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

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.


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 Å erbedžija 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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