THE CRITIC DOCTOR EXAMINES: Owen Gleiberman (Entertainment Weekly), Stephen Hunter (Washington Post), Jon Popick (Planet Sick-Boy), Glenn Whipp (Los Angeles Daily News), Dave McCoy (reel.com), A.O. Scott (New York Times), Jay Boyar (Orlando Sentinel), Michæl Elliott (crosswalk.com), Robert W. Butler (Kansas City Star), James Berardinelli (Reel Views) and Susan Granger (susangranger.com).
* * *out of 4 (PG-13)
Driving up to the movie theater, I couldn’t help but notice the horde of people waiting to see “Mission:Impossible 2.” I thought it was going to be “admission impossible” for my wife and I to land a ticket, popcorn and a good seat, but we did. I was eager to see this film after watching the movie trailer and reading a review in “Entertainment Weekly” by Owen Gleiberman. Did the movie live up to Gleiberman’s B+ rating?
Indeed! Gleiberman writes, “The movie is speedy yet languorous, like a James Bond thriller fashioned with Steven Spielberg’s gliding camera moves. It’s eye candy that detonates.”
This eye candy is like pop candy on steroids! The spectacular action will be the number one reason people like this film. This lethal eye candy is motored by action scenes involving motorcycles, automobiles, helicopters, a commercial airline jet and speed boats. We also get to watch Tom Cruise dangle from a mountain 2000 feet above ground; and he dives out of a helicopter like a human yo yo through an atrium atop a skyscraper. Ah, yes – and the movie is packed with slow-motion ninja style fight scenes and lots of flying bullets We can thank director John Woo (Face/Off ) for all of the above.
Stephen Hunter (Washington Post) said, “It’s straight from the hyperfervid brain of the Hong Kong director who has reinvented the action film…boy can he make a motion picture!” This brilliant action film did come from the brain of John Woo, but some critics ask us to leave our brains behind before entering the theater.
Jon Popick (Planet Sick-Boy) said, “It’s still entertaining and fun, in a check-your-brain-at-the-box-office kind of way.” Glenn Whipp (Los Angeles Daily News) adds, “Brains will be checked at the door; a good time will be had by some.”
Obviously they are referring to the plot. But in order to understand the plot, one has to keep-brain-in-head. Even Whipp said, “If anything, this ‘Mission’ is more confusing than the last, so you might want to make sure you bring your plot decoders with you to the theater.” Oh, I get it! Leave your brain at the door, but bring in the plot decoder. Silly me. I think Whipp, and critics with a similar view, did check their brain in at the door – and forgot it when leaving!
Dave McCoy (reel.com) complains, “Had Woo ignored the plot and filled the film with his trademark gunplay – two-fisted shoot-outs, huge body counts, high-octane chase scenes – he might’ve saved the project.”
For the love of God, Dave! How much more action do we need in this film? You’re talk’n overkill. Woo didn’t set out to wound the audience.
A.O. Scott (New York Times) observes, “If Mr. Cruise peeled off his face and turned out to have been Chow Yun Fat all along, the picture might be saved.” I don’t think the film needs any saving, but Scott’s idea is brilliant and really would have worked! What a funny, surprise ending it would have been.
The fact is, the plot worked. Jay Boyar (Orlando Sentinel) got it right: “‘In Mission: Impossible 2,’ the plot is just complicated enough to be intriguing without becoming so byzantine that you’ll be scratching your head.” Essentially, superagent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is at war with Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) to stop him from spreading a biological virus that would allow him to profit off the antidote he controls. The two are also in love with Nyah Hall (Thandie Newton), an ex-gilrfriend of Ambrose, who is sent in to spy on Ambrose and his cohorts. Naturally, things get sticky and the movie explodes with suspense and action – which, again, is why people will like this film.
I especially liked how they incorporated the use of a plot device – a pull off face mask and voice manipulator that would fool your own mother into thinking you were someone else. I won’t reveal how it is used, but I will say this film blows away any recent James Bond movie. Many critics agree, too.
* Owen Gleiberman (Entertainment Weekly): “M:I-2 has what the Bond films have long lost: the ability to surprise.”
* Jon Popick (Planet Sick-Boy): “…better than the last couple James Bond flicks.”
* Michæl Elliott (crosswalk.com): “Instead of being simply derivative, M:I2 out-Bonds 007’s now tired series at every turn.”
James Berardinelli (Reel Views) offers a solution: “And someone at MGM should look seriously at hiring Woo to helm the next James Bond movie. Imagine what this director could do for that franchise.”
I have a suggestion, too. Bring back Sean Connery as James Bond. Some say he is too old, but he is not. He has style and his performance/chemistry in “Entrapment,” with Catherine Zetta-Jones, was proof of his ability to still get the beautiful woman – and to play a mysterious action character masterfully. Bringing back one of the original Bond men (Connery being the best one of all) would be hot! If this mission was seriously pursued, it could be possible.
“Mission: Impossible-2” was a worthwhile movie, a three-star summer flick. Robert W. Butler (Kansas City Star) said, “It’s good, empty fun.” But Susan Granger (susangranger.com) summed the movie up best: “It’s a sleek, stylistic adventure thriller, a fun-filled popcorn picture that will not self-destruct.”
If you don’t like this movie, chances are – you checked your brain in at the door.