Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Movie Review - Mission: Impossible II

-- Mission: Impossible Week --
Please note that all Mission: Impossible Week film reviews may contain spoilers related to both the film that is being reviewed and other films in the series.

Mission: Impossible II (2000)
Starring Tom Cruise, Dougray Scott, Thandie Newton, Ving Rhames, Richard Roxburgh, Brendan Gleeson, and Anthony Hopkins
Directed by John Woo
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

Quite frankly, the fact that Mission: Impossible II is the highest-grossing film domestically in the M:I series shows that Americans have no taste whatsoever because this is without a doubt one of the worst action movies crafted for the big screen...ever.  We're talking Transformers series levels of bad here.  Like its predecessor, there's stylized direction on display here.  Unfortunately, John Woo's weird aesthetic overtakes the story and fails to add anything, instead creating an atmosphere that's laughable with horrible visuals, dialog, and acting.

M:I II goes in a completely different direction from its predecessor which felt like a more intelligent spy film as opposed to a straight action flick.  While the remainder of the series also eschews the aesthetics of the first flick, none of the remaining three films stoop to levels as low as this film.  Quite frankly, the majority of the blame falls squarely on director John Woo's plate.  Saturated with an orange palette, Woo creates some of the silliest action sequences in the M:I series (that finale motorcycle scene is simply ridiculous) and then peppers in some of the hokiest non-action moments as well -- white doves flying out of fire, a lengthy flamenco dance (filmed via sweeping camera) that the main characters watch but never participate in, poorly directed scenes of romance between Tom Cruise and Thandie Newton.  There really is nothing good to talk about here.  Nothing.

While I mentioned in the first film's review this series' expertise in bringing together great casts, Woo directs typically solid actors like Anthony Hopkins and Brendan Gleeson so poorly that they can't add anything to the film.  Dougray Scott and Richard Roxburgh play villains with such a caricaturish spin that I half expected them to grow mustaches to twirl as they maniacally laugh.  Tom Cruise admittedly is solid -- a trait that will continue for him throughout the series -- but his beaming smile isn't enough to save this piece of dreck.

While Woo is certainly responsible for most of the blame, the trio of screenwriters here (one of whom actually helped to write the first film) must accept some responsibility for this film's failure as well.  One of the key gadgets of the Mission: Impossible series is a machine that creates a realistic face mask, accurately duplicating a person's facial features and vocal timbre.  I lost count of the number of times the writers used this trick in this film and utilizing this "gotcha"-type moment numerous times rings cheap and feels like a cop out.

I remember when this flick was released in 2000, I thought it was one of the worst movies of that year.  Having not watched it in over 15 years, I had hoped that maybe my mind was maybe just playing tricks on me and it wasn't nearly as bad as I had remembered.  Unfortunately, I realized that I'm not that senile as Mission: Impossible II is one of the worst action movies I've ever seen.  Fortunately, we move in a slightly different direction as the series moves forward because had this caliber of film continued, the Mission: Impossible franchise would've been one I'd have abandoned.

The RyMickey Rating:  F

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