29 April 2013

A Close Shave

I had one issue with the film Trance and there's a possibility that it may just be my own unique problem. There's a scene in it where right before having sex, a character temporarily stops the risky business to go and shave off her pubes. I don't know about you but to me this just seemed a little bit weird. I can understand wanting to impress someone before shooting body juice at them but how about a bit of forethought? There's nothing wrong with shaving, but to do it in the next room and four seconds before shagging is a little bit weird. Having said that, maybe this is just an issue for me- firstly I was in the Scouts and so know to always be prepared. Secondly, shaving my pubes when I was seventeen is probably one of the most traumatic things that I have ever done.

This, with a dick...
I don't know what made me do it but I'm thinking that I probably got bored after shaving my face. The procedure was not as simple as I'd assumed though and as I grated away at my raw, bloodied skin, I started to realise that the blunt disposable razor may have been a mistake. To make things even more annoying, the final results didn't even look that good. I was hoping for porn star smoothness but instead it just made my crotch look like the arse end of a pink, uncooked chicken with the dick just sort of.. stuck on, for comedic effect. Also, seconds after completion, I began to notice the arrival of itching. I scratched so much that it looked as though I'd had a blowjob from some snaggle toothed freak like the Predator or Madonna, and it fucking hurt.

In a panic, I frantically rooted through the bathroom cabinet until I found a white lotion that looked as though it might help to calm things down. As a test I splashed it all over my cheeks and was elated to discover that it did indeed seem to stop the urge to scratch. Therefore without hesitation I emptied the bottle all over my crotch leaving nothing to chance. Thankfully it worked and everything felt instantly better. Breathing a sigh of relief I sat down and for a moment assumed the ordeal was over. Then my face began to sting. The panic set in. I don't know what the hell that lotion was but I knew I now had seconds to wipe it off everywhere else, as well… Too. Slow. Quickly I found myself writhing around on the floor like a dying maggot as my balls felt like they'd been dipped in battery acid. With all this in mind, it is, like I say, probably only me that is going to care about the pube scene in Trance. However on the bright side, other than it inconsiderately bringing up my past horrors, the rest of the film is thankfully absolutely brilliant.

Perhaps I should say up front that my reasons for loving Trance can probably be attributed to my love of both Danny Boyle and also the mischievous, magical imp that is Derren Brown. Boyle obviously directed this mind-fuck of a movie whereas Brown, as far as I know, had absolutely nothing to do with it. I guess I'll explain his relevance in a bit, however the basic plot of Trance is that James McAvoy loses his memory causing him to forget where he has hidden a valuable, stolen painting. Unfortunately for him the gangster Vincent Cassel wants to find it and so sets about torturing him. After realising that pulling off someone’s fingernails isn't a medically proven way to cure amnesia, Cassel instead has McAvoy undergo Rosario Dawson’s hypnotherapy in an attempt to make him remember. Imagine a kind of cross between The Usual Suspects and Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind and that's kind of what this film is.

Will forever be known for wanking to death
From reading other reviews, it seems that the response to Trance has been mostly positive. However the one criticism that appears to be the most repeated is that none of the characters are completely sympathetic. Although I agree with that statement to a degree, I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. For example- and I'll try and keep this vague, but I have a friend whose family member is an absolute twat. However I love hearing stories about their miserable relative just because I don't understand how someone can be so fucking annoying. Hearing about the person in question is a bit like having one of those bruises that hurts to touch but for some reason you just can't help but poke it every now and again. However with Trance I would argue that although the characters are all morally corrupt, I can, by the end, empathise with at least two of them. I don't agree with what they're doing but that's not to say I can't see why they're doing it and pity them for suffering the consequences. It's a bit like how I feel bad for David Carradine because of his stupid death even though I personally would never string myself up and knock one out onto the back of a grubby wardrobe door.

