Mission Impossible 2

James Bond eat your heart out. Mission Impossible 2 is everything that The World is Not Enough tried to be. Lots of explosions, amazing stunts, sexy women, and an easy to follow story. The story is especially easy to follow after all the flack the first Mission Impossible movie received. This time around, director John Woo leaves his own unique mark upon the movie, in effect taking it away from star Tom Cruise. However flashy, Mission Impossible 2 only delivers partially.

Although the original Mission Impossible's story confused the heck out of audiences, it was not that hard to follow. Robert Towne's story is basic. Bad guys stole Chimera, a deadly virus. Good guys must stop bad guys. Granted, it is a little more complex than that, but at times Towne has the character narrate their actions to the audience (for the slower people). Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott, Deep Impact, Ever After), a former associate of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise, Eyes Wide Shut, Magnolia) turned evil, stole what he thought was the virus. It turns out to be the cure, and now Hunt and Ambrose are in a race to find the last remaining samples of Chimera. Hunt wants to destroy it, and Ambrose wants to sell it to the highest bidder. Hunt's boss (an uncredited Anthony Hopkins, Titus, Instinct) tells him to enlist Nyah Hall (Thandie Newton, Besieged, Beloved), a civilian, to help him. Hunt falls for Hall, who turns out to be Ambrose's ex-girlfriend. Aside from a couple unexpected red herrings, most of the twists are predictable, and the outcome is inevitable.

Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames, Entrapment, Out of Sight) is also back, but he does no more than sit in front of a computer. Newton's Hall is so aloof and distant that she seems almost inhuman. Cruise is playing the suave, slick role he usually plays, and he has it down to a tee. However, Cruise and Newton have little on-screen chemistry together, making their scenes dull. Scott plays the standard maniacal evildoer bent on taking over the world.

John Woo's (Broken Arrow, Face/Off) involvement elevates Mission Impossible 2 to a higher level. Woo's mastery of the use of the elegance of violence transforms the movie into a visual ballet of brutality. Mission Impossible 2 hearkens back to some of Woo's better (i.e. more violent) collaborations in Hong Kong with Chow Yun-Fat. All of his stock trademarks are present. Combatants fly through the air holding two guns while the wind whips through their hair. Pigeons coo and flap their wings amidst violence, and Woo frequently slows down the action scenes to display the stunts in all their glory. Cruise's antics on a mountain wall and the motorcycle chase and ensuing showdown that close the movie are dazzling displays of Woo's ability as an action director. Mission Impossible 2 is a good example of style over substance, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Here, the action sequences cover its other plot-related shortcomings.

Haro Rates It: Not Bad.
2 hours, 5 minutes, Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violent action and some sensuality.

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