"I don't have a conscience. I'm a bloody thief," Thandie Newton says to Tom Cruise.
In "MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2" ("M:I-2"), everyone's a thief from screenwriter Robert ("CHINATOWN") Towne and his flimsy script, to movie director John ("FACE/OFF") Woo and his dizzy stunts rivaling James Bond and Jackie Chan -minus all humor.
In "M:I-2," your Show Biz Maven noticed that music blares, a jet plummets, and the threat of a catastrophic deadly virus looms. But why worry when super spy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is about to enter the scene. And enter he does dangling from cliffs, scaling rugged mountains, and then jumping 30 feet to safety. Look again. There's no net! No ropes! No harness! No gloves! Why bother when you're Tom Cruise and all you need is a smile.
And a mission. Through a pair of sunglasses, Cruises sees and hears his boss (Anthony Hopkins) explain his latest assignment. He must recruit the help of a renowned thief (Thandie Newton), and stop a deadly virus that threatens to annihilate mankind. Within five seconds the glasses self-destruct. So does the movie.
Let's start with the love interest. Thandie Newton is wafer thin and wears clothing that wouldn't be hawked on the Home Shopping network. While voluptuous in the Thomas Jefferson television saga, here in "M:I-2" it's difficult to imagine the stellar Cruise not having his pick of beauties with brains. And although the superstar's appearance is purposely shaggy in hairdo and stubble, this doesn't excuse Newton who resembles a reject Bond girl who has been dieted into a crimped straw.
Villainous Dongray Scott has a juicy role as the madman who's intent on unleashing an infectious virus on the world. Unfortunately, he has just finished Acting 101, so even his Scottish accent seems put on. Ving Rhames and John Polson play buddies to Cruise and are never in real danger like the audience from falling asleep at one too many masks being ripped off faces (The Maven could almost hear Gloria Swanson say, "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. W:OO."). And need your Maven mention all the repetitive stunts (somersaults, kicks, twirls, pirouettes) formulaic even to people wandering into the wrong movie theatre.
Following in the footsteps of the $420 million dollar "MISSION IMPOSSIBLE," it's obvious why the studio longed for a sequel. But instead of writing fun dialogue to make the Cruise character more likeable, scriptwriter Towne inserted more gimmickry ranging from a sexy car chase to a staggering motorcycle duel. Finally, sound effects caused your Maven's ear trumpet to dislodge, as there were more gun firings than heard at a police academy.
But of course our hearts should be pounding as it does whenever the original "MISSION IMPOSSIBLE" music is played. And we should be sighing whenever movie star Cruise is in full view. Maybe that's why fans get nostalgic when the hero recites to Newton: "Damn, you're beautiful." We want to say, "Tom, so are you."
With love & knishes from your Show Biz Maven
# # #