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Awfully Good: Mission: Impossible II + Spy Kids 3D: Game Over (Video)

07.29.2015

Seeing Tom Cruise on a motorcycle in the previews for MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION reminds me of one thing…

 

Mission: Impossible II (2000)

 

Director: John Woo
Stars: Tom Cruise, Dougray Scott, Thandie Newton

 

Ethan Hunt must save the world from a deadly virus, but struggles against an unseen force that continually causes his body to move in slow motion.

To a kid who had HARD BOILED and FACE/OFF posters in his room and once wrote a term paper on Hong Kong action cinema, the idea of John Woo being given a $125 million budget to create a big summer blockbuster was a dream. So imagine my colossal disappointment when I walked out of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II's Metallica infused end credits confused and sad at the watered-down mess I had just witnessed. Fifteen years and three sequels later, M:I 2 is still dumb, but I've at least grown to appreciate it as "gloriously dumb"—released as one of the last relics of ridiculous 90s action.


Remember when Dougray Scott was supposed to be Wolverine in X-MEN before Hugh Jackman? He does. EVERY DAY.

The second film in the series has plenty of style and visual appeal to its action, which is enough to makes it at least occasionally entertaining. Unfortunately, it also has an absolutely terrible script by CHINATOWN screenwriter Robert Towne, who admits to having to write the movie around the action sequences Woo dictated. Even so, Towne lazily just carbon copies Alfred Hitchcock's spy thriller NOTORIOUS, except instead of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman you have Tom Cruise and Thandie Newton. Both are appealing actors, but a combination of tepid writing and awkward chemistry makes the romance aspect of the film physically painful to watch. Here's their epic love story: Tom Cruise creeps on her across the room at a flamenco dance party, they get in a flirty car chase that ends with her almost driving off a cliff, and then they sleep together. The rest of the film hinges on the strength of this laughable relationship. And you will laugh.


Cleavage Cam marked the first time it was worth paying for 3D.

This and all the other problems that plague MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II (seriously, there are so many bad lines I had trouble whittling them down for the video) would be more palatable if it capitalized on the promise of being a John Woo action film. However, aside from the finale and one midway shootout that feels like John Woo-light, there's not much action to be had. To the director's credit he tries his best to make the most of everything—including the most over-dramatic scarf grabbing of all time—but Towne's story is so straightforward and boring, there's no saving you from continually checking your watch. And it doesn't help that Woo leans WAY too heavily on his beloved slow motion here, even to the point of parody for uninteresting, unnecessary shots. No joke, if you took out all the slow motion sequences in this movie, it would probably be an hour shorter. 


"I'll show you who's John Woo's favorite. Stupid bird."

The film opens with two completely pointless sequences that waste the first 15 minutes, including Tom Cruise climbing an impossibly dangerous mountain for no other reason than to show off how badass he is. (You could make a case that between his flowing long hair, black leather outfits and constant slow motion, Cruise only exists in this movie to look as cool as possible.) By the time the Limp Bizkit rendition of the Mission: Impossible theme kicks, the bar for quality has been set for the next two hours. And it's another 20 minutes or so before you even learn about the plot, when Cruise goes to meet an uncredited (embarrassed?) Anthony Hopkins who shows him a video message that's exactly the same as the intro narration from the beginning of the movie. Turns out a terrible disease has been stolen by a rogue IMF agent and Cruise needs to literally pimp out the girl he just banged (and now loves) so she can sleep with the villain and gain his trust. Classy!


You'd make this face too if you got paid a million dollars for 3 hours worth of work.

Thankfully the bad guy is played by Dougray Scott, who is saddled with some truly terrible generic villain dialogue and characterization, but makes the most of it with a loudly over-the-top performance. Basically, he knows that Cruise's girlfriend is there to spy on him, but he's willing to jeopardize his billion dollar evil plan and keep her around simply because he's "gagging for it" i.e. super duper horny. His right hand man is future VAN HELSING victim Richard Roxburgh, who plays his character with an indecipherable accent AND as if he was Dougray Scott's jilted lover. And I'm not exaggerating or reading too much in to the subtext; the two have a confrontation with a cigar cutter that is more homoerotic than two men actually having sex.


