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Revenge of the Rubber Masks:
A Review of "Mission: Impossible 2"

by Margaret T. Minnick

What is the deal with the rubber masks in movies these days? You know the ones -- A character pretends to be someone else by wearing a rubber mask that makes him/her (usually him) look just like the actor playing the other character. But really, it's just the other actor on screen until that totally fake-looking moment when the character reaches across their face, starts peeling their skin from one side of their jaw, and then ... presto! the mask comes off and it's really the other guy! Gee, we never saw that coming.

These identity-swapping masks are used so much in movies these days that the makers of Mission: Impossible 2 didn't even think it was necessary to explain them, even in the most passing way. They are presented in a very cavalier, "this-is-an-everyday-thing" way, which makes me think they must have sat down together and decided: "These rubber mask things have been used so much that audiences probably think that they really exist, and need no explanation, even though they're totally fictitious." Or, even more frightening, the makers of the movie may actually be so immersed in the movie world that they themselves think that the masks really exist. I'm willing to bet on the latter.

Well, however it happened, the folks behind this movie got really, really mask-happy -- so mask-happy, in fact, that almost every major plot twist in the entire film involves the use of a rubber mask. The movie rating people should have invented a new rating for this movie, like when they invented NC-17 for Henry & June. It could be called RM, to warn the audience of the excessive use of Rubber Masks.

Well, I guess I've got to move on past the rubber mask stuff now.

This movie was pretty standard action stuff, with some wholesale James Bond rip-offs thrown in for good measure. Tom Cruise plays the main spy guy, Ethan Hunt, who is very good at rock-climbing and aerobatics, and knows some kung-fu as well. For this role, Tom sported a very seventies hairdo, reminiscent of Mark Hamill in Star Wars. Not a good choice, in my opinion, but then I am hardly a member of the fashion elite, as they say.

Tom courts a lovely lady named Nyah, played by Thandie Newton, by engaging in a car chase with her on some twisty mountain roads. After causing many spinal cord injuries to the other drivers, they hop into bed and are promptly madly in love. I think that they just xeroxed some pages from a 007 script and pasted them in for this part of the movie.

Then Tommy gets his mission from his boss, played by Sir Anthony Hopkins. It was kind of exciting, and unexpected, to see Sir pop up on screen, what with the sequel to Silence of the Lambs coming to a theater near me soon. I was sort of hoping that he'd take a bite out of little Tommy's face, if you know what I mean.

Tommy's mission involves hoe-ing his new lady to the evil bad guy, played by the funny-looking Dougray Scott who played the prince in Drew Barrymore's version of Cinderella. Old Dougray gets wise to this scheme pretty quickly, though, and dresses up in a Tom Cruise mask to fool Nyah (the reason doesn't matter). She is none the wiser, which seems a little far-fetched to me because even though Dougray is wearing the Tom mask, he still has the Dougray body. It seems like a woman who has had sex with both of these men would be able to tell the difference between their bodies, especially with all the clutching and clinging she does. But I guess I wasn't supposed to think about that.

The rest of the movie is all big explosions, evil man monologues, and about 10 million slow-motion sequences. I think John Woo has gone a little too far with the slow-mos. I mean, it was understandable to use it in the movies he made in Hong Kong because those plots are so incomprehensible that it doesn't matter how much time is wasted on slow-mos. But I think that in this case some character development, or patching up of plot holes, would have probably done a lot more for the film than the slow-mos do.

There was really very little suspense involved, because I knew the moment Tom Cruise walked on screen that when all the rubber masks had been removed, and all the explosions and car chases were over and done with, Tommy would kill the evil man and get the girl. And now you know, too!


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Is it the real Tom Cruise or Rubber Mask Tom Cruise???

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