A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this second installment in the Mission: Impossible series is as action-packed and suspense-filled as the original film, though it's far more brutal. Characters are dispatched using an amazing assortment of weaponry, skills, and derring-do: knives, automatic weapons, plane crashes, falls from steep cliffs, vicious hand-to-hand combat, martial arts, explosions, flame throwers, and the devastatingly visual of a virus slowly destroying a human body. In most instances, however, an effort is made to keep the gore and carnage off camera, so while bodies fly and things explode, the audience is not exposed to the grisly aftermath. There is some sexuality with kissing, mild foreplay, partial undressing, and post-sexual cuddling. Some swearing ("bitch," "ass," "damn") is heard infrequently.
What's the story?
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2 is the essence of a summer movie: gorgeous stars, sensational stunts, nerve-wracking chases, steamy romance, some "gotcha" plot twists, and lots of explosions. This time, agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has to retrieve the secret formula to a virus that could destroy humankind. Hunt's task won't be easy – the virus has been stolen by his former colleague Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) who knows all his tricks. As Hunt's boss (an unbilled Anthony Hopkins) says, "It's not Mission Difficult; it's Mission Impossible." He must persuade his girlfriend (and jewel thief) Nyah (Thandie Newton) to get romantically involved with her ex-flame, Ambrose.
Is it any good?
This is a terrific thrill ride of a movie, and Cruise just keeps getting better. The first film in the series was a huge success, but most viewers thought that the real mission impossible was trying to understand the plot; this time, they make it simple so we can just sit back and enjoy. Ving Rhames returns as the world's least geeky computer genius, but aside from a couple of impeccably delivered lines, he never gets a chance to show us what he can do. Hunt is more like loner James Bond than he is like MI's Jim Phelps. But that's a small point.
Director John Woo's trademarks are all here -- the hero sliding across the floor in slow motion, firing two guns at once, the balletic combat, the villain's streak of sadism, and an engaging willingness to tweak, even spoof, his own conventions. Unfortunately the movie leaves out the best part of the original Mission Impossible concept, back in the days of the TV show, and that was teamwork. It was a lot of fun to see how the special expertise of each of the MI team members was going to come in handy.
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For kids who love action and thrills
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