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Thurs., May 25, 2000

Movie Review for Mission: Impossible II

Action! Awesome stunts! Great music! Laughable plot! In a nutshell, that's what you get when you watch this latest from John Woo, Mission: Impossible II.

If you are eager to go see this movie from the trailers, or what you've heard from friends, go for it. It definitely has its solid fans who would love anything from Tom Cruise. But if you're someone who didn't really care from the previews to see the movie in the first place, you're probably better off not even worrying about it.

I was one of those "Man, that looks stupid" kind of people. I wasn't really impressed by what I saw from the previews, especially how they tried to integrate the style of The Matrix into it. They didn't copy the movie in a nutshell. It was just the fact that for one, all of a sudden, Ethan Hunt is doing these nonsensical martial arts moves on the bad guys that makes you say, "Wait a minute! I didn't see him doing any of this in the first movie! Where did he learn it?"

The other matter was the moves he was doing happened to be over and beyond what any other normal person would have done. For example, he was doing all of these jump-flip kicks that seemed totally unnecessary. One involved him beating up one guy, and to finish him off, he did a back flip and landed his leg on the bad guy's chest. Not necessary. And another involved him running towards another bad guy, and then flipping again, kicking the guy twice in the head with his two legs as his body was turning–then landing right on his feet, without any forward momentum! As an action director, I couldn't help but scoff at the majority of the action scenes. That kind of effort was just not warranted.

Which actually stemmed from John Woo and his director's vision. John Woo has been known for staging elaborate action sequences, especially massive chases. Unfortunately, he always goes overboard, not concerning himself with maintaining credibility or reality. He likes to sacrifice reasonability in order to get his character to do all of these unbelievable stunts, and in doing so loses sophisticated audience members like me. I thought Face/Off was pretty far-fetched with the stunts and their credibility, but I didn't know he would go and try suspending my disbelief even further.

If you can get past Woo's obvious disregard for staging believable action sequences and character situations, then let me get on to the plot of the movie. It involves Hunt getting called from vacation to find a civilian and put her to use in seducing a former agent, who has now stolen a virus that is unaffected by penicillin, and is the only possessor of the antidote. With unleashing the virus to the public, he is ready to supply the antidote to the public, which would make him richer through stocks of the issuing pharmaceutical company. Hunt falls in love with the civilian (much too easy, I might add), which makes him reluctant to using her to get the deadly pathogen, and it just all goes downhill from there. The sad thing is that the plot suffers from all of these character events and loses the audience as soon as our hero and the girl start making out in a car dangling over a cliff, as opposed to getting out and reaching safety. As fellow friends Wayne and Garth would say, "Sh-yeah! Right!"

It's too bad for Cruise that he got Woo to direct this movie, and it's too bad that the fine production was wasted on an implausible story. The sacrifices Woo makes in order to tell his story with the style he wants obviously is too much for the audience's taste. Through much of the movie, I found myself saying "Oh look, it's Tom Cruise trying to be James Bond. Oh look, it's Tom Cruise trying to be the Terminator. Oh look, it's Tom Cruise trying to be in The Matrix." I wish I could've been saying "Oh look, that's Ethan Hunt doing what he does best!" Didn't happen.

In short, kids who aren't sophisticated enough to realize that heroes don't have to go through all the trouble Hunt did to accomplish his goal will enjoy this movie, as well as any die-hard Tom Cruise fans who don't care what he's in, or John Woo fans for that matter will all enjoy this movie. But anyone else that has to see this for any other reason, please don't pay more than the matinee price, because the production will barely be worth four and a half bucks.

Gladiator is still the best movie in theaters right now by a long shot.

-Carl Sticht

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