Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Mission: Impossible 2


Among the half-dozen eggs in this basket, there probably had to be a rotten one, and this is it. And brother, is it rotten. I hated it, hated it, hated it, and its hugely overrated director, John Woo. He is hailed far and wide as a great action director, but don’t you believe it. He is incompetent. He is terrible. He’s talentless. There are several reasons I say this, but let’s just stick to the worst:

Sloooooooooooooow …


It is the invariable signature of the talentless director these days. Stretch it all out, slow it all down. Woo is in love with it. I sometimes get the feeling that if all the slomo stuff was run at regular speed the movie would be about an hour shorter. An exaggeration … but I think it might really have been fifteen or twenty minutes shorter.

There are those who say slomo enhances the action. I totally disagree with that. Slomo kills the action. Things are going along great, your heart is pounding, the adrenaline is flowing … and everything jerks to a halt as you watch a shot that took two seconds in the real world stretch out to fifteen seconds. Dull, dull, dull. In this piece of crap there is a motorcycle chase. Woo slows it down in at least half the shots. Cruise flies in the air and you have time to get up, pop some corn in the microwave, take a leak, sit back down … and he still hasn’t come down.

Of course it all ends with a man-to-man fight where at least twenty punches are landed that would have laid Muhammad Ali down for three weeks. These guys shake it off without a split lip. Well, you’ve come to expect that, right? But it all starts out with one of the dumbest, wackiest, inconceivably most jaw-droppingly moronic scenes ever filmed, (outside of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.) Cruise and the Bad Guy are facing off, each sitting on a motorcycle, revving the engines to show how macho they are. Then they fucking charge at each other, like knights in King Arthur’s court. I suppose it is meant as some sort of crazy homage or something like that. But then they leap off their bikes, fly through the air, and crash into each other, chest to chest. I’d have laughed if it wasn’t so stunningly bad. And people like this guy, this Woo. Well, he managed to screw this one up royally.

BTW: The script is by Robert Towne, which surprised and horrified me. His is not a name usually connected with sub-literate crap like this. In fact, he wrote what is one of my Top Twenty-five films of all time: Chinatown. He is widely known as a script doctor, and even there he was associated with some of the greats: Bonnie and Clyde, The Godfather, Marathon man. It had to have been the money, there is no other possible explanation. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t condemn an artist for working for a paycheck. It just saddens me that they have to.