"Mission: Impossible - 2" Review
© 2000 Fontaine L.
- spoilers -

I have the same complaint with M:I-2 (as they insist on us punctuating it that way) as I had with M:I-1. In the TV series, the missions were as much about team work, planning, as they were about execution. In the movies, we have Tom Cruise leaping, dangling, kicking, and shooting his way through his missions. It's not the IMF anymore, it's just Ethan Hunt. And as much as I like Tom Cruise, this is the equivalent of butchering the spirit of "Mission: Impossible." What was obvious in M:I-1 with the total reversal of the character Jim Phelps is even more evident in M:I-2. Ving Rhames' character does even less hacking and even more fretting. And that Aussie bloke was just ... well, there. As much as I liked him. Thandie Newton tried her best, bless her heart, but in the end we were left with a one man show starring Tom Cruise.

I will never accuse Tom Cruise of being narcissistic, but he certainly comes across as being so in this movie. We did not need so many shots of Ethan Hunts muscles (delectable as they were). We did not need so many slow-motion shots. Ethan Hunt and Nyah falling in love was beautiful, but please, the music was overdoing it. During that entire sequence of events I kept thinking: "This is a blatant exploitation of Tom Cruise's sex appeal. Get on with the real mission already!" Speaking of the real mission, can the plot get any more banal? A pharmaceutical company manufacturing a virus and a cure at the same time to make instant fortunes. As if we haven't heard that particular story in countless B-movies before (and trust me, I had a job viewing all these movies). None of the bad guys were particularly exciting. They just growled and acted menacing. One of them cut off someone's pinky to prove this point. Even that scientist was cheesy and wrote a cheesy monologue about heroes and villains. And why the heck did the characters stop in the middle of what they were doing sometimes and stare directly at the camera? Surely that is a no-no. If anything, the good guys were more competent actors than the bad guys. Not that any of them turned in Oscar-caliber performances, but Ving Rhames, Tom Cruise, Anthony Perkins, and Thandie Newton all put in sufficient effort. Thandie Newton's character Nyah was nothing but a weak female character, but Newton's charisma shines through.

This being an action movie, I shouldn't complain too much about characters and plot, yadda yadda. While this one was even messier and less refined than M:I-2, we can thank John Woo for keeping the disaster contained, so to speak. There was less cunning than sheer display of muscle and dynamite, but Woo gave his signature zing to too many scenes (explosions, shootings, fights) that could have easily gone cliched and boring. One thing: that last fight between Hunt and Ambrose went on wayyyyy too long. And referring to my previous rant, too much acrobatics from Tom Cruise. You've established yourself as a kick-ass action hero already. Complaints aside, M:I-2 is entertaining for what it is: a loud, messy, action movie. The Ethan-Nyah romance satisfies romantics and Woo's touch gave the extended action sequences definition and character.

Rating: B- (First viewing, 7/11/00)