M:I-2 (Mission Impossble 2)

Stars: Tom Cruise, Dougray Scott,Thandy Newton, Ving Rhames

Spectacular effects are the mark of director John Woo and he sure doesn’t let us down with this sequel to “Mission Impossible”. The other good thing is that this time around, the story actually makes sense. Obviously the KISS principal: “Keep it simple, stupid” was in play here.

Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt, spy extraordinare and master of disguise whose impossible mission is to get a crafty thief (Thandie Newton as Nyah Nordhoff Hall) to spy on Ethan’s nemesis and former ally, Sean Ambrose who’s maneuvering to acquire a deadly virus along with its cure from Biocyte Pharmaceuticals …all for profits and stock options. Nyah, as it turns out is Ambrose’s former girlfriend so she accomplishes her part in the scheme to thwart Ambrose’s acquisition fairly easily.

Dougray Scott plays a really good nasty villain as Ambrose. Cruise is sleek and able as Ethan, looking good and moving well as he scales sheer cliffs or speeds through flames and around tractor-trailers or jousting his enemy while on his motorcycle. These are all top notch stunts and the fight scenes are bone-crunching to the extreme.

You can’t, however, escape the similarity to the James Bond franchise – girls, gadgets and impossible odds. Still, it’s well done. Woo uses blasting music to accompany his numerous detonations and there are also lots of slo-motion shots – a few too many when it comes to Nyah and her static smoldering glares. She smiles or smolders and there’s little in between.

Cruise is really in his element here. He makes a formidable action figure. He walks, he talks and he looks great in black too.

Ving Rhames is featured as Luther Stickell, Ethan’s trusty computer expert; Brendan Gleeson plays John McCloy, the dastardly CEO of Biocyte.

Lotta says “M:I-2” is top action all the way. Storywise: predictable.