Seriously. There's no other way to interpret this scene.

There aren't any real twists or turns (which is unusual for a MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE film) and the movie simply plods along until the finale...at which point the director unleashes MAXIMUM WOO on your ass. Cruise infiltrates a bunker in the most amazing fashion, kicking his way through a swarm of pigeons to take out all the henchmen. He then blows up a door as a lone John Woo dove flies through the fire, as if to announce Cruise's triumphant entrance. Cruise walks in slow motion past the fiery doorway, making eye contact with Dougray Scott and forever challenging his existence as a man. And when Scott sends his beloved Roxburgh after him, Cruise manages to use one of his lifelike masks to then trick Scott in to killing his own BFF instead. Which, if you think about it, means that the entire time Cruise was dropkicking henchmen and birds, he was also carrying around a mask of himself and Dougray Scott's domestic partner. Convenient!   


The urban remake of RISKY BUSINESS had familiar marketing.

Next up, Cruise gets in to a motorcycle chase with a bike that clearly has a force field around it, given the number of bullets it constantly deflects. What could've been a memorable action sequence quickly turns in to a ridiculous display of Tom Cruise showing off all the cool tricks he can do on a motorcycle. He somehow uses wheelies, burning rubber, and street surfing to kill everyone stupid enough to chase him. This culminates on a beach where Cruise and Scott engage in either the greatest or dumbest showdown of all time: a literal joust where the two ride straight at each other and jump in to the air as their motorcycles explode. And of course this leads to yet another climactic fight where Tom Cruise is sure to strike as many cool slow motion poses as possible and make perfect uses of his lustrous hair as he defeats the villain and saves the girl he will love until they cast the next film.


"F*CK HELMETS!"

Ah, they really don't make movies like this anymore. That's probably a good thing. 

Dougray Scott's homoerotic showdown, Thandie Newton's interest in getting spanked, and everything terrible in between. 

Some of the movie's most ridiculous action and fight scenes. BONUS: Scarf grabbing!

Thandie Newton shows some cleavage but that's about it. 


Your mission should you choose to accept it… Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • There's unnecessary slow motion
  • Someone pulls off a mask
  • Rade Šerbedžija talks about heroes and villains
  • A dove is seen 
  • Brendan Gleeson appears as Exposition Dump Character
  • Cruise drops into a room on a wire just like in the first movie

Double shot if:

  • Someone actually says "mission impossible"

But, wait, this article hasn't self destructed yet! Check out this week's Awfully Good Movies video column where host Jesse Shade gets into SPY KIDS 3D: GAME OVER. It's a beautiful bonanza of cringe-worthiness, complete with guest stars galore. Enjoy!

Thanks to Marco for suggesting this week's movie!

 

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Extra Tidbit: Supposedly, John Woo's original cut clocked in at 3.5 hours with an R rating.
Source: JoBlo.com