The second main criticism the film has received is that a few people have commented that the third act gets a little muddled. However again, I disagree with this and actually attribute their observations as again being a result of the unsympathetic characters. It's not the case that what you’re watching doesn't make any sense, but rather you have no fucking clue as to who you should be rooting for. A testament to this might be that one of my friends who I was watching this with became so overwhelmed with what was going on that her brain became mashed and she just broke down in tears. It's not that the end is particularly sad but rather it's so powerful that all she could do to cope was to have a cry. Although personally I didn't react quite so emotionally, I can see how it happened. Again when I was about seventeen my Mum tried to make me change the trousers I'd put on and I just couldn't be bothered. Whenever I wake up in the morning I'm seriously a full on menstrual wreck and this happened to happen a few seconds after I'd opened my eyes. I didn't want to change my pants but my Mum just nagged and nagged and nagged until all I could do was sit there and sob. I guess the film had the same effect on her where things just become too much and the only way the body can reasonably respond is by having a minor breakdown.

So happy that I've seen his balls.
Like I say though, I'm a huge Danny Boyle fan with my all-time-favourite-film being Trainspotting. If we look at his filmography, I guess it seems that he actually often tells stories about unsympathetic people and so it shouldn't come as a shock that this is also the case with Trance. Examples of Boyle's antihero's might be Renton in Trainspotting who is a junkie, Richard in The Beach who is very self-centred and Franck in Trance who is French. Also looking at his back catalogue, it's interesting to note that this new film probably bears the most similarities with his debut feature Shallow Grave. Both films could be considered neo-noirs, center around three mysterious characters and involve the hunt for stolen goods. They both also feature a likeable Scottish actor in the lead and have a few surprising moments of full frontal nudity. For the record though, if we have to have nudity in films I do much prefer it being Rosario Dawson to Keith fucking Allan.

I guess it's about now that I should explain the casual reference to Derren Brown that I made earlier. I'm not sure how famous he is around the world but for those who are yet to discover him, he's been described as an illusionist, mentalist, hypnotist and after seeing some of his shows I'm pretty sure he could take over the world if he wanted to. The reason I mention him as a reason for enjoying Trance is because it's the kind of film that explores some of the ideas that I probably wouldn’t believe if it wasn't for Brown and all of his evil shenanigans. The driving force of Trance is the subject of hypnosis which previously I'd dismissed as bullshit. I guess I'd only seen cheap holiday camp hypnotists that claim to have magical powers and just assumed that they picked the biggest, drunkest wankers from the audience and then paid them a few quid backstage to play along.

Don't look into his eyes!
However from being drawn into Brown’s work, I've really had my eyes opened. For a start, hypnosis isn't about 'magic' but rather suggestibility and from my limited understanding, will only affect those who are receptive enough for it to work. I'm sure there will be people out there who will have seen a little of Brown’s talents and dismissed him, and therefore hypnosis, as bollocks but they're wrong. Brown definitely doesn’t use stooges during his live events and in fact picks people at random by launching frisbees at the audience. I was actually at his latest show Infamous recently when one of his frisbees flew straight towards me. Thankfully though and despite the closeness I came to shitting my pants, it was expertly caught by someone in the row in front. It's not that I don't want to get involved but I was actually also at his previous show Svengali in which he worked out that a young lad in the audience's biggest secret was that he'd wanked off in school. To make matters worse, the guy in question was at the show that night with all of his classmates and teachers whilst on a school trip. It's not that I don't mind sharing my secrets to a room of thousands of strangers but just that I fear the darkness in me might grim people out or kill the mood.

So he doesn't use actors but could hypnosis be a result of bribing an extroverted fucktard? At one point in the evening, Brown made everybody stand up so that he could hypnotise those who were open to it. Although I remained unaffected, there was a man sitting right behind me that despite not looking like a wanker was very much in a trance. The guy looked like a normal middle aged bloke and even though he was stood up was so fast asleep that he began to loudly snore. In fact he was genuinely under so deeply that at one point I was waiting to feel his slobber dribble down my neck. I won't say any more about the show because Brown asked us not to and I fear that if I do my head will explode Scanners style, or something will trigger and I'll be forced to live the rest of my life believing myself to be a middle-aged Dutch whore. I guess though, my point is simply that thanks to Derren Brown providing me with a new found fascination with this subject, I could more easily buy into Trance's central hook. To be honest, I'd learn how to hypnotise people myself if I thought I could be trusted enough to not just use it as a sort of thinking man’s method of date rape.

