Please, please, don't go see Mission: Impossible 2. Stay home and rent From Russia With Love, or Terminator 2, or even Hard Target, director John Woo's first U.S. movie, which was actually action-packed as advertised. Sean Connery did the sexy action star thing much better and on a much smaller budget than Tom Cruise's self-absorbed, smarmy Ethan Hunt.
The film begins promisingly enough: Ethan suspended by his fingertips from a ledge in the Grand Canyon in a flashy opening sequence. Ethan is sent on a mission to convince sexy thief Nyah Hall (Thandie Newton) to reunite with her arch-criminal ex-boyfriend (Dougray Scott) and find out his nefarious plans for a deadly virus he's stolen. Suddenly, we're expected to believe that cool-guy Ethan falls madly in love with Nyah after a few steamy looks and spends the rest of the film desperately trying to save her from disaster.
This is not a daytime soap opera, folks! It takes more chemistry than a few chest shots and ridiculous banter like Nyah asking, "Do you mind if I'm on top?'' while they're scrambling around in a bath. The next hour of the film is the painfully slow set-up of the so-called plot, which is so thin and boring that the audience stops caring about the glaring holes and inconsistencies.
Woo never establishes that the fate of the world hangs in the balance, so the pounding music and monumental feel of the film just seem silly. When I watched it people in the cinema actually started laughing in the climactic fight scene.
Let's not even talk about the wasted talent. Sir Anthony Hopkins is given ludicrous dialogue. Newton, who was so sexy and luscious in Bernardo Bertolucci's Besieged, looks like a starving model and displays about the same acting talent. This is especially disappointing because Newton just sparkled in previous films -- including Flirting, which co-starred Cruise's real-life wife Nicole Kidman. Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) is similarly stripped of personality, a sad come-down for the ultra-smooth Luther of the first Mission: Impossible.
Finally, in the last half hour the film gets pumping up, playing like a live-action video game. Hunt sends bad guys flying with a single kick and performs amazing feats with a motorcycle. The pace and pulsing music are what we came to see. Doves fly to the roof, Ethan walks through fire, all right!! If Woo had made the whole movie like this, it would've been worth seeing.