Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hunt, Ethan Hunt.


  With Ghost Protocol on the way, my attention has been recently drawn back to these Tom Cruise action vehicles. Having seen the first and third Mission Impossible movies countless times, and the second one, only once... it was long overdue for a revisit.
 
  Sometimes things tend to age better in your mind. As if  your memories of the negative aspects of such a thing tend to blur and fade. Perhaps, with a fresh perspective, you might enjoy that one particular movie you never really thought was all that good to begin with. Well, such is the case with "M:I-2". I thought I might really enjoy it. Yeah...

  Directed by one of my all time favorites, John Woo, I almost feel guilty for not liking it more than I do.  But Mission Impossible is the wrong franchise for you John. Sorry.
  The overly stylized shootouts, the excessive slow motion, and the slew of other time honored cliches of big blockbuster action movies feel so very very out of place here. And thats the least of the issues.
Like Jason Bourne, and to a lesser extent, James Bond, these men of action thrive under pressure. More specifically, when things go wrong. A setup, a double cross, and stuff like that. Which is what Mission Impossible did so very well. A massive setup and a twisting plot, wrapped around pulse pounding set pieces. Like a well oiled machine, with a dizzying array of moving parts, the first Mission Impossible outing, managed to excite and thrill.

  M:I-2, however, manages to feel less like the brainy and exhilarating ride of its predecessor, and more like a Brosnan era Bond flick. This is not good. Ethan Hunt no longer feels like Ethan Hunt. He acts JUST like James Bond. And this time around he's simply on an assigned save-the-world mission. No government setup, no big internal mole hunt, nothing thought provoking. No story capable of delivering anything clever. Expect no twists and no turns.
  You can expect a Bond villain though. And a typical Bond-like plot. Hell, theres even a Bond girl, and she does a great job of being a Bond girl.
  Further irritating me is the the use of those extremely cool masks they used in the first movie to look exactly like someone else. But instead of utilizing them in a clever manner, they appear extremely conviniently, and almost everytime the plot is in dire need of something to keep the audience interested... which is just about every 5 to 10 minutes. By the fourth time I saw someone peel someone else's face off, I was wondering if they keep these masks in their coat pockets or something. Like someone keeping a condom on them just in case you know? Its annoying. Not cool.

  I'm losing objectivity here. My ultimate point is this:
Its too much of the wrong thing.
  Most people won't mind the excessive action over a decent plot, or the fact the villain isn't really all that scary, or the fact Ethan Hunt looks like he stepped out of a damn movie poster the entire time, or the cookie cutter romantic sub plot, or the fact there even IS a romantic sub plot... but I mind. It all belongs in a different series. A different franchise. Wheres the intrigue? Wheres the mystery? Not here unfortunately.
And let me clarify on that "movie poster" bit there.
 Take note in a movie like Die hard, by the end of the movie, the hero is all cut up, banged up, shot, bleeding, and his clothes only hanging on by a thread here and there, the rest is all blood stains and such. This should be what Hunt looks like by the end of this movie, but he doesn't. He has to look cool and stylish for his slow motion close ups in his ultra-cool leather jacket and such. Which is exactly how they would show him... on the movie poster.
I... can't even begin to say how incredibly corny that looks to me now. I'm also pretty sure theres a scene towards the end where we cut away, then back, and stylish black sunglasses have just managed to appear on his face out of, apparently, nowhere. Wow. Now thats a cool trick.

  Now, in any other movie, I wouldn't mind all this as much. I might even love it. But it is not what a Mission Impossible movie should be like. And for the life of me I can't get over that. Its tone is so drastically different from the others I find myself waiting for that specific cue where Cruise will have to say 'his' name: "The name's Hunt...... Ethan Hunt."
 Ha. No. It sadly does not feel like a smart and exciting movie. They've stripped it of what made the first one awesome, and injects the standard ingredients for a typical summer blockbuster. It feels like just another summer hollywood movie. I have more complaints, but I won't waste anymore time listing them. This movie is best seen a couple times, once to get a feel for it, twice to criticize the hell out of it, and then again to accept it as a guilty pleasure and simple weekend action fare. I've yet to get to my third viewing.

  However I cannot conclude this review without giving the movie its due diligence. Despite my feelings towards it, I can't help but also kinda... kick back, be mildly entertained, and take it for what it is apart from the others. Its a serviceable action movie. The action is well choreographed and very good eye candy, which is about the best compliment I can level at M:I-2.
It is decent eye candy.
Of course, not to be had without a nice bowl of popcorn though.  :)

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