With all this in mind, a lot of Trance therefore takes place in the fucked up memories of McAvoy's damaged brain. The fun of the film therefore isn't in knowing the story but experiencing the skill in which it's told. A classic trait of a noir is obviously the unreliable narrator with this being no exception, and with Memento perhaps being of a similar ilk. However, as well as borrowing elements of a noir, Trance also kind of feels like a bit of a call back to those seedy erotic thrillers from back in the 90's. I guess that, like Basic Instinct or Bound, the film has the intelligence to keep us guessing, but at the same time has no qualms with the occasional flash of minge.

..fuck, it opened..
After taking time off to direct the Olympics, my opinion is that this is a hugely triumphant return to cinema for Danny Boyle. It's not that I didn't enjoy his ceremony because I did. Anything that involves both James Bond and having the Queen thrown out of an aeroplane is easily going to grab my interest. Although, I couldn't help but think it would have been an even more memorable evening had her majesty’s parachute failed to open resulting in the most patriotic suicide of all time. My only issue is that we all only have a certain amount of life in us and I selfishly want Boyle to spend all of his making movies. Boyle makes optimistic films about flawed human beings which in this fucked up society is the kind of hope my warped mind likes to cling to. Now, seems as hypnotherapy is seemingly so effective, I'm going to book myself in and finally remove the traumatic memory of my grated pubes.

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22 April 2013

Getting Back On Track

In Mission: Impossible 3, Ethan Hunt is no longer a field agent having instead decided to become an IMF trainer. I often wonder what actors draw from for a role but when Tom Cruise plays a man who trains people in the secrets of a slightly sinister and shadowy organisation, I think I can pretty much guess. However he's roped back in to going out on missions when his most prized student is captured by Philip Seymour Hoffman, which just goes to show how good a teacher he must have been if the person who’s learnt the most from him can be captured by Truman Capote. I assume whilst this is going on, his worst student is getting stabbed to death by Julie Andrews with a butterfly knife.

Sadly, his protégées rescue doesn't quite go to plan as the villains have stuck an exploding-bomb thing in her head and Hunt incompetently forgot to check for it. This exploding-bomb thing basically causes her to get a sharp pain in her brain resulting in excruciating agony followed by death and an embarrassingly gozzy eye. If you can't imagine it from that description, then the whole process plays out very much like my actions after a few days without jizzing

It's not just the whispers that are careless.
The rest of the film then involves Hunt running around after a presumably dangerous device known as the Rabbit’s Foot. As a sort of in-joke however, we're never told what this thing actually is. Instead the filmmakers make no attempt to hide the fact that it's a MacGuffin and so exists solely to move the plot along. I should explain for anybody unaware of the term that famously, other examples of a MacGuffin might be the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, the stolen money in Psycho and a kebab/cock combo in the life of George Michael.

No Touching!
In his search for the Rabbit’s Foot, there's one point when Hunt and his team are forced to break into Vatican city to collect clues. The way they do this is very exciting and involves exploding cars, climbing high walls and impressive security disabling devices. Maybe that's how you had to do that back when the film was released in 2006 but these days it's a piece of piss to break into Peado-Land. Either Cruise can use his height to his advantage and dress up as a bleeding choir boy with a limp or now I reckon you could just dress up as a fake Pope. Ever since Pope Palpatine retired and Pope Jeffrey Tambor took over there must be so many new faces there that it's easy to lose track of whatever creepy bigot is now in charge.

However they instead decide to try a different technique of disguising Hunt with a Philip Seymour Hoffman mask. Personally I think this is probably my favourite scene in the film just because of how it starts off ridiculous and then somehow ends up being shockingly amazing. Basically the camera stays on Cruise as he puts on an obviously crappy Leatherface style mask and then smoothes out the corners to somehow become the villain. It's kind of like visiting a magician when one second he's doing shitty card tricks and the next you're so impressed by something they've done that you have to stab them in the heart and burn them at the stake for witchcraft. This then leads to a really cool scene in which Hunt-in-the-mask fights the real man he's pretending to be. So basically what you're left with is a chubby smack-down between two Philip Seymour Hoffmans. Considering an actor fighting himself has happened in such quality films as Double Impact and The 6th Day it's good to see that the star of The Master is as good an actor as the Muscles from Brussels and the Austrian Pervert.

