Yes, it's a hit machine, a blockbuster by the numbers. But it's actually sharper, less reverential and generally better than MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, a stylish, globe-trotting, action-packed espionage romp in the style of James
Bond films before they degenerated into smirking, bloated spectacles. Rogue IMF agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) and his crew have hijacked both a lethal, man-made virus named Chimera and its antidote, and are ransoming them off to the highest bidder. Ethan Hunt's (Tom Cruise) orders are to
recover the doomsday bug with the help of Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton), a stunner of the glamorous, light-fingered international felon variety. The reason for her mandatory inclusion, which Hunt learns after he's fallen for her considerable charms, is that she's Ambrose's ex and ideally
suited to insinuate herself into his confidence. Computer whiz Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) is back handling the hacking, and the action comes complete with vehicular pursuits, cunning masquerades, spectacular shootouts and clever gadgetry. Neither MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE director Brian DePalma nor
M:I2 helmer John Woo is known for his subtlety. But Woo, late of the no-holds-barred Hong Kong school of movie mayhem, is a singularly graceful filmmaker, a true believer in the power of elegant stunt choreography and the infinite allure of the human face. That's not to say that this picture
lacks spectacular CGI effects it doesn't only that Woo doesn't worship at their altar. Some leaden dialogue and overstated imagery here (enough with the birds), a bit of wildly improbable plotting there it doesn't matter; this is top-of-the-line disposable entertainment. An
uncredited Anthony Hopkins replaces the disgraced Jim Phelps (Jon Voight) as the head of the IMF; though his role is small, he gets the film's best line, spoken to a reluctant Hunt: "This is not Mission: Difficult, Mr. Hunt. It's Mission: Impossible." Touché!
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