Posts Tagged ‘Matt Damon’

Jason Bourne

August 22, 2016

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Jason Bourne is the worst entry in the series to feature Matt Damon. I haven’t watched the Damonless The Bourne Legacy but Tony Gilroy wrote it so it probably has some moments. Gilroy also wrote the original trilogy but did not return for this run around the globe. It shows. Director Paul Greengrass attempts to make Bourne current by having a subplot about internet privacy but it just lays there on the screen, everyone tapping their toes wondering when Bourne is going to throw a guy off a roof. Don’t worry, that eventually happens.

I remain confounded by the popularity of the Bourne franchise. Sturdy, sure, but so damn dull. The original trilogy managed to deliver the same film three times, each one more efficiently than the last, with little sense of play or fun. Jason Bourne is a nothing character and he demands so little emotionally from Matt Damon. Yet, that wouldn’t matter if the films were better. But they are largely shots of screens and suits and people on cell phones barking the names of cities. The action is always shaky and blurry, the hint of movement with zero clarity. Why anyone would prefer this over even the worst James Bond or Mission Impossible film is the great mystery of our time. I have seen the argument that these films are “smart” but I think people just mean “serious” and “humorless”. Jason Bourne doesn’t joke, the people chasing after him don’t either. This is spy craft and espionage at it’s most dry. I will give the original trilogy credit: right when you start to glaze at the pointlessness of the plot, something crashes, someone is shot, Bourne kills someone with a magazine.

Jason Bourne picks up with Jason living off the grid and earning money as some kind of underground fighter. He is reintroduced taking out a guy with one punch(!) and then walking off, all bad ass. But then he starts feeling sad, because Jason Bourne has never felt cool ever, because he’s too busy either being confused or depressed. He gets contacted by good ol’ Julia Stiles to find out more about Operation Treadstone and Daddy Bourne’s involvement with it. This leads to the first action sequence of the movie, where Bourne and Julia ride around on a motorcycle, weaving around incredibly docile rioters. No one ever really gets in their way, but in typical Paul Greengrass style, at one point someone puts their leg right in front of the camera, because it isn’t an action shot if Greengrass can’t obscure the action with either a head or a limb or just shaking the camera until the image is a rusty blur. Eventually all this riding around comes to an end with the death of Stiles by a sniper’s bullet. This is a direct echo of Franka Potente’s death in The Bourne Supremacy, so if you’ve been looking for another woman to die for a man, Jason Bourne has you covered.

The action throughout Jason Bourne is consistent with this style, blink and you’ll miss it fights and impacts, and strangely blocked scenes that only work to frustrate a viewer trying to just see what the fuck is going on. The big finale in Las Vegas is just oh so very slightly clearer, but still an edit fest requiring you to basically guess where these cars are in relation to one another. It helps that they get stacked on top of each other a few times.

Jason Bourne is one of the more blatant money grab IP extenders of the summer, with no one in front or behind the camera caring about much besides hitting their marks and cashing a check. Tommy Lee Jones might be the most bored and evil character of all time. My man is fucking yawning at one point.

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Haywire

January 31, 2012

Get it, girl.

Steven Soderbergh has a reputation for good work because he only does things that interest him. He didn’t make Ocean’s Eleven because he wanted to make a bunch of money, he made it because he knew he could make a good movie. All of his projects come from a place of “This could be interesting, this could be good.” Does he always succeed? No. He is only human, like you and I, but I can not discount his intent. When it came time for Soderbergh to make an action movie he sought out an actress who could actually accomplish the feats all action movies require and we are all the better for it.

Haywire has been described as a Steven Seagal movie with a female lead. I don’t think everyone has used this comparison in a positive manner. Anyone who has taken time to watch the early theatrical Seagal films knows that those films rule and that Seagal, for a time, was unmatched. Is Steven Seagal a good actor? No, because he has no interest playing anyone but Steven Seagal. If Gina Carano spends the rest of her career playing variations on Gina Carano, a woman who kills people with her thighs, we as society should be so lucky.

The plot of Haywire is classic and simple. Carano has been betrayed by those she trusted and she has to beat and bludgeon her way to the truth. Written by Lem Dobbs, who also wrote The Limey, Haywire‘s story is told in a non-linear fashion which allows the film to start off with a bang and then double back to explain just how Carano found herself beating up Channing Tatum in a diner.

I love the way Soderbergh shoots his action so that it is clear and easy to follow. That last sentence is insane but the last ten years of action movies have made it so. Gina Carano can do all this running and kicking and punching so why hide it? Show your skills to world, make them jealous. Maybe that’s why audiences have come to accept the cut/cut/cut editing style; it let’s them know that what they are seeing isn’t real, Matt Damon can’t really kill a guy with a rolled up Time magazine and neither can they and that is Ok. Well America, Gina Carano can actually chase a man down, run up a wall and crush him with her leg muscles. Deal With It. Since Haywire has acquired a Cinemascore of D+ I can only imagine that audiences left the film feeling lazy and insignificant. If a film makes you reassess your life I think it has done something right.

Is Haywire Steven Soderbergh’s best film? No, but it isn’t a trifle either. Soderbergh’s career is a testament to stretching yourself, trying new things, and being daring. Dude made a 4 hour Che Guevera biopic AND an experimental art film with a porn star. And he still hasn’t made a fucking 3-D movie. BOW DOWN.