I'm pretty sure that's Jeffrey Jones in suave-paedo mode.
Speaking of The Master, anybody who knows anything about it will be aware that it's a story involving a creepy brainwashing cult that definitely isn't scientology. In that film, Hoffman plays a confident but deluded control freak who coincidentally shares several qualities with L. Ron Hubbard or as he's known, The Captain of the Bullshit Enterprise. It's therefore quite fun to watch a scene later on where Hoffman kicks the living crap out of Hunt. Having seen The Master and knowing about Cruises's love for that weird alien fan club, it's quite fun to pretend that we're watching him being punished by his loving leader for breaking one of their commandments. I don't know if Scientology has any commandments but if they do then I'd have to guess they include, “Thou shall give us all of your money”, followed by “Thou shall not see us for what we are”.

Kidnapping is like a blind-date, only with more surprises...
Aside from Hoffman however another significant addition to the franchise is that of Michelle Monaghan who, as always, is brilliant. I mean she's basically playing the same sassy character that she does in every film she's in but I've decided that I love her so fuck you! In fact, my appreciation for her goes further than simply being a fan and quite deeply into a creepy kind of belief that we should be spending our lives together. Some people sadly never find their soul mate whereas I have to accept that if I did ever meet mine she would definitely issue a restraining order against me and to be fair, I wouldn't blame her.

Although she plays a minor role in this film, her involvement actually alters the second half of the action. The Mission: Impossible Series had been criticised in the past for focusing on Cruises character rather than that of a team as the original television series had done. In the first half of this film however, we're finally treated to IMF working together in a group. That is until Hoffman crosses a huge line by kidnapping Monaghan who happens to be Hunts wife. After that act of shear unforgivable cuntishness, things settle back down into more of a Cruise centred film. I didn't watch the original series so as far as I'm concerned, these films can play it how they like. As long as someone is there to prevent any harm to the woman I'll one day stalk then I don't mind what they do.

So it's probably obvious by now that I think Mission: Impossible 3 is really great fun. Considering the last film dribbled out from the arsehole of boredom, this was the adrenaline shot to the balls that this series really needed. Of course, the man who can be credited for this sudden rise in quality is J.J. Abrams who seems to be making a career out of resurrecting the bloated, grey corpses of previously murdered franchises. Thankfully, he realised that these films are all about a constant barrage of set pieces and silliness and so quickly delivered like a postman on crack. I'm not sure what film he's working on right now but I suspect it'll be quite small after burdening himself with something as big as Star Trek Into Darkness. Whatever low budget film he's presumably mulling over, I wish him all the best of luck and may the force be with him, always!

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15 April 2013

Ding Dong The Witch Was Killed

The Wizard of Oz is a film that most people experience during their childhood. Sadly though, it has taken me until the age of twenty-four to catch up with it. I'm not sure what it says about modern society that I've once fallen asleep whilst stoned and mid-tug before having an opportunity to see this classic but personally I'd always blame the parents. People who saw it as a youngster often talk about how scary it is with the evil witch and flying monkeys and- they're sort of right. The film is scary, but not for those reasons. Before killing his victims, Jeffrey Dahmer liked to drill holes in their heads and melt their brains with acid. I suspect the fevered hallucinations those poor people would have suffered before being raped and eaten would have looked something like this film. For a kids movie, The Wizard of Oz isn't half fucked up...

Fucking lock it in the cellar.
The film starts in Kansas and introduces us to some antisocial bitch called Dorothy. Having allowed her dog to maul an innocent member of the public, the stroppy little mare runs away to hang out with a magical man that in no way came across like a paedophile. Having never seen Judy Garland in anything before, when listening to her sing and hearing what sounded like Liza Minnelli's voice come out of her mouth, I couldn't help but be reminded of The Exorcist. After the song ended I wasn't sure whether to applaud or throw holy water at the screen… thanks to good old English reserve though, I obviously did neither. Still, as first impressions go, both Garland and her little dog Toto do give fairly good performances. In fact I would say I liked Toto so much that he's probably become my favourite movie dog since seeing Lassie in Lassie, Beethoven in Beethoven and Madonna in Die Another Day.

