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Tom Cruise
Dougray Scott
Thandie Newton
Ving Rhames
William R. Mapother
Anthony Hopkins

John Woo



Time: 123 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Action/Romance/Spy Thriller

I don't know why I thought I would like this movie. I'm not a fan of either its' star or director. Cruise is not a true actor, choosing roles he can easily master without doing a bit of stretching and Woo is a brilliant visual stylist of the action sequence, but a horrible storyteller. However, it is summer and I did want a bit of fluff entertainment, so I decided to take a chance. I should have known better. I guess since everyone complained that the first film was too confusing – you had to pay attention, but it wasn't nuclear physics – they decided to do away with a plot and character development altogether and just give the audience what it apparently wanted the first time: long, drawn-out, action sequences with things exploding in ways that defy gravity.

Lest you think I'm too highbrow, I was looking forward to the action stuff as much as the next guy. However, all the cool stuff was showcased in the trailer so there wasn't much new and cool to see. I know trailers are used to entice the movie-going audience to plop down serious money ($9 in LA), but I felt gipped when I had to sit through all the boring parts to see the same stunts I'd already grown tired of from the trailer. Yes, you get to see the whole sequence, but who cares? They went on for what seemed like an eternity, causing me to occasionally wonder what started the chase to begin with. Maybe if they played the film at normal speed instead of in slow motion it wouldn't have seemed so horrible. At least it would have been a good half hour shorter. I'm all for utilizing the medium to showcase new technology and to break filmmaking barriers, however, if you're a Woo fan you've already seen this stuff a million times before. Yes, this time it's Tom Cruise, but that's not enough of a plus in my book.

In fact, he relies more on his pretty good looks in this film than ever. I thought after his amazing performance in MAGNOLIA that Cruise would continue to look for parts that expanded his range...or at least demand that he have some personality. You learn nothing new or interesting about Ethan Hunt in this go around, except that he's still instantly irrisistable to women and he has a pretty consistent M.O. when it comes to breaking into places. What passes itself off as character development is his deep love for Nyah, a professional thief played by Thandie Newton. They have a five minute conversation in a bathtub, which I have to admit was pretty sexy, practically kill each other in a car chase, have hot, meaningless sex and I'm supposed to believe they are now willing to die for each other? She is completely, devastatingly beautiful in this film and most woman would die to be with him, but come on. Have you ever met anyone who you would die for a mere 24 hours later? (Your kids excluded.)

The film hinges on this argument and it's one of the many reasons it just doesn't work. Yes, they have chemistry. Yes, they're both extremely attractive. But just how different can she be than the hundreds of other beautiful women Hunt must have been with in his lucrative spy years? Newton does a great job with what she's given, but that's not saying much. She's pretty much reduced to being the object of desire Hunt and the film's villain Ambrose fight over. She looks luminous and has a fantastic body, which I guess is enough to instill love in super spies these days. She's given a modicum of intelligence, she's just not really allowed to do anything with it. Her hair does swirl around her face marvelously though. Certainly that's something. The bad guys were pretty much by the book. Dougray Scott really tried to be evil and vicious and seemed quite broken up when he learned that Nyah didn't love him anymore, but that's not exactly the most engaging reason for wanting to destroy the world.

"Mr. Hunt, this isn't mission difficult, it's mission impossible. "Difficult" should be a walk in the park for you."

The plot centers around a killer virus (blah) stolen in order to gain stock options (blah, blah, blah). Not a great way to become a billionaire in the shadow of today's plunging market. If these guys were smart, they'd take the cash. Hunt's job is to recover both the virus and the antidote from Ambrose before he sells it to the highest bidder or unleases it on the world. Not exactly inventive stuff. The tech gadgets are fairly cool, but beyond believable and sometimes bordering on the ridiculous. They use the mask thing a lot more in this movie, which adds a little mystery to the proceedings, but also brings up more questions about the film's validity. How do they get these masks? How do you know who you need to be? Though they're pretty cool, they make points in the story even more unbelievable. Both Woo and Cruise said they wanted to make the sequel completely different from the original. Instead of being confusing and boring with great action sequences, they've made a movie that's stupid and boring with great action sequences. Not a great leap in my opinion. If you're a fan of either Woo or Cruise you'll probably loooovvveee this movie. For the rest of you, either wait for a chance to see it for free or go to a matinee. It may be the first blockbuster of the summer, but it's definitely not the best one for your money.

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