A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Mission Impossible II

February 20, 2011

Mission Impossible 2

For the second Mission Impossible movie Cruise and company managed to get John Woo to direct. This astonished me, since I’m a fan of John Woo, but I’ve never really pictured him making somebody else’s movie. Why would he agree to make a sequel to a Brian De Palma film? The truth is that he doesn’t really. This is every bit a John Woo movie – filled with slow motion gunfights and over-the-top action. It just happens to star Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt and features some of the tricks familiar from the Mission Impossible universe. Indeed it is my favorite John Woo movie since he left China.

Today’s movie finds Ethan Hunt back in the good graces of the IM team. When a Russian geneticist tries to get in touch with him with an urgent plea that has to do with a virus called “Chimera” Ethan is the only one who can track down the rogue agent who has stolen the cure. Along the way he recruits an expert thief named Nyah who has some kind of sordid past with the rogue agent, Sean. In spite of the fact that Nyah and Ethan have fallen into desperate lust with each other Ethan is ordered by his handler (Sir Anthony Hopkins) to use her to get to Sean.

It’s a paper-thin plot which is draped over a bunch of completely silly action scenes. But John Woo has never really been known for deep plots. He’s been known for fantastic shoot-outs, explosions, and guys with deep grudges trying to kill each other. Once all the plot stuff is taken care of and we get into the action this movie delivers exactly what I expect from it. There is a lengthy gunfight in a secure biomed lab. There is a scene where Ethan takes out anonymous henchmen one by one while infiltrating a storage facility to try and steal back the virus and its cure. There’s a car chase where Ethan flees on a motorcycle and every car that dares pursue or block him implausibly explodes. It all culminates in motorcycle jousting and a lenghty martial arts throwdown between Ethan and Sean.

At times it seems like almost a self parody. There are so many trademark John Woo bits thrown in here. Ethan diving for cover while shooting two pistols simultaneously. The gunfight with a million bullets fired. The slow-mo dove that singles the final showdown. It’s as though all the action from The Killer, Hard Boiled, Hard Target, Face/Off and Broken Arrow have been distilled into their basic components for a single film.

This movie also pokes fun at both Mission Impossible tropes and at the first movie to an extent. Sean complains that it is difficult to impersonate Ethan because of his insipid grin (which I found so irritating in yesterday’s movie.) There’s a segment near the middle of the film where Ethan and his band need to extract some information from the head of a pharmaceutical company with which Sean has dealings and so they perform a sting which would have worked perfectly as a part of the classic Mission Impossible television show. I appreciated that. And the tear-away facial disguises used in the first movie are used several times here to great effect.

I really feel that this movie accomplishes everything it sets out to do. I find Tom Cruise much less irritating here than I did in the first movie. I enjoy the silly action and the fun Mission Impossible spy bits. I do wish that they had found more for Thandie Newton to do than be an imperiled damsel in distress because her character seems so self assured and confident at the start of the film, but that would be my only complaint. In general I find that I still enjoy this movie.

February 20, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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