Unfortunately, things go a little wrong for Dorothy when she's caught in the middle of a tornado. Quickly, she runs back home where she receives a bump on the head and is knocked unconscious. From this point on the film is ambiguously either depicting a fantastical journey into a magical land or more likely the dying dreams of a teenager with a brain haemorrhage. Whichever you believe however, what we see is the wind lift up her house and fly away with it. A while back, a close friend of mine was telling me the top five places he'd been sick, with the number one spot being an aeroplane runway after landing at an American airport. I think he liked that whilst the yanks would kiss the ground of their beloved country the first thing he as a Brit did was puke over it. In terms of disrespect however, Dorothy goes one further with her arrival in Oz and promptly sets about killing people.

Benjamin Button on the right.
The first of Dorothy's victims in this new world is The Wicked Witch of the East who was crushed beneath the falling house. Now, I know that this was clearly an accident but considering that somebody has just died, Dorothy acts as though she couldn't give a fuck. If I unintentionally stand on a snail I'm overcome by waves of guilt but this pigtailed psychotic shows so little concern that you'd only conclude that she was a fucking sociopath. Instead of suffering any negative consequence to this however, the local residents instead simply applaud her vigilantism as though she's just ripped down a statue of Saddam Hussain and rubbed her genitals in its face. I should point out that these locals are known as Munchkins and look a bit like a gumpy race of children born in the aftermath of a nuclear apocalypse.

In an attempt to flee the crime scene, Dorothy decides that she wants to go home. To do this however she is told by Glinda the Good Witch that she must visit the respected Wizard of Oz. Personally I'm not sure if I'd trust Glinda considering she looks like a Scouse alcoholic enduring a particularly painful comedown but Dorothy decides to listen anyway. The instruction that she receives is to simply follow the Yellow Brick Road which, to be fair, sounds easy enough until it turns out to be longer than the fucking M6. By the time she's gotten to the end of it, she's befriended a brainless Scarecrow, a cowardly Lion and most worryingly, a Tin Man without a heart. I say most worryingly because unlike Dorothy, I've seen The Terminator and so know to stay well away from any axe wielding sentient cyborg that openly admits to being heartless.

"Killing makes me sticky"
Eventually, they reach the Emerald City which looks like a racist’s depiction of Ireland and they finally meet the Wizard. He says that he will help the girl get home to Kansas but only if she'll steal him a broom belonging to The Wicked Witch of The West. To cut a long story short, Dorothy has no qualms with this and so casually trots off to commit yet more crime. However if killers such as Ted Bundy and Peter Sutcliffe have taught us anything, it's that just like Pringles or heroin, killing people can be a little addictive. Having gotten the taste for it earlier on, Dorothy can't just steal the old lady’s broom but has to murder the shit out of her too. Once again the nutter form Kansas claims yet another victim and once again she does so with a glazed, unaffected look in her cold, soulless eyes.

Having said that, I do have a few questions about the death of the Wicked Witch of the West with the main one being, err what the fuck? If you can be killed by something as simple as a bucket of water, don't keep a bucket of fucking water lying around… which is assuming that it was even water in that first place. At no point does anybody confirm that's what it is, so for all we know Dorothy has just casually flung a load of acid into the old hags face. Kind of like when religious people go mental and punish their daughters for not agreeing to an arranged marriage. For what is supposed to be a kid’s film, I once again can't help but find Dorothy's lack of empathy somewhat disturbing. If you like the idea of a film which is an exact cross between Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and Taxi Driver then I strongly recommend The Wizard of Oz.

Like I say though, although it's taken me a long time to get around to this film, I'm happy to report that I enjoyed it. I really loved the vivid imagery and the ambiguity between what is either a dream or reality. I was obviously fully aware of every aspect of the story due to it's seepage into popular culture but it was still a treat to see the original in all its glory. In fact it contains so many iconic moments that it has been homaged in things as diverse as The Simpsons, Wild At Heart, Life on Mars and the absolute classic porno The Wizard of Ass. Actually just as a slight tangent but whilst we're on the subject, any fans of that last example should definitely also check out the epic Chitty Chitty Gang Bang. They actually make a great double feature assuming you have enough tissues to get through them and then cry at how shit your life is.

