Mind-numbing action! Director John Woo offers so much that you don't care if 'M:I 2' has obvious weaknesses
Beautiful scenery, action, great acting, action, weak story, action, pulsing soundtrack and more action. Oh, did I mention the action?
Mission: Impossible II, produced by Tom Cruise with partner Paula Wagner and directed by action maven John Woo (Face/Off, Broken Arrow), this sequel has more action and beauty than its parent movie.
Wide, sweeping vistas of southeastern Utah provide background for one nail-biting shot after another as Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) climbs a rock wall (in Dead Horse Point State Park) on vacation. Of course, his time is cut short thanks to an assignment that sends Hunt to Spain.
Here Hunt must recruit the ex-girlfriend, Nyah Hall, (Thandie Newton) of a new nemesis, Sean Ambrose: ex-agent-turned-biological-terrorist (Dougray Scott). Hunt falls in love with her as she tries to run him off a cliff in a game of cat and mouse and in the next scene wakes up next to her in bed. That was quick.
She, a world-class thief, thinks she'll be helping him steal something, but balks when Hunt tells her she is there to slip him information about Ambrose's evil plans. Eventually, assured of Hunt's love, she agrees.
Hunt recruits Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) as his computer expert, and Billy Baird (John Polson) as his helicopter pilot. Neither of these characters is well developed, as with the rest of the cast, but the audience gasps as a planted bomb appears under Stickell's truck whether they have any reason to fear for his life or not.
Nothing goes according to plan in this rollercoaster ride of action and thrills for the grinning, charming Hunt. Each plan is foiled somehow by the evil Ambrose who just keeps spoiling the day until the end where it's not enough simply to do away with Ambrose in one shot. Hunt is like the mouse who insists on playing with its half-dead prey rather than just killing it, which could hurt him more than he thought.
Why is it characters always walk away from their kill without first checking for a pulse?
Cruise is said to have performed 95 percent of his own stunts in the film, from jumping from one rock face to another (seven times to get it right without nets or ropes) to drop-kicking Scott, and it's hard to believe he didn't suffer at least one or 50 broken bones. Scott, not to be outdone by Cruise, also attempted many of his own stunts. He nearly broke his neck falling off a motorcycle and rested for over a month before he could continue shooting.
The choreography of hand-to-hand fight scenes was amazing. If blood hadn't spilled, dripped and oozed, one would think he was watching some sort of dance. In the end, much as Cruise is reported to prefer not working with guns, it is the firearm he dishes out of the sand with his boot that saves the day.
The ending, as predictable as the pouring speed of molasses in December, is not without its action and thrills and leaves the audience feeling satisfied.
While plot points left unexplained created confusion for the audience (when did he become the head of security at a home in Spain?), the non-stop action and thrills left nothing to be desired. No brains are required to follow the plot in this sequel as opposed to the original, but that doesn't matter.
The speed of the movie, the rhythm of the music and the intensity of the action creates a mind-numbing, hand-into-popcorn-plunging, eye-popping spectacle of Tom Cruise et al leaves the viewer breathing a sigh of relief as the credits roll.
Good summer fun. That's what it's all about.