Mission: Impossible II

Bottom Line: A film for those who think hair product commercials should have action.

Directed by: John Woo
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Dominic Purcell, Dougray Scott, John Polson, Rade Sherbedgia, Richard Roxburgh, Thandie Newton, Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, William Mapother

I once read a book entitled Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field, which, as you may gather from the title, is a thorough run-through of how to write a sturdy screenplay. In one chapter of the book, Mr. Field explains that scripting a sequel is a way of adapting the original work. Just as when adapting a book, rebooting a television series, remaking another film, etc., however, enough information must be given so that an audience who has not seen the original work–or has forgotten about it–understands the characters and what is happening. It was almost a year ago that I saw the original MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE and over six months since I saw the most recent installment into the series. I do remember what they were like, luckily. Had I not seen and remembered those exhilarating pictures, I would be suffering from not knowing what not knowing what was happening (I’m still looking for the plot that appeared in this film), and I would have much different expectations of the rest of the series. Or I would just have no earthly desire to watch any more of the series.

As surprising as it may be, I wasn’t kidding in my “bottom line”. Sometimes I feel curious about what notes a film’s crew takes and what ideas they have during the pre-production stage. I felt like I was reading the minds of the crew members–well, the cosmetics portion of them–as I watched. “Oh, Mr. Cruise, you are such a beautiful man! How about about we take you to that salon and let you flaunt all that beauty you got?” (?) “Thandie Newton–oh, look at you! You really need some makeup on that gorgeous face of yours!” (?) “Hey writer! Add some romance into this film! It’ll complement their beauty!” (?) “Cinematographer! Occasional slow shots, brighten it up a bit…just make it look sexy all right?” (?) Whether or not these were the orders of that section of the crew, the film turned out as a bright, flashy film that showcased beauty and romance rather than fight and action. It switches off between channeling a fashion show and channeling a 1980s Vidal Sassoon commercial. There was a good amount of action, especially in the final half hour. It’s hard to focus on it, though, when we’ve already spent over an hour and a half of the film focusing on the sunny eye candy.

M:I:II isn’t a total disaster. The film occasionally managed to entertain, despite blah delivery from the main cast. I also enjoyed the new take on the classic theme. Lalo Schifrin first composed the opening musical piece back in 1966, and it has been rendered by quite a few artists. I’ll hesitantly express that I find adequate–but, like the film, dumb–fun in listening to the work of nu metal group Limp Bizkit, so their take on that golden track was genuinely impressive, in a bit of a bizarre way. Again, the film isn’t quite as great as it deserves to be. It’s a huge qualitative demolition in comparison to the exciting first entry. Though M:I:II barely does so, it falls under the weight of the term “dumb fun”. In fact, it’s barely even fun.

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6 thoughts on “Mission: Impossible II

  1. John Woo’s one of my least favorite directors, and I disliked this one almost as much as you did. For the first two films, I had no idea what the plots were. The third and fourth installments are much better. Good review.

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