunt has to woo Nordoff-Hall, a very efficient cat burglar with no conscience, first.

An early car chase between Hunt and Nordoff-Hall is a prime example of this slo-mo silliness. The lady's souped-up vehicle is at risk of going over a cliff. Yet, as her car spins out of control, she and Hunt lock meaningful eyes with each other. Yeah, right.

Ambrose is a great villain. His chief henchman, Hugh Stamp (Richard Roxburgh), is a great No. 2. No problem here, even if the threats to digits has been done before more effectively.

But, to quote American bluesman B.B. King, the thrill is gone in this second film. Hunt's efforts to destroy the bad bug has its moments, but it's almost a replay of one of the best scenes in the first Mission: Impossible. Enter target area from above, avoid capture, and get out within a certain time frame.

The final chase scene, which viewers should be able to see coming based on how villains typically square off with heroes at a movie's end, is ludicrous. What's the deal with Hunt's eye and impending death anyway? The jousting scene with two motorcycles gets marks for creativity, but Hunt riding side saddle on his bike at a high speed, with his shoes skimming along the roadway? Come on! His Hush Puppies would be smoking if not ripped off, unless his footwear is also especially crafted in a lab for government agents.

While the action scenes didn't do much for me, Mission: Impossible II does offer the occasional zinger of dialogue. "You whacked out Russian gypsy" gets my vote for best insult. Hunt's "Damn, you're beautiful," to Nordoff-Hall as they admire each other in bed the morning after is perhaps best not repeated by male movie-goers to their significant others. Ambrose, who scores points as a pretty nasty doer of evil, gets to order his henchman to "Run that bastard (Hunt) down."
Mission: Impossible II doesn't do much as a sequel. What a disappointment.

RATING: 4/10

FUN FACTS: William Mapother made his film debut in Born on the Fourth of July in 1989. The star? Tom Cruise. Northern Ontario residents may be interested to know Mapother also appeared in Edwin Boyd, shot in Sault Ste. Marie.

Thandie Newton played Condoleeza Rice in W.

I'm pretty sure Scott was a little nicer in ever after: a cinderella story

1 comment:

Roman J. Martel said...

Yeah John Woo either works for you, or he doesn't. I think his visual style can be a lot of fun, over the top, but that's the whole point. At the same time all that slow-mo can make the movie drag. I don't think many of his Hollywood flicks were that good. His Hong Kong films were much more interesting and worked in context.

This movie has it's moments, but it's easily the weakest of the franchise.