Mission: Implausible

In The Battle Between Cute And Handsome, Which Face Will Prevail?

I WOULD LOVE to be as visually appealing as Tom Cruise. Imagine you could just bat your eyelashes and an enormous Hollywood studio would fall all over itself to present you with a hundred-million-dollar vanity piece, replete with wide-screen closeups of your anguished but still desperately cute face.

Mission Impossible: 2 is all Cruise--he's in almost every shot, and when you don't see him, you see somebody pulling off a rubber Tom Cruise face-mask, just to remind you that he's still in the movie.

His character, Ethan Hunt, has been named top agent at the Impossible Mission Force largely on the basis of his cuteness. That, and his uncanny ability to withstand explosions.

Called away from his vacation of posing majestically in the Arizona desert, Hunt is told that his services are urgently needed: there's an extremely cute female jewel thief who needs seducing. Although loath to take on such a dangerous mission, Hunt's sense of obligation towards God, Country and Tail forces him to go into the dangerous realm of cruising for hot leg.

The jewel thief, Nyah Nordoff-Hall, is played by the unbearably cute Thandie Newton, who's so cute that she must be the best jewel thief in the whole world. Hunt makes the moves on Nyah by getting into a high-speed car chase with her and wrecking her Porsche. Apparently, unsafe driving is a real turn-on, because they immediately do it in the flaming wreckage of her elegant sports car.

But, in a sinister twist, it turns out that the head of IMF didn't want Hunt to bag Nyah for himself, but rather so she could be recruited to get it on with Sean Ambrose, a turncoat IMF agent. Ambrose is played by Dougray Scott, who is handsome, not cute, and therefore must be evil.

Nyah must go to Australia, where Ambrose is hiding out with a stolen super-virus that he plans to unleash upon, well, I guess Australia. Hunt and his team gather their millions of dollars of equipment and head down under because they've already blown up everything everywhere else in the world, and the movie needs some more explosions.

Oddly, with all their high-tech equipment they can't come up with a good support bra for Nyah, who must jiggle about in a tight-fitting T-shirt for the next 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, Ambrose gets suspicious: why would someone as cute as Nyah go for him, since he's only handsome? Assuming it could only be because she's no longer working as a jewel thief, but has joined an international espionage team, he decides to keep doing her because she is practically Jesus Cute Incarnate, and besides, what's the point of unleashing a super-virus if you're not getting some booty from a woman who's spying on you?

Meanwhile, Hunt, who, being Tom Cruise, is not used to watching some other guy get a piece of his action, goes into heavy pouty mode. He vows to steal back the super-virus, break into the super-fortress of evil and retrieve the cute young thing he worked so hard to get over on.

Nyah is all for this, as she doesn't really like the constant sex with the evil Ambrose, but of course before she and Hunt can be reunited a lot of stuff needs to get blown up, and any number of really long chase sequences will have to be played out, because in the world of superspies, chases and explosions count as foreplay.

Movies like this always make me wonder where they get henchmen. All these supervillains are constantly surrounded by gun-toting henchmen whose main role in life seems to be to shoot at, but miss, the hero, and then get their asses kicked. Assuming that's the job description, I'd think it would be a hard position to fill in such a tight labor market.

Also, it seems that if you're a superspy, when you engage in any kind of high-tech hijinks, someone, somewhere, is narrating what you're doing. Like, Ambrose says, "Hunt won't take the direct routeähe'll come in through the roof," (shot of Hunt coming in through the roof), "he'd rather perform some insane stunt than come into contact with any of the security people," (shot of Hunt performing some insane stunt instead of just offing the unsuspecting security guy), "and I'm sure his hair will be perfect, but windblown" (shot of Hunt's perfect hair mysteriously becoming windblown while inside the super-fortress). If Ambrose knew all this one wonders why he didn't fare better against Hunt, who not only has the love of Nyah, the top position at IMF and the best hair, but also gets a lot more closeups than Ambrose.

But really, who can resist Tom Cruise? I imagine that M:I-2 will make producer/star Cruise enough money to cure cancer and put a man on the moon, and why shouldn't it? I mean, sure, it would be nice if all those hundreds of millions of dollars could be put into use to eliminate malaria or poison ivy or something, but isn't it just as important that we have pretty things to look at while the oceans rise and the ozone layer blows away and the oceans gum up with petrol? And what prettier thing is there than Tom Cruise doing a handstand on a speeding motorcycle while shooting a machine gun at an SUV full of bad guys? No really, what? A porpoise?

Mission: Impossible 2 is playing at Century El Con (202-3343), Century Gateway (792-9000), Century Park (620-0750), DeAnza (745-2240) and Foothills (742-6174) cinemas.

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