Saturday, March 16, 2013
Short Cut Movie Review From My Collection - Mission: Impossible II
I was so crazy for John Woo at the time Mission: Impossible II came out that almost nothing could have deterred my enthusiasm for the film. I still love it today and see plenty to admire in it and it remains my favorite of the four films in the series, but there are some obvious flaws in it that I never quite saw 13 years ago.
People have been criticizing this film, as well as many other Woo films, for the use of slow motion, for the unbelievable drama, for the doves and pigeons. Okay, his use of birds floating around during climactic action scenes does get tiresome. But I think the heightened drama really plays well in most of his films, and especially well in the case of Mission: Impossible II. Woo loves to combine elements of Douglas Sirk level melodrama with totally unbridled action. Isn’t an action sequence more thrilling, doesn’t the lump in your throat or the hold on your breath grow more powerful if the dramatic tension is raised even beyond the level of realism? Why should we criticize a movie that employs ridiculous and unbelievable action stunts for coupling it with unbelievable drama?
Until Misson:Impossible – Ghost Protocol, this was easily some of Tom Cruise’s greatest stunt work as an actor. His love interest, played by Thandie Newton, is exquisitely beautiful. I never had any problem believing the two of them could fall so hard for each other so quickly. Dougray Scott isn’t exactly the greatest villain in action history and he does force it occasionally, but watching it now I’m more focused on his number two man, played by Richard Roxburgh. Compare Roxburgh’s performance here with his role in Moulin Rouge and you see what a fantastic actor he is.
The movie’s weakest link, I see now, is Robert Towne’s screenplay, which relies too heavily on cliché-ridden often lazy dialogue. It’s remarkable to think this is the same guy who wrote Chinatown. Also, some of the stunts don’t make physical sense when a man is flying through the air in one direction and he’s suddenly propelled in the opposite direction by a bullet. It’s poor in a disorienting way. But overall, the stunts are spectacular and the vast majority of the action expertly directed by master Woo.