WHAT THE FILM!? “Mission: Impossible II”

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What The Film?! is a new weekly column exclusive to Under The Gun Review that brings to light the plot holes Hollywood hoped you’d never notice. Written by comedy writer Dane Sager, this column shows no mercy to films that try and pull the proverbial wool over our eyes.

If you know a film with major plot holes that you feel needs to be exposed, tell us! Email utgjames@gmail.com with the subject “What The Film” and we’ll try to get your suggestion featured on the site.

This Week’s Movie: 2000’s Mission: Impossible II.

I have a confession to make: after The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the movie I’m most excited about this holiday season is Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (although The Adventures of Tintin is growing on me). I ended up buying the first three Mission: Impossible movies in a BluRay box set this past Tuesday to watch the prior installments again before the fourth one hits theaters. I actually wouldn’t be so excited if Mission: Impossible III wasn’t as good as it was or if Brad Bird wasn’t directing it as his first live action feature. The flap on the back of the BluRay case describes M:I‘s protagonist Ethan Hunt as “one of the greatest action heroes of all time”. What? No. Boo. No.

 

Even he looks confused with that description.

Mission: Impossible started as one of the smartest and coolest television shows ever made and has one of the most iconic theme songs in the visual media (DO DO Dooooo). The show followed a group of American secret agents and their team leader Jim Phelps as they worked for the the fictional government agency IMF (the creatively named Impossible Mission(s) Force). IMF is used to fight the Soviets in the Cold War using their brains, gadgets, and teamwork. It was smart, it was well written, well acted, and came out shortly after James Bond made secret agents the hot flavor in media.

 

Plus it didn't have that rape-y aftertaste.

Tom Cruise was a huge fan of the television show and was adamant about making a movie. He approached Paramount (who owned the rights) and convinced them that it was about time for Mission: Impossible to return. Studios were reluctant at first, as they were unaware how popular a spy movie would be after the Cold War had ended, but the success of 1995’s Goldeneye (the first James Bond picture without the cold war) convinced them otherwise. Production soon started and they hired Brian DePalma (of Scarface and Carlito’s Way fame) to direct. The movie was smart, tense, and intentionally low on action. Guns are fired only twice over the course of the entire movie. The lack of action made what little action occur more visceral, real, and intense. As a result, the train sequence at the climax of the movie ends up being one of the best action sequences in the 1990’s. The Nintendo 64 game based off of it was pretty slick as well.

FORESHADOWING

There is a bit of a problem with the first movie and how it fits with the television series. The producers of the movie franchise insist that the movies are in continuity with the television show and is an extension of the show, the producers of the television insist that they aren’t. The original plan was to have the original cast of the TV show involved with the movie and get killed off throughout the movie, paving the way for a new team to take over the now movie franchise. None of the original cast wanted to do with that, so no one signed on and they had to recast Jim Phelps for the movie. The biggest issue that fans had with the series was how they handled Jim Phelps in the movie. Despite being the team leader, he was almost a completely different character. They attempted to justify his bitterness as being caused by the Cold War ending and him no longer feeling needed. It was Jim Phelps in name only.

Charlie Sheen's brother was in it too.

The movie was successful enough to warrant a sequel in 2000. Let’s get this straight and out in the open: Mission: Impossible II was a train wreck of a movie. The movie was written by coming up with action scenes that they thought were cool and then writing a loose plot line to link them together. It was less of a movie and more of a mixtape of gun porn. Gone was the smart team based format, maybe for good.  They hired action crackerjack John Woo to direct it, who added his own action sequences and the script was rewritten as the movie was shot. Due to all the complications, producers didn’t want certain scenes in it, some sequences being too complicated, dangerous, or stupid (not mutually exclusive).

How bad could it be? Well, production was halted several times for a few weeks and the original cinematographer ended left in the middle of the shoot. The original print was over 3.5 hours and it had to be edited down to 2 hours, destroying what little plot was left. If they had taken out all the slow motion, it would have easily fit the 2 hour limit. Metallica, Limp Bizkit, and Buckcherry all wrote songs for it. Even worse is that John Woo made the fatal mistake of failing to cast Nicolas Cage as the villain Sean Ambrose despite casting him in his prior movie Face/Off.

What The Film?! is going to have reoccuring Nic Cage and Limp Bizkit jokes from this point on.

The fact is that I don’t have enough time or space to point out every plot hole and stupid stupid dumbness that this movie produced. I will have to make a Mission: Impossible II: Part 2 at one point. I’ll just emphasize one specific moment of WTFilm.

In the climax of the movie, there is a motorcycle chase scene between the protagonist Ethan Hunt and the antagonist Sean Ambrose. The scene goes on for much much longer than it should. Small continuity errors that couldn’t be caused by the time limiting cuts occur, such as the motorcycle tires change from off-road to on-road tires between shots while changing locations. All sorts of movie cliches are here, cars exploding as the hatch to their gas tanks are shot, motorcycles do wheelies for absolutely no reason (this happens in almost every movie that has motorcycles for some reason), but the biggest issue is how the chase sequence ends.

After much motorcycling, Sean and Ethan find themselves facing each other from about 100 yards apart. They accelerate, going faster and faster, doing wheelies for absolutely no reason other than to make it the most X-treme game of chicken they can. Once they reach their peak speed and meet with each other, Ethan and Sean jump off of their motorcycles and into each other as the motorcycles collide in a fireball of an explosion. The two adversaries fall to the beach below and start fighting without any injury.

They jumped off motorcycles going 50+ mph into each other’s arms. It’d be romantic, if it weren’t suicide. There’s no possible way that they could have survived that, or at the very least becoming a quadriplegic. If you hit a wall at 35mph, that is the equivalent of falling from a 3 story ledge and hitting pavement. Hitting another human being at 50mph would kill you or at least murder most of your organs. I’m not the only one bothered by this. The only way this could possibly would work would be if Ethan Hunt had a metal skeleton like Wolverine, but even then his organs would be pretty beat up. He certainly wouldn’t of gotten up and had a fist fight afterward. What is that metal called? Edamame? Yeah, that sounds right.

“I'm a Brontasaur”

Dane didn’t get kicked off a plane for playing Words With Friends, so his twitter account is still active. You can follow him on Twitter and Tumblr.

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  • theactionfan

    This is actually a great action movie which was butchered by the studio. Whatever inconsistencies may have been evident were clearly a result of trying to censor John Woo, which is Ridiculous since so many more violent American movies already exist. Actually the bike chase scene where they jump off their bikes into each other and fall off the cliff to fight was really butchered. After the bikes explode they both fall separately from each other. Sean actually gets up after falling, points his gun at Hunt which point Hunt charges at him, lunging both their bodies off the cliff. One can clearly see the cut at the end portion of this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRQBA3pHOG0 

    It seems the studio is too embarrassed to release an uncut version since they know how much more sense the film would seem to make compared to the crap they released ( just as in the case of “hard target” which anyone who’s seen the workprint knows that region 1 release DOES NOT do the movie justice). 
    These theatrical releases are ridiculous! Honestly who do they think they’re doing a favor to?! Whats the point of releasing half a movies? because frankly thats what the studios do! People can handle a bit of violence and lengthy actions scenes. I mean what is this the 1920’s?! Give us a break and release the UNCUT FULL VERSION to ALL action movies! There is no logic behind these cuts, they might as well had just not made the movies. Oh, and we also desperately need an UNCUT Face/Off. Peace