Thinking about it, although I did enjoy The Wizard of Oz, I think I appreciate it just because of how much I love the things that it's inspired. One thing that surprised me for example was how much of Star Wars I could see in it. The second Witch’s death looked kind of like Obi Wan's in terms of an empty cloak falling to the ground. The Emerald City's Gate was similar to Jabba's Palace's with its small peep hole to allow interrogation and perhaps light cottaging. The scene where the Munchkins proclaim Dorothy as a hero was like when the Ewoks decide C3PO is their God. The Wizard’s floating head converses like a giant hologram reminiscent of how Palpatine chats to Vader. Oh, and after their films release, both Judy Garland and Carrie Fisher had a merry descent into alcoholism which was cheerfully topped of with a dangerously expensive smack habit.

"I do not take Political Prisoners!"
If I have any criticism of the film it's that perhaps the pace is a little bit laborious at times. Beyond the Yellow Brick Road, which was such a long walk that I'm surprised Peter Jackson hasn't tried to adapt it into a trilogy, there was also all of the exposition. It wasn't enough to have someone just tell us the plot but instead they had to repeat it over and over and over again. “We're going to see the Wizard! He will know what to do because he's a Wizard and we're going to see him by going to the Emerald City to get some answers from the Wizard... who we're going to see”. I know some films like to spoon feed their audience the plot but this goes one further and holds our nose closed so it can shovel information in Bobby Sands-hunger-strike style. Speaking of which, I promise it is a complete coincidence that I chose to do a blog on The Wizard of Oz in the same week that Thatcher has died. Genuinely it was. For anybody unaware of the connection, her death has prompted our great public to go out in their droves and buy copies of the song Ding Dong The Witch is Dead. I know that she was both equally loved and reviled and so in an attempt to please everybody, I'll keep my own views on the community-destroying replicant to myself.

If you've not seen this film then I do strongly recommend it. Not only does it deserve its place as a classic, but Dorothy may also be one of the greatest anti-heroes along with Hannibal Lector, Patrick Bateman and Norman Bates. If you want something that could psychologically damage a child then this is certainly more legal than allowing Grandpa to flash them. If only more films would display the same level of creativity, then cinema would be in a much healthier state. I hear if you listen to Pink Floyd's Dark of the Moon whilst watching The Wizard of Oz then you'll notice that they coincidentally synch up. Also by coincidence if whilst watching a Michael Bay film you listen to that same album and then decide to turn the television off and stare blankly at a wall you'll actually have a much better time. 

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8 April 2013

Let's Get Lost

Mission Impossible 2 starts with Agent Hunt hanging dangerously high up on the side of a cliff face. When I was in school, I rarely tried during physical education classes because I didn't give a shit and I'm allergic to pain. However there was this one time that they got some ropes out and tried to make us climb up to the ceiling. I watched the little fuckers in my class showing off by scuttling up them and so decided I'd prove just how easy it was. I jumped up at the rope, grabbed on and began to heave myself up. The teacher presumably shocked by my sudden effort began to cheer me on in a bid to encourage me to keep going. Genuinely surprised at how well I was doing I started climbing higher and higher and higher. Sadly though this boost in confidence was short lived and things suddenly got difficult. Deciding I'd proved my point, I gave up and like a fucking idiot just completely let go of the rope.

I hovered in mid-air for about a second which was enough time to realise that I was probably meant to climb down safely... and then I began to fall. As I plunged towards certain death I was preparing for the inevitable splatter of my exploding corpse when to my surprise I landed comfortably on my feet. Despite having just performed an almost superhuman display of rope climbing it turned out I'd actually only gotten about four inches off the ground before thinking, 'fuck this', and attempting suicide. This is just one of the many reasons that I am not Tom Cruise.

