M:I-2 is written by running enthusiast and legendary screenwriter Robert Towne. Bob’s real impossible mission was to write a movie with no track and field scenes, and damn if he didn’t do it.
Here’s the story: Former distance runner Tom Cruise is assigned by one-time track coach Tony Hopkins to nab an evil virus before former relay runner and turncoat agent Dougray Scott releases the virus, achieves his personal best, profits off the cure, buys Nike, and snares a lifetime supply of marathon merchandise. Will Tom stop him in time, or will all those slow-motion doves get in the way?
The virus, you see, was developed by an Australian pharmaceutical firm, making this the most virulent bug from down under since Olivia Newton John.
Although the first Mission Impossible was impossibly complex, this flick couldn’t be simpler. That’s because every character explains the plot at least twice. For every action scene, there’s a scene with a PowerPoint slide outlining what you just saw. Tom: “We don’t know what we’ve got, we don’t know what he’s got, we don’t know how he got it or what he’s doing in Sydney with it.” Okay, next slide, please.
Give it up for Thandie Newton. That chick’s a major cutie. Thandie’s a crack jewel thief and Tom has family jewels, so it’s a match made in gem heaven.
“If you want me, you’d better catch me,” teases Thandie. Evidently, that’s the best line Towne could come up with and still make his racquetball game. This invitation leads to some death-defying reckless driving. And as every guy knows, nothing gets the girl into bed faster than driving while intoxicated by love, baby.
Tom injects a chip into Thandie’s ankle tattoo to track her by satellite just like the producers of Everybody Loves Raymond will now have to do with their Emmy screening cassettes. Tattoos and chips are the best you can do with no salsa.
Ving Rhames returns as the team’s computer genius whose equipment breaks down so often in time of need, it must be powered by dilithium crystals!
Also along for the ride is Tom’s Aussie henchman with an absolutely impenetrable accent. His job is to dress as a doorman, peek through binoculars, and radio Tom: “Ya got a while to pee.” “Did you say ‘ you’re Crocodile Dundee?’” replies Tom.
With M:I-2, Tom enters the realm of the walking Woo-nded. If you ever pondered what Goldeneye would look like if John Woo directed it, then look no further. People are gonna be mad at me for saying this, but these action scenes are so Woo they’re cliché. As usual, there’s gobs of visual artistry here and enough slo-mo spinning to churn butter. So compelling was the slo-mo, in fact, it was immediately adopted by the employees behind the concession counter!
One of the key elements of Mission: Impossible is the disguise. Lots of Tom Cruise masks are used in this film – all of which are more lifelike than the one Tom wore in Eyes Wide Shut.
Who says stars are wussies? Tom does his own stunts in this movie, unlike Eyes Wide, where all the stunts were done by Nicole Kidman’s t-shirt. Tom hangs off that rock the way bits of bagel cling to that 20 million dollar smile. No obvious stunt doubles here, folks. Definitely not like Buffy the Vampire Slayer where Buffy morphs into The Incredible Buffy Hulk whenever furious fists fricassee frightful fanged fiends.
Try saying that fast.
M:I-2 ain’t bad, but it sure isn’t as great as it could have been, even if action-Tom is awesome fun to watch.
I think the M:I-2 promo tie-in folks at Reeses Pieces said it best: “Code word: Savings.”