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MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2

SYNOPSIS: Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) leads his IMF team on a mission (impossible?) to re-capture and destroy a deadly man-made virus before it falls into the wrong hands. He has help in the shape of computer genius Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and chopper pilot Billy Baird (John Polson). His target is former agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) and his henchman Hugh Stamp (Richard Roxburgh) who are indeed, 'the wrong hands'. Hunt is sent to recruit Ambrose's former girlfriend, the international thief, Nyah Hall (Thandie Newton), to get her to be the Trojan Horse in the Ambrose camp. Which man can trust her?

"Tom Cruise soars high in the air on his motorbike, crashing through a wall of flames, and saves the day, saves the girl, saves the world. You know the stuff. Big star plus big budget action is the formula for Mission Impossible 2, and in the assured hands of John Woo, is both successful and highly entertaining. This is sheer unadulterated escapism with an international flavour – both in terms of locations and cast. Writer Robert Towne has constructed a screenplay that not only showcases superb action, but assembles a fascinating mix of characters with an array of accents from US, Europe, UK, South Africa and Australia. And it works. It's slick, stylish and screams along at top speed, enhanced by Hans Zimmer's pulsating and moody soundtrack, with the familiar MI theme weaving in and out at welcome moments. There are plenty of sparks – from the awesome car & cycle chase to those of a more personal kind, with Cruise, a super hero, Thandie Newton a beguiling leading lady and Dougray Scott a surprisingly effective villain. There's a good balance of wit, dry humour plus a bonus of a laid-back larrikin Aussie character played to a T by John Polson, who steals all the laughs. Richard Roxburgh leaves a chilling impact, with Ving Rhames and Anthony Hopkins welcome additions to the mix. There are non-stop twists and turns, eye-boggling stunts and high-tech themes. And thank goodness for net banking – how easy and quick it appears to transfer $30,000,000 online. It's not only the big stunts that appear impossible: I couldn't help but notice that no matter what, hero and villain never lost their sunglasses. What's the trick, I wonder? The rugged Utah location (where Cruise hangs off the side of a cliff) is breathtaking, while Sydney locations are wonderfully diverse – from her beautiful harbour vistas to the rugged outback of Broken Hill. MI:2 is old-fashioned entertainment liberally coated with flair, style and an explosion of action."
Louise Keller

"Mike Selwyn, the managing director of UIP who distribute the film, introduced the Sydney media preview of MI:2 with a few words - just about the film's opening box office takings in the US approaching $100 million. It serves to underline that film is a big part of the entertainment business in Hollywood, and this is a $100 million investment. The question, then, is: is it worth the price of admission? And the answer is: it depends. If you are buying a ticket to the monster big dipper at Luna Park, you shouldn't expect a concert by Yehudi Menuhin. As the big dipper ride, MI:2 succeeds, even though I wish John Woo hadn't whittled down the central plank of the tv series: team work. It's still there, but less of it. I also wish he hadn't cast Ving Rhames in the role of the black computer-and-gizmo expert; it needs big character vibes, not big physique. Cuba Gooding jnr, say, would have been a much cooler choice. But key performances are solid: Cruise, Scott and Newton make a gutsy, credible love-in-action triangle, and even deliver some throw away lines for a bit of fun. As for the stunts, the incredible ones are, frankly, incredible, and audiences will have a giggle at a couple of them, but the fight sequences and shoot outs are up to scratch. Apart from those couple of reservations, I got a kick out of the film's pace and energy, the 'action and attraction' story works well with Cruise and Newton - following James Bond's multi-racial romantic lead. Indeed, this is more of a Bond film than a Mission Impossible, and even half the main cast is British (Newton, Dougray Scott as the villain, Anthony Hopkins as Hunt's boss…). The Australians Richard Roxburgh and John Polson contribute well (Polson will gets several laughs purely on his characterisation), and the technical/digital work is expensive. Robert Towne's script is weighted for character involvement at the beginning, as he establishes the romance between Nay and Ethan, which has to be well formed otherwise the rest of the film will be one dimensional. And I don't mind the approach; whether younger, adrenalin-starved teenagers will get impatient here is another matter. But it's worth their while to stick with it: they'll get a mountainside car chase, a helicopter gun chase, several shoot outs, a skyscraper escape, serious explosions of cars, vans and buildings, and a handful of scenic Sydney harbour shots - which earned patriotic applause from the Sydney audience - not to mention several face/off-like mask swaps that make plot point jumps. Let's face it, it's a John Woo film."
Andrew L. Urban

"Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to watch MI2, pick the fake accents, laugh at some truly hilarious dialogue, be steamrolled by clichés and be amazed by some stunning action sequences. Action ubermeister John Woo brings his considerable skills to this Tom Cruise action flick and delivers pretty much what you'd expect. The thrills come thick and fast as the good guys chase the bad guys across the globe and around Sydney. MI2 is elevated above the run-of-the-mill by Woo's trademark stylistic flourishes, including several he used in Face/Off, and some new ones that had the audience gasping. It's a pity there wasn't more flourish in the script which brings nothing new to the genre. In fact, some scenes are so risible, they defy even the label of cliché. Cruise is back in superstar mode after his edgier turns in Eyes Wide Shut and Magnolia. He's an unstoppable bundle of derring-do, good looks, flying hair and flashing smiles. The supporting cast is heavily stacked with Aussies (great to see) including John Polson as Cruise's ocker sidekick and Richard Roxburgh as the bad guy's loyal lieutenant. Dougray Scott plays against type as Ethan's incredibly evil nemesis Sean Ambrose (though not a very evil name if you ask me). Thandie Newton brings her smouldering looks to the production, but she gets pushed aside once the bullets start flying. MI2 is everything we've come to depend upon in a big action blockbuster - which means it will probably be seen by millions."
David Edwards

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

TRAILER

See Andrew L. Urban's interview with JOHN POLSON

See Brad Green's SOUNDTRACK REVIEW


John Polson


Richard Roxburgh

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2 (M)
(US)

CAST: Tom Cruise, Thandie Newton, Dougray Scott, Ving Rhames, William R. Mapother, Brendan Gleeson, Anthony Hopkins, John Polson, Richard Roxburgh

DIRECTOR: John Woo

PRODUCERS: Terence Chang, Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner, Paul Hitchcock

SCRIPT: Robert Towne

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jeffrey L. Kimball

EDITOR: Steven Kemper, Christian Wagner

MUSIC: BT (Brian Transeau), Hans Zimmer

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Thomas E. Sanders

RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: June 1, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Pictures

VIDEO RELEASE: January 5, 2001

VIDEO SELLTHROUGH RELEASE: July 6, 2001







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