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John Woo makes episode two
of the "Mission" series a thriller
Tom Cruise

"Mission Impossible 2"

Reviewed by Carlos deVillalvilla

(Click on the images to see larger version)

John Woo (and Tom Cruise)It sounds like an unbeatable combo: Tom Cruise, whose revival of the revered television franchise was a hit; terrific gadgets; and John Woo, who with apologies to Jan de Bont, Michael Bay and John McTiernan, is the best action director on the planet. Should you decide to accept it? Heck, yeah!

The plot is a bit of a lulu. Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt, who is evidently back in the IMF after the recent unpleasantness, is called upon to recruit a beautiful thief (Thandie Newton) after Chimera (a creation of an ex-Soviet molecular biologist) is ripped off by a renegade IMF agent (Dougray Scott) who, as it happens, has a previous relationship with the thief and a grudge against Hunt.

Dougray ScottSimple enough. However, this isn't Mission Simple, it's Mission Impossible. Ambrose, the renegade agent, is at least nearly as competent as Hunt and he has no compunction about using deadly force as does Hunt. Woo stages some incredible action scenes, beginning with a mountain-climbing scene and building to a climactic motorcycle chase and fight.

Few directors are able to capture the poetry of movement as well as Woo, and the action scenes reflect that aesthetic. They are marvelously staged and worth every penny of the admission price.

Thandie NewtonNow, the down side. Much less energy is put into the non-action scenes, and therefore some of the expository scenes drag. Hunt falls in love with the thief too quickly and for no apparent reason other than to make a plot complication the audience could do without. The writers also rely too much on the hoary plot device of disguising the actors as other actors. It seems like every ten minutes, someone is pulling off latex to reveal Hunt's face or Ambrose's face. Yes, we get that not everything is as it seems, guys. This is just pure laziness on the writers' part, a device meant to move the plot along without really putting too much thought into it.

Cruise is surrounded by a capable cast, which is a good thing because he spends most of the movie trying to be emotionless (which translates onscreen as "wooden"). Scott makes a first-rate villain and combined with his recent performance in the "Arabian Nights" miniseries, seems poised for stardom himself. Newton is lustrous as the bad girl gone good; Ving Rhames returns from the first movie, but outside of one scene is given little to do beyond monitoring the computer and warning Hunt to be careful. Anthony Hopkins has a cameo as the ascerbic head of the IMF; we could have done with more of him and less of the latex.

Ving RhamesStill, given all the faults of the movie, it's still a satisfying summer action thriller, full of great stunts, terrific gadgets and things that go boom. What better way to beat the summer heat than a cool, air-conditioned movie theater and a big, loud movie that doesn't make you think too much to blast your senses for two hours?

Theater or Video?
Big booms, big screen. Theater all the way.
DVD at
VHS at

See cast, credit and other details about "Mission Impossible 2" at Internet Movie Data Base.