Mission: Impossible 2 Reviews
Full Review: Mission Impossible 2 is pretty much has the feel of its title - The same as the original, but with a 'been there done that' feel. It has great action from start to finish (albeit over the top sometimes), but has a simple, generic plot. The romance we expected is nothing more than a couple good looking people saying bad dialogue to each other. However, its grand action sequences undoubtedly give escapism from the mediocre script.
As with the first movie if it would not have been labelled Mission Impossible I would probably have given it a higher rating since it is a decent enough, mostly braindead though, Hollywood action movie. However, I have higher expectations from a movie labelled Mission Impossible.
Tom Cruise is quite okay as Ethan Hunt. Dougray Scott is okayish as the bad guy. Sometimes he projects the right big bad and mad bad-guy attitude but sometimes he is just silly and just as over the top as the action scenes. He is supposed to be a mastermind but he comes out as a thug a' la a not so intelligent drug baron in many scenes.
The action scenes? Well, they are classical John Woo material. Fast paced with a lot of stunts and things that go boom. They are also, as expected, hugely over the top and unbelievable. They provide a enjoyable visual experience but, as I wrote above, they are not really what I would expect from a Mission Impossible movie.
The romance between Hunt and Nyah is the typical Hollywood, let's throw in a sexy girl and some superficial attraction, which develops from get lost to I love you in the matter of a few hours of contact, between the lead character and the girl. Meh!
I get the impression that the people that have created these movies so far have not really watched a single full season of Mission Impossible.
The plot in Mission: Impossible II is its most major fault. Instead of adhering to the spy thriller nature of the source material, Mission: Impossible II instead focuses on being a more commercially viable conventional action film. This is what John Woo is good at so it has its moments, but the narrative is certainly poor. If the film were a spy thriller then there would be more interesting things to occur during the scenes bereft of action thrills, but as Mission: Impossible II instead attempts to play it safe with uninspired dialogue which focuses on context building and generic subplots, there is nothing innovative that comes from the characters. This basically means that any time the film is not full of action, it is rather boring. And as it turns out, very little of the film is full of it. Despite Mission: Impossible II being critically acclaimed for its action, it's composition in the narrative is insufficient. For a two hour John Woo film, Mission: Impossible II has a distinct shortage of action scenes. The first major action scene in the film is a small-scaled car chase beaten the film's protagonist which occurs mainly for comic relief and as part of playing with the romantic themes of the film. The additional element of a romantic subplot is a distracting convention which reinforces the generic nature of the plot while adding nothing of story appeal, merely boring the experience even more. This means that the film only has the potential to be half-decent at best.
The soundtrack is one of the few action movie conventions which deviates from the spy thriller mood of the film yet remains actively positive. Using the iconic theme song of the series with a more metal spin on it, the theme to Mission: Impossible II is a pretty awesome touch. It's one of many awesome pieces used in the film, and a sign of the production values which later redeem much of the experience.
Mission: Impossible II features John Woo as director. Replacing Brian De Palma who has proven a better visual stylist working in crime based films, John Woo is an internationally critically acclaimed creator of action films. And as he proved with Hard Target, and the anymore progressively expensive American productions he's worked on in the following years, he's up to catering to an American market with a large budget. The central problem I found with Mission: Impossible was that the action was both short in quality and quantity, eliminating any sense of practical value that the film could offer. Quantity remains an issue in Mission: Impossible II, though not nearly as much as its predecessor. But there is still a fair improvement, and the quality of it all is a lot better despite the lack of high-tech gadgets. John Woo fills Mission: Impossible II with shootouts, martial arts-inspired fights and motorbike chases during the second half of the film while using his iconic blend of quick cuts and slow motion to capture enhanced chorography. The sped-up pace of the second half make it an action-fuelled thrill ride, and though there is still not precisely enough to compensate for the lacklustre first act or to even completely fill the second, there remains some quality choreography captured to fuel fans of John Woo's distinctive style of action.
The cast also make an improvement over Mission: Impossible, partially because the script is less convoluted this time around even if it is still rather thin.
Ethan Hunt was a very generic character in Mission: Impossible, but it's interesting what happens to him in Mission: Impossible II. As the mood of the films change, Ethan Hunt becomes reduced to a very conventional action movie archetype. He is a confident and athletic agent with a flair for charming romance. And despite the generic nature of the writing that characterizes him, this archetype is significantly more suited to Tom Cruise's abilities. Tom Cruise works the stereotypical nature of the character into his performance and lets his instincts take over, allowing him to make the character his own. This means that he captures the sophisticated charm of the character in understanding everything about the story and being a romantic, but more importantly he puts a strongly determined edge into the role. His energy is excellent because he is clearly very passionate about the action in the film, grasping his weapons with intense confidence and using impressive fight skills to power through the scenes. John Woo proves to bring out the best in him so Tom Cruise's natural energy proves to be a viable asset to Mission: Impossible II, and during the intensely dramatic scenes where he has to be very emotionally involved, Tom Cruise remains remarkably intense. Tom Cruise really steps up his game for Mission Impossible II and works the material to form a strong star vehicle for himself.
Thandie Newton exists primarily to adhere to multiple archetypes of female characters in action films as Nyah Nordoff-Hall is a character who is capable of her own achievements yet still needs Ethan Hunt to rescue her and be her lover. In that sense there is not much strength for the character, but I will admit that Thandie Newton has her own charms. The mood of the film occasionally has a sense of humour to it which seems to conflict with the melodramatic nature of her performance at times so she is not always on par, but in spots she is able to stir up a sympathetic character so she has her moments. There just isn't any sense of consistency.
The return of Ving Rhames is welcome, particularly considering that this time around he is given more screen time and stronger dramatic material, proving that he can make something out of it. And I'm yet to see any film where I would consider the presence of Anthony Hopkins useless. Although his role in Mission: Impossible II is extremely brief and uncredited, his distinctive tone of charming voice cannot be disregarded. Brendan Gleeson is also a likable presence.
So Mission Impossible: II has some impressive action scenes in the second half and a powerful leading effort from Tom Cruise, but its improvement over its predecessor only goes so far when the story still comes up short on fidelity to the source material and enough action to sustain everything.