Mission: Impossible 2 Review
By Joe Lozito
Slow Motion "Impossible"
If Paramount is trying for a James Bond-esque franchise with the "Mission Impossible" series, then "Mission: Impossible 2" makes it clear that it is not going to happen. At the very least, Bond always had his style - his martinis, his theme song, the Bond girls. The "Mission Impossible" movies so far have a great theme song, but that's about it. The series has no hook. Each of the two MI movies has been its own mess for one reason or another, and any relation to the original series seems purely coincidental. There are gadgets galore, of course. But eventually, writer Robert Towne tires of explaining what the gadgets are supposed to do, they just conveniently appear when needed. The plot itself is as predictable as they come, and the dialogue is nervous-chuckling-in-the-theater bad.
Hong Kong groundbreaker John Woo's (Face/Off) trademark style is in effect - well-placed pigeons, double-fisted gunplay and, when all else fails (and it does) lots and lots of slow motion. It's possible that Mr. Woo's signature style has become old hat by now and that it verges on being a parody of itself. The longing glances between superspy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his femme fatale (Thandie Newton) have been overdone to such an extent that they now leave the audience craving the next action scene. And, surprisingly, there aren't many of them. With the exception of an exciting, climactic motorcycle chase, all the action in the film feels flat, particularly the would-be martial arts fights which borrow as much from Captain Kirk as they do from "The Matrix".
It's no wonder that Mr. Cruise chose this film to produce. He looks great in it. But, where the first "Mission: Impossible" at least had its twisting plot and some fun characters, MI2 only has Mr. Cruise. And even he isn't up to the challenge of carrying it. Mr. Cruise and Ms. Newton generate zero chemistry, which is a problem since the main source of tension in the plot (aside from some Hollywood uber-virus that > threatens to destroy Sydney) is supposed to come from their relationship. Instead, they seem to be going through the (sometimes very slow) motions. Even Ving Rhames is criminally wasted reprising the role of ultra-cool computer nerd Luther. With all this having been done before, making MI2 interesting or suspenseful truly is an impossible mission.