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Movie Review

Superspy Ethan Hunt can’t even escape assignments by taking off on a secluded rock-climbing expedition. Once his employers find him, they send him on yet another impossible mission inspired by the gadgets, chases, latex faces and beat-the-clock derring-do popularized in the classic CBS TV series of the same title. This time Hunt must stop the villainous Sean Ambrose, a former fellow-agent gone bad who’s trying to make billions of dollars by unleashing a deadly virus on society while holding the patent on the antidote. To glean information from Ambrose, Hunt enlists the aid of the baddie’s ex-girlfriend, Nyah, an accomplished thief. But upon spending time with the ebony-skinned British beauty, Hunt has mixed feelings about sending her undercover with the dangerous killer. Audiences expect—and receive—a rollercoaster ride full of tense moments, action-packed showdowns, fast (expensive) cars and big explosions in exotic locales. If this sounds like the average James Bond movie, you’re not far off. It adheres pretty closely to that formula. But Hunt is a somewhat more noble hero than 007, making it easier to root for him. In the end, the bad guys are eliminated, the world is saved from a hideous biochemical beast and the door remains open for another sequel.

Positive Elements: Unlike James Bond, who abuses his license to kill at the slightest provocation, Ethan Hunt resists murdering people unless it is an absolutely necessary act of self-defense. As evidence, his nemesis predicts that Hunt will try to penetrate a secure laboratory from the roof, saying, "He’ll attempt aerobatic insanity before risking harming a hair on a security guard’s head." In other words, he's no Neo, either. Not only does Hunt show concern for innocent bystanders (a quality definitely not shared by the film’s villains), but he also exercises restraint when subduing his mortal enemies. He’d much rather knock them out than put a bullet in them, and demonstrates this frequently (though he must "shoot to kill" in several flurries of gunfire). At least twice, Hunt practices sacrificial devotion to Nyah by putting himself in danger to help her.

Spiritual Content: A Spanish festival involves locals carrying a large crucifix through the streets, and Hopkins questions the custom of "honoring their saints by setting them on fire."

Sexual Content: Nyah and Hunt’s first encounter strays way out of bounds. They meet as she’s trying to steal a necklace. When the owner unexpectedly returns home, Hunt and Nyah (who wears an extremely low-cut dress) lie, fully clothed, in a sexual position to avoid detection. Soon thereafter, he makes a sexual proposition. She replies, "This is awfully short notice." "Care to wait a decent interval?," he asks. Nyah responds breathlessly, "Who wants to be decent?" The next thing the audience sees is the couple lying in bed together the next morning. Elsewhere, Nyah undresses in front of a lusting Ambrose who grabs her arm and implies he wants sex before she covers back up. Unsure that Nyah has the skills to successfully feign interest in her old beau, Hunt gets a crass response from his superior ("To go to bed with a man and lie to him? She’s a woman; she’s got all the training she needs").

Violent Content: Frequent, though not excessively graphic. Flurries of gunfire, explosions, fiery car wrecks and more. A doctor’s neck is broken. We see disturbing photos of one man who has succumbed to the awful virus, and another who has been viciously murdered and stuffed in luggage. Many men are shot, several at close range. Ambrose slices off the end of a cohort’s finger with a cigar cutter. He and his cronies hijack a passenger jet and bail out before sending a plane full of innocent people crashing into a mountain. A carload of bad guys gets annihilated by a Mack truck. There’s also a considerable amount of bone-crunching hand-to-hand combat. Much of the violence is either sped up or shot in operatic slo-mo. According to director John Woo, "I like to shoot the action in a very emotional way, using slow motion and creating a lot of romance in the sequence. I see action almost as a ballet and sometimes as a cartoon." Indeed, it has a glamorous veneer.

Crude or Profane Language: Just over a dozen profanities. No f-words, but two s-words pop up and the misogynistic Ambrose refers to Nyah as a "b--ch" several times.

Drug and Alcohol Content: Ambrose (and a few other minor characters) drink alcohol.

Other Negative Elements: Characters gamble at a racetrack. Nyah is an unrepentant thief who has her criminal record wiped clean for cooperating with Hunt’s team.

Summary: That time-tested Mission: Impossible theme music—given modern flair with bursts of electric guitar—is an irresistible attention grabber. Add a magnetic star like Tom Cruise, impressive stunt work and eye-popping action and you have the makings of a summer blockbuster. Hopkins’ uncredited cameo is small, but memorable. And Dougray Scott’s evil genius is a formidable foe (a far cry from the charming prince he played opposite Drew Barrymore in Ever After). Still, I can’t recommend it. This sequel is an adrenaline rush that, while fun at times, should have adopted the modus operandi of its hero and throttled back on the body count. Action does not demand fatalities and Mission: Impossible 2 tags too many toes. There’s also implied casual sex and a smattering of sensual dialogue that send irresponsible messages. Let's hope for a little more Cruise control in M:i:III.


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Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt; Dougray Scott as Sean Ambrose; Thandie Newton as Nyah Hall; Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell; Brendan Gleeson as McCloy; Anthony Hopkins as Hunt’s boss; Richard Roxburgh as Hugh; John Polson as Billy Baird; Radé Sherboedgia as Dr. Nekhorvich


John Woo ( PaycheckWindtalkers)


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Bob Smithouser

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