...Something has gone wrong..
People think that Cruise is mental because he worships aliens and belongs to a mad cult. But in reality he's actually mental because as this opening sequence proves he's clearly got a fucking death wish. Despite the success of the first film it's obvious that the main reason for Agent Hunts return is so that Cruise can see just how far he can push himself before being killed in some horrific accident. I say it's obvious as his him doing a few stunts is pretty much the only thing that's carried over from the first film. This has a different cast, director, belongs to a slightly different genre and also unlike its predecessor, it’s massively shite. If the first movie was a great night of cheap cider and mystery-meat kebabs then this second one is very much the next mornings miserable ritual of puking into your hands because the toilet's too far away.

After the twisty, complicated story of Mission Impossible, the sequel sadly decided to dumb itself down so that anything advanced enough to grow fingernails would be able to follow it. I know action films can be stupid but this seriously makes The Transporter Series look like Kieślowski's Three Colours Trilogy in terms of its importance and ambition. The story this time involves a rogue IMF agent stealing a lethal disease called Chimera and that's pretty much it. Presumably because Chimera sounds like a particularly itchy STD, Hunt is tasked with retrieving it which turns out to be about as exciting as watching an old man attempt a four hour yawn whilst scratching his balls.

"Numbers go up to three-hundred?"
In order to accomplish the mission, Thandi Newton is recruited because she's the bad guy’s ex-girlfriend and IMF wants her to fuck the answers out of him. Newton plays a master thief who is so painfully thin that her stealthiness has to be attributed to the fact that she's ninety-percent nonexistent. Also speaking of the villain, he is played by Dougray Scott who here displays about as much acting range as a wet turnip that's been rolled around a barber shop floor. Imagine Gerard Butler but after he's screamed out all of his charisma and had a bump on his already lobotomised head and Dougray Scott is pretty much what you'll be left with.

"Your mission, should you choose to accept it..."
Whilst we're listing cast members it's also worth noting that in the last Mission Impossible blog I pointed out that the idea of spies constantly ripping realistic masks off  their face was a bit Hannibal Lector. Well it turns out I was right as everybody’s favourite psychopath turns up here as Ethan Hunts boss. To be honest I guess being a secret agent would explain how Lector was able to escape a maximum security prison and remain on the run for years afterwards. Hannibal wasn't a genius but rather trained and possibly being protected by the fucking Government. With his youth and skill on his side, if Jason Bourne ever got the taste for face then I think we'd all be fucked.

The film itself was directed by John Woo who’s had a bit of a schizophrenic career over the last few decades. On the one hand he's the director of such action classics as Hardboiled and The Killer but then on the other he also helmed such forgettable clag-nuts as Paycheck and Windtalkers. Sadly Mission Impossible 2 falls into the crappy half of his portfolio and I think I've figured out why. All of his good films where made in China whereas the rubbish ones began when he started working in Hollywood. The problem with this film isn't the action which, as expected from him, is all very fast paced and over the top. It's how long it takes set pieces to turn up and how boring the bits in between are. Like all of Woo's American films, the script is just fucking dull. Maybe- and this is just a theory... but maybe he just can't read English very well. Perhaps this looked like a good script because he only recognised words like, “bang” and “punches”. Perhaps he also misunderstand stage directions such as, “an unbelievable fight scene” and took it very much at face value. Not that I'm slagging him off as I couldn't even attempt to read Chinese with each of their words just looking like a dodgy market version of a sportswear logo.

But where did the dog turd go?
Ultimately though the biggest sin of Mission Impossible 2 is in what it seeks its inspiration from. The previous film clearly borrowed elements from Hitchcock whereas this one unforgivably takes notes from Michael Bay. If ever a film is destined to fail then it's when it aspires to meet the offensively low standards achieved by Bay’s turgid back catalogue of braindead bollocks. There's no doubting that Mission Impossible 2 feels more like Armageddon than North by Northwest which is a huge shame. For proof of that just check out the overly dramatic scene near the end when Hunt confronts the bad guy and you'll see what I mean. He walks into the room following a glowing white dove whilst the villain’s eyes reflect a fire in the room. The scene has all the subtly of a kick to the tits and is sadly more forced than a quick fist up the poop-hoop. If this franchise was an act on a talent show then the sequel would be like watching someone follow Penn and Teller by making some dog shit disappear by eating it. After two long hours the last line of the film is Cruise turning to Newton and romantically saying, “Let's get lost”. Considering that by now they have physically bored the nipples off me, I actually couldn't agree more.

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