Main cast: Tom Cruise (Ethan Hunt), Dougray Scott (Sean Ambrose), Thandie Newton (Nyah Nordoff-Hall), Ving Rhames (Luther Stickell), Anthony Hopkins (Mission Commander Swanbeck), John Polson (Billy Baird), Brendan Gleeson (John C. McClory), Dominic Purcell (Ulrich), and Richard Roxburgh (Hugh Stamp)
Director: John Woo
There is always a poeticism and even eroticism in John Woo’s action-packed movies. In Face/Off, bad biology notwithstanding, the final scenes in the church simply sings. In Mission: Impossible 2, bad biology notwithstanding, the slickly choreographed action scenes just somehow lack their usual underlying poetry. This one is – dare I say it? – a lifeless if exciting adrenaline rush of a movie redeemed only by the first hour of chemistry between the two main leads.
Ethan Hunt this time is sent to recover some lethal virus named Chimera, and he recruits Nyah, a beautiful and skilled thief (as well as two obligatory and useless agents to keep to the team spirit of the TV show). Ethan and Nyah sizzle, oh my, and one really should check out the naughty scene in the bath tub. It is great to see Tom Cruise loosening up and enjoying the presence of his female co-star, something he hasn’t done since he ditched his Top Gun duds to be “serious”.
Nyah has had an affair with the villain Sean Ambrose, and she resumes her relationship to save the world. Ethan watches from the sidelines, his face contorted in self-loathing. How much should one sacrifice for the sake of saving the world? There’s a love story in here, a good, moving one.
After all, Nyah and Ethan are soul-mates bound by a love for the reckless and dangerous. Don’t believe me? Check out their courtship – a car chase that almost ended in death but ended up in the bedroom instead. There’s no foreplay like adrenaline rush, I say.
And Thandie Newton plays Nyah wonderfully. Nyah is a worthy heroine, a woman who knows how to use her feminine wiles and skills to survive in the world of big boys and their guns. And Dougray Scott scowls too much, but honey, isn’t he eye candy or what? He’s even more droolsome here than in Ever After. And Australian actor Richard Roxburgh is also delicious eye-candy, but he is wasted in his role as Ambrose’s silent sidekick.
John Woo did put in some trademark elegant and almost religiously beautiful scenes. There’s the heartstopping, flirtatious first meeting between Ethan and Nyah, a meeting of eyes amidst swirling red fabrics of the skirts of the dancers in the dance hall. The bath tub scene that is even hotter than the actual love scenes. The flying doves.
But as the movie drags into the second hour, Mission: Impossible 2 loses all semblance of watchability, dragging into a long, tedious series of explosions, flying kicks, car chases that go on and on and on just like that blasted Titanic song. I love this one for the sexual chemistry between Mr Cruise and Ms Newton, but everything else about this movie is strictly pyrotechnics in monotone.