Fluff, anyone? Mindless fun was on tap all weekend as two intentionally shallow martial-art-fueled flicks, Mission: Impossible 2 and Shanghai Noon, opened to huge box office rewards. With little meaning or depths to plumb, Christian critics were left to debate the entertainment merit of the action sequences and the degree of moral offense in such violence.

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Mission: Impossible 2 proved an even hotter attraction than its 1996 predecessor, grossing $92.8 million in its first six days (vs. $74.9 million for the original). The addition of director John Woo, known for his intensely choreographed action sequences, was partly responsible for the added allure. He certainly got Preview's Paul Bicking enthused:

"Woo doesn't disappoint as he takes the helm of this exciting adventure. … The action is non-stop, with unbelievable stunts, incredible chases and spectacular scenery." But other Woo fans disagreed. "He's one of my favorite directors," says Holly McClure of Crosswalk.com, "but I felt it lacked something, and it's not as great as it could have been." Jeffrey Overstreet of Green Lake Reflections echoes those sentiments, complaining that Woo "borrows heavily from his previous work" and can't overcome the "lousy script." The script in question follows superspy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) of the Impossible Mission Force as he uses cool gadgets and talent at charming young ladies to save the world from a turncoat IMF agent who threatens to unleash a deadly virus. "If this sounds like the average James Bond movie," quips Focus on the Family's Bob Smithouser, "you're not far off. [But] unlike James Bond, who abuses his license to kill at the slightest provocation, Ethan Hunt resists murdering people unless it is an absolutely necessary ...

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