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10:44PM on 11/25/2015
I have to admit. I've always loved Mission: Impossible II. Never understood the hate toward it.
I have to admit. I've always loved Mission: Impossible II. Never understood the hate toward it.
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2:59PM on 07/29/2015
I've actually never gone back to watch Mission: Impossible - 2 since it's theatrical run. I've been thinking lately I might just to see what works and doesn't. Although this pretty much says everything I remember about it. As someone who watched and re-watched the first movie on video, I found the stylized action of the second a bit jarring. That, and Luther Stickell, whose friendship with Ethan Hunt was what really made the first movie work for me, was given a thankless walk-on role.
I've actually never gone back to watch Mission: Impossible - 2 since it's theatrical run. I've been thinking lately I might just to see what works and doesn't. Although this pretty much says everything I remember about it. As someone who watched and re-watched the first movie on video, I found the stylized action of the second a bit jarring. That, and Luther Stickell, whose friendship with Ethan Hunt was what really made the first movie work for me, was given a thankless walk-on role. Subsequent entries have done a good job of marrying the spy-craft of the first and the action of the second, but taken together, the first two feel like two different franchises.
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12:53PM on 07/29/2015
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE II: 5/10
SPY KIDS 3: 4/10
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE II: 5/10
SPY KIDS 3: 4/10
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11:59AM on 07/29/2015
It's pretty bad but not Awfully Good bad.
It's pretty bad but not Awfully Good bad.
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11:40AM on 07/29/2015
Haha, I just laughed out very loud at F**k Helmets caption. Priceless. As for the movie itself, M:I 2 is a guilty pleasure. You either love it or hate it. I both love it and hate it at the same time but the movie redeems itself by the third act and the climax action scene. And now it maybe a good time for Dougray Scott to audition for Wolverine again regardless of what he's doing now.
Haha, I just laughed out very loud at F**k Helmets caption. Priceless. As for the movie itself, M:I 2 is a guilty pleasure. You either love it or hate it. I both love it and hate it at the same time but the movie redeems itself by the third act and the climax action scene. And now it maybe a good time for Dougray Scott to audition for Wolverine again regardless of what he's doing now.
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11:00AM on 07/29/2015

I have to admit MI:2 is a guilty pleasure

The best line in this article is "Cruise walks in slow motion past the fiery doorway, making eye contact with Dougray Scott and forever challenging his existence as a man." It's so true, and I love it!
The best line in this article is "Cruise walks in slow motion past the fiery doorway, making eye contact with Dougray Scott and forever challenging his existence as a man." It's so true, and I love it!
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1:13PM on 07/29/2015
yep, i was going to quote that line too, genuis stuff.
yep, i was going to quote that line too, genuis stuff.
10:53AM on 07/29/2015
Eh, I like MI2 the best, it's pure unapologetic formalism. I did laugh when Cruise basically repeats Daniel Day-Lewis' line from LAST OF THE MOHICANS: "Just stay alive. No matter what it takes, just stay alive!!!" The problem I have with the new MI films is the lack of an individual style to each, they're so cookie cutter and generic and look like they could've been directed by the same director. Franchises never want too much style because they want to be accessible. I have the same problem
Eh, I like MI2 the best, it's pure unapologetic formalism. I did laugh when Cruise basically repeats Daniel Day-Lewis' line from LAST OF THE MOHICANS: "Just stay alive. No matter what it takes, just stay alive!!!" The problem I have with the new MI films is the lack of an individual style to each, they're so cookie cutter and generic and look like they could've been directed by the same director. Franchises never want too much style because they want to be accessible. I have the same problem with the last two Bond films. Anyways, I'll take visual stylists like Brian de Palma and John Woo over JJ "Hey, let's add wit and wisecracks and a bumbling nerdy tech guy" Abrams and Brad Bird any day.
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1:25PM on 07/29/2015
I'll disagree, Abrams' entry had a very distinct look and feel - from music, to photography, to editing and dialogue, it was basically an episode of 'Alias' but with Ethan Hunt and a big budget, I'm not sure how that isn't individual to the first two entries. Still, to each there own, I'm a fan of all the individual entries anyway, its a great franchise and love they get a new director every time.
I'll disagree, Abrams' entry had a very distinct look and feel - from music, to photography, to editing and dialogue, it was basically an episode of 'Alias' but with Ethan Hunt and a big budget, I'm not sure how that isn't individual to the first two entries. Still, to each there own, I'm a fan of all the individual entries anyway, its a great franchise and love they get a new director every time.
10:24AM on 07/29/2015
Mission Impossible 2 is a good film. My personal favorite of the franchise, even though I think Ghost Protocol is the overall best out the four thus far. It may be silly at times, but I thought the over the top style was a nice counter from the first film.
Mission Impossible 2 is a good film. My personal favorite of the franchise, even though I think Ghost Protocol is the overall best out the four thus far. It may be silly at times, but I thought the over the top style was a nice counter from the first film.
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