Saturday, February 22, 2014
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2
(May 2000, U.S.)
One of these days, one of or many of my readers are going to stand up and call me for being the occasional movie hypocrite that I clearly am! What am I talking about? You've read countless times how I'm constantly slamming remakes and sequels and Hollywood's inability to avoid recycling their movie material over and over and over again. And yet with all of my verbal convictions, every once in a while I come up with something that completely goes against such convictions. Well, I'm about to do it again, people, because John Woo's sequel of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2, in my opinion, not only completely outdoes Brian DePalma's original 1996 film, but is also one of the greatest action films I've ever seen in my life. If fact, I proudly label it as my second favorite action film of all time (the first one comes much later)!
And so, with this second installment in the franchise, it's very safe to say that Tom Cruise and his character of IMF agent Ethan Hunt grows up a little. His hair is longer, his fashion is darker, his demeanor is more serious and his action is a lot more kick-ass! John Woo takes the story element to a much darker level, as well. The stakes are at their worst when a new deadly virus known as Chimera is developed in Sydney, Australia as well as its cure known as Bellerophon. With such new deadly evils in the world, there's also the evil terrorist who'll stop at nothing to own its secrets, its powers and its global financial potentials. The plot is definitely more involved and more intricate, but it can hardly be accused of being totally original. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 clearly borrows elements from Alfred Hitchcock that include TO CATCH A THIEF (1955) and particularly NOTORIOUS (1946) in which a young woman (a thief!) Nyah Nordoff-Hall (played by Thandie Newton) must infiltrate her way back into her ex-lover's life, that man being our movie's villain, rogue IMF agent Sean Ambrose (played by Dougray Scott) in order to gain secrets in the name of global justice and her love for Ethan Hunt, who's recruited her for this mission. From then on, the film is almost fully dedicated to the the action styles of James Bond, particularly GOLDENEYE (1995), in which two former partners of good are now deadly adversaries. I have to also point out that this sequel, as well as the two that would follow it (two films I didn't care for, either!), also treats us to the impossible mission of penetrating another heavily-guarded superstructure from the air, and unlike the cable suspension suspense of the first film, this raid from the top moves faster and makes your heart jump just as Ethan gets through the roof of the building just as the air conditioning vents open in time.
Where as DePalma's style for the first film was more subdued, John Woo's style is pure, unrefined, undisturbed, in-your-face, kick-ass action filled with sound, fury and movement that grabs you by the balls and doesn't let go. If for no other reason, the climactic sequence on motorcycles is about as explosive as such a sequence can get. Honestly, I don't believe Hollywood should ever do another motorcycle action film again, because this film nails it to the bone and there's no room for improvement! Just picture in your mind, for a moment, what you've likely memorized in your head from watching this film; picture the hero who must save the world, dressed in black, wearing dark sunglasses behind a face of deadly force, riding for his life on a motorcycle while fleeing a massive explosion. THIS, in my opinion, is one of the greatest motion picture depictions of the classic hero in action that I'm ever likely to see...
Seriously, do I lie??
Okay, now you're heard me shameless confess before of my pathetic weakness for many Tom Cruise films. I'm about to make it worse by stating that MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 is, without a doubt, my favorite Tom Cruise film! Speaking from a perspective of a completely self-confident heterosexual male, Tom Cruise is at his physical best in this film, where action is key and dramatic performance, perhaps not so much. Don't get me wrong - the performances by everyone in this film are just fine, for an action film, but it's hardly definitive of such a film with a good story. Here, though, Cruise is at his toughest and his most bad-ass character, and he's doing it with long hair, black attire and slow-motion skills with a gun that are just too irresistible to ignore! Yes, it's safe to say that were I a much younger man who still fantasized about actually becoming just like his motion picture or television heroes, I would definitely want to be the character of Ethan Hunt in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2! I'd say that comes a long, long way from the kid of the 1970s who originally wanted to be Col. Steve Austin (that's THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN for those who don't know!) and Han Solo!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Ethan Hunt: "You made it sound as if I was recruiting her for her skills as a thief."
Mission Commander Swanbeck: "Well then I misled you, or you made the wrong assumption. Either way, we are asking her to resume her prior relationship - not do anything she hasn't already done...voluntarily, I might add."
Ethan: "No. She's got no training for this kind of thing."
Swanbeck: "What? To go to bed with a man and lie to him? She's a woman - she's got all the training she needs."
Ethan: "I don't think I can get her to do it."
Swanbeck: "You mean it'll be difficult?"
Swanbeck: "Well, this is not "mission difficult", Mr. Hunt, it's "mission impossible". Difficult should be a walk in the park for you."