Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mission: Impossible II - Review


   Mission: Impossible II is the second movie in the Mission: Impossible franchise. The action is certainly stepped up from the first; resulting in over the top set pieces as only John Woo could produce. Mission: Impossible II is still a fun action film but a rather weak entry in the series.
   Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) is an IMF agent, who goes rogue and plans to release ‘Chimera’, a bioweapon, in Sydney. The only agent Mission Commander Swanbeck (Anthony Hopkins) can trust to stop the rogue agent is Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise). The only requirement for Hunt is that he includes the master thief, Nyah (Thandie Newton), as part of his team.  Filling out the rest of the team is ace helicopter pilot Billy Baird (John Polson) and returning member Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames).
   Unlike the first film, this entry sees the team members demoted to the sidelines. Billy becomes a chauffer, there for Hunt’s transportation needs, and Stickell is stuck behind a laptop and loses his humor. The lack of support forces Ethan Hunt to finally pick up that gun he lacked from the first film, becoming almost superhuman when it comes to combat. Because of his effectiveness, it makes the team feel even less important, taking away a key aspect of Mission: Impossible.
   Cruise is still clearly settling is his position as a blockbuster action megastar. While the first film really showed what he could do, MI2 begins to become more of big action shoot ‘em up akin to the 80s. Tom Cruise does fine in the role, but definitely not the best portrayal of Ethan Hunt. The character is completely changed from the first, to go from a very focused agent to a 'James Bond' type playboy agent. 
   The writing by Robert Towne isn’t terrible but becomes so heavily focused on Ethan Hunt, the rest of the team suffers. The script also relies on the facial mask gimmick so much that it becomes insufferable by the time the credits roll.
   John Woo saves the film with his use of slo-mo shootouts and over the top sequences to bring forward some fun to the runtime. At times the film is overstylized and almost too cool for it's own good but it’s easy to turn a blind eye to the films issues when Woo has Cruise performing stunts like dangling from a ventilation shaft, racing along in a high octane motorcycle chase, and dodging bullets left and right. The stunts in this film are still pretty stunning when taken into consideration how many are actually happening and not just done on a computer. For example, that knife in the final fight sequence is completely real and inches away from Cruise's eye. Proving once and for all that Tom Cruise might just be a little crazy. 

   Overall, some of the action sequences are a tad ridiculous and slow motion becomes a tool that’s excessively overused. Despite its flaws, Mission: Impossible II is still a fun action film, even if it doesn’t stand up to the first. (6.5/10)