Written by Old Bluffer 8th May 2006
After countless unoriginal action sequences piled on top of each other we reach the predictable final encounter between Davian and Hunt.
Witnessing the struggle is Hunt's new wife, and she is tied up in in a typical "damsel in distress" pose, which we would have hoped would have fallen out of fashion in cinema at around the time colour film was invented - oh well.
As is usual in these situations, the villain would appear to have the advantage. In this case, Davian is about 100 lbs heavier than the hero-munchkin that is Tom Cruise, and for added fun, has activated an explosive device in Hunt's skull (actually up his nose). For some reason, the charge takes about four minutes to explode, during which time the victim endures a severe migraine. Presumably the designers of this weapon debated whether or not to configure the bomb to go off instantly, or whether to allow enough time for the victim to go on a suicidal rampage once they knew they were about to die anyway. Common sense was obviously discarded in favour of the more amusing option.
So, not only is Hunt physically outmatched, he is also almost incapacitated with pain. This allows Davian to get in the full quota of kicks, punches and throws which is almost de rigueur for this kind of encounter.
Once we have seen Hunt receive the kind of battering that would see any normal mortal's bones splintered and internal organs pulped to jelly, Davian tells him that he is going to kill his wife in front of him. That Hunt needed to win the fight in order to save her life was surely never in any doubt, but this despicable threat is just what is needed for the camera to zoom in on Cruise's attempt at a grimace of sheer rage, and clutching his sore head with his hands, he proceeds to use implausible elbow strikes to overpower his bulky nemesis and easily manhandle him backwards out into the street.
Then, before you can say "scientology is a load of bollocks", a car smashes Davian off of Hunt, leaving only an expensive shoe in its wake (Hunt escapes being mowed down by virtue of being so ickle).
I've rated this death as "unsatisfactory" for several reasons.
First of all, for the sheer poorness of the fight choreography. The size disparity between the two combatants opened up all sorts of nice possibilities to show how a smaller man can defeat someone twice his size. Presumably Cruise's ego curtailed this though, as in his mind he probably towers over Hoffman. The fight therefore ignores such minor details as mass and inertia, with the result that it is hopelessly generic. The film makers could, in fact, have just blanked the screen for two minutes and put up a single caption saying "Fight Scene (Tom Cruise wins)" and my imagination would have crafted more exciting imagery (although Cruise would have been unlikely to win in my version).
Secondly, Philip Seymour Hoffman is actually excellent in his role as a super baddie. His voice is a semitone lower than John Goodman's, which would appear to be the perfect pitch for delivering evil lines. He is also utterly fearless, to the extent that when captured and threatened by Hunt, all he does under interrogation is explain his revenge plans in concise yet intricate detail. Simply put, his character deserved a more satisfying end.
I will finish this review with a short rant about what a pile of toss this film was. The lack of any kind of coherent plot was no shock - even the script made fun of the MacGuffin nature of the "Rabbit's Paw" device (at the end of the film, Hunt asks "What does the Rabbit's Paw do?" and is told something along the lines of "One day, I might just tell you").
More damningly though, even for a Mission Impossible film, the lack of any kind of soul, characterisation or originality was disappointing (although no more so than the previous installment). The only lasting memory I will have of this film is Maggie Q in a red dress. Hmmm, maybe it wasn't a total waste of money after all...