Director John Woo helms this massive 124-minute action epic as Tom Cruise returns as IMF agent Ethan Hunt who must have taken some serious martial arts lessons during his time off. Set in Spain, Australia and other various locations, Mission Impossible 2 (MI2) knows how to entertain a wide audience with a great motorcycle stunt showcase and many other exciting action sequences. The only disappointing element of MI2 would probably be the plot which doesn’t reach the same plateau as the great, unpredictable plot in the original Mission Impossible (MI). MI2’s plot seems “dumbed down” because they’re feared a backlash of the first MI when people complained that the plot was too complicated. MI2 tries to lead the audience to draw certain conclusions about certain characters, but this attempt doesn’t quite equal MI‘s unpredictability and even copies a few plot aspects previously seen in MI.
For maximum plot satisfaction in MI2, your main focuses should be the attention to details in the plot and the reasons behind each character’s decisions. The plot provokes some tepid emotions with a fairly good romance between Ethan Hunt and Myah, played by Thandie Newton (Beloved, Interview With a Vampire). Hunt’s dialogue to Myah during a tense action sequence may remind of similar words spoken to Madeline Stowe by Daniel Day Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans.
Hunt’s support team includes the return of Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and newcomer, Australian Billy Baird (John Polson). Luther had a good supporting role in the first Mission Impossible installment, but the sequel’s role doesn’t really give him much to do but clean up after Hunt and review the logistics of their mission. One exterior action scene makes a weak attempt to boost the involvement of his character, but comes off as a forced attempt to make Luther more prominent in the plot. Baird basically functions as a guide who reacts to the action they way MI2’s producers think the audience will react.
The competitive, vengeful relationship between Hunt and antagonist Sean Ambrose provides the best fuel for the plot as they try to outmaneuver each other based on their tactical knowledge as IMF agents. Richard Roxburgh plays Ambrose’s right hand man Hugh Stamp and Brendan Gleeson (soon to be seen in the upcoming films, A.I. and Gangs of New York) plays a McCroy who factors in as the owner of a large pharmaceutical company.
Moviemakers also recruit Hans Zimmer for a driving music score, Robert Towne to again put his hand into the screenplay, and the incomparable Anthony Hopkins to play Hunt’s IMF superior Mission Commander Swanbeck. This movie retains some credibility as a cohesive work, but mostly functions as a full throttle entertainment package complete with appealing stars, surprises, and amazing action sequences. Rade Serbedzija (The Saint, Mighty Joe Young) also provides some credibility as Dr. Nekhorvich.
Woo splashes the screen with symbolic action. One notable logistical problem occurs in an interior shootout when Hunt takes a single shot at a bad guy that misses to the left, yet somehow the shot manages to strike the man down. Audiences also get another rooftop sequence where Hunt must again sneak his way into a highly secured building.
A professional thief Nyah basically functions as a love interest who fuels the vengeful rage already established between Hunt and Ambrose. Nyah makes a crucial decision near the middle of the movie which adds a new twist in the plot, but then doesn’t get much to do for the rest of the time except look pretty.
In one sequence, Woo does some particularly great camerawork when as he orients the audience to a complex that sets the stage for the final conflict in the movie. Woo uses numerous slow motion shots to heighten the action and romance in this movie, which comes recommended with reservations (**1/2 out of four stars) from this reviewer. Rated PG-13 for violence and some sensuality.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler