Tag Archives: matt damon

‘Jason Bourne’ Too Familiar, Sloppy to Fully Enjoy

Jason_Bourne_(film)I kept thinking two things while watching this: (1) Alicia Vikander is unfairly attractive and (2) I still can’t believe that Matt Damon and “The Martian” won Best Comedy at the Globes last year…

“Jason Bourne” is the fifth installment of the Bourne franchise and the first one to feature Damon since 2007’s “Ultimatum.” This time around, Bourne finally discovers the secrets to his past and comes after the head of the CIA (Tommy Lee Jones) for the final answers. Vikander, Vincent Cassel and Riz Ahmed also star as Paul Greengrass returns to direct.

I love “The Bourne Identity” and “The Bourne Ultimatum,” they’re two of the best action films of all-time; “Supremacy” and “Legacy” have their moments but are fully forgettable. So when they announced Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon were teaming back up to return to the franchise that arguably made both of their careers, I was excited. So maybe it was the nine years of anticipation or the incredibly high bar set by “Ultimatum,” but “Jason Bourne” is a just alright action film.

The opening sequence sets the tone for the entire film, in that it is engaging and visceral at times but is confusingly shot and edited and lasts too long. The film opens with a foot chase that turns into a motorcycle chase and each of them have their intense moments; but Greengrass’ trademark handheld shaky cam and rapid editing often make it muddled what is going on.

Franchise newcomers Alicia Vikander and Tommy Lee Jones both add some intrigue to the film, with Vikander being, aside from being beyond bae-able, the voice of reason for the audience. She is dedicated to her job but also has her own motives and senses that maybe the CIA is going after Bourne for the wrong reasons. Meanwhile Tommy Lee Jones plays Tommy Lee Jones in that he scowls and growls as the Director of the CIA who knows more about Bourne than he is leading on.

Riz Ahmed gives the film’s most (only) charismatic performance as the CEO of a social media giant caught in the middle of a conspiracy, although his role could be removed from the film and the plot would be entirely unchanged.

Damon is a bit perplexing. He doesn’t turn in a bad performance, but he just seems tired and is sleepwalking through the role. For a movie with his character in the title, the film actually revolves more around Vikander, with Damon just running around plugging USBs into laptops.

The film’s climax is more of the same as the opening sequence. Set in Vegas, it begins with an incredibly intense ten minutes but is followed by a choppily edited and way overlong car chase. It is almost as if Greengrass and crew had spent so much money on the big set pieces and car crashes that they felt obligated to include everything they shot.

“Jason Bourne” doesn’t do much to answer any of the burning questions left from the original trilogy nor does it leave us wanting more Bourne, but it isn’t completely without intriguing action scenes and exotic locations. But it is more of the same which is fun for a while however in the end just isn’t enough.

Critics Rating: 6/10



‘The Martian’ is Overlong, Underwhelming

The_Martian_film_posterWell, at least this is better than “Exodus: Gods and Kings;” whatever that’s worth.

“The Martian” is based on the bestselling novel and stars Matt Damon as Mark Watney, an astronaut who is left behind on Mars after his team must perform an emergency evacuation. He must then both find a way to grow food and contact Earth before it is too late. Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, and Chiwetel Ejiofor highlight an all-star cast as Ripley Scott directs.

It seems to be a trend in the past few years to release a movie about surviving in space during the autumn season. 2013 gave us “Gravity,” and last year we had “Interstellar,” two very good movies that tinkered on great. Unfortunately “The Martian” does not continue that trend, as it a movie that is just OK, featuring flashes of what it could have been.

Like I said in the opening line, this is better than “Exodus,” and in fact may be Ripley Scott’s best film since 2003’s “Matchstick Men” (quick plug: see that if you haven’t). But the bar isn’t set very high for Scott, and many of the same problems that plagued his recent films like “Exodus” and “Prometheus,” like overstuffed plots and poor pacing, are front stage here.

“Martian” is 2 hours 20 minutes and you feel most every moment of that. I checked my phone one time expecting the film to be approaching the climax, and it was only 90 minutes in. Much of the film plays out in a rinse and repeat pattern: Damon needs to solve a problem, he solves it rather quickly, and a new problem then arises. Meanwhile the suits back at NASA argue on how to go about performing the rescue mission, which normally ends without much conflict.

The most interesting points of the film aren’t even featuring Damon trying to survive on the distant planet, it’s back on Earth where space experts Donald Glover, Ejiofor and Sean Bean all try and figure out problems and debate the best solutions. These moments are the most engaging but often end too quickly, instead sending us back to Damon who is eating potatoes for the 300th straight day.

What the film does do well, however, is establish the characters. We don’t really know about Watney before the accident (he gets left behind in the first 10 minutes of the film), so Damon’s video logs give us a feel for the character. He is a calm, down-to-earth (well, figuratively, not literally) guy who even though he just awoke 140 million miles from home with a needle plunged into his chest, still manages to crack a joke. The film itself is pretty funny, which makes sense when you have career comedians Glover, Daniels and Kristen Wiig as part of your cast.

I really wanted to like “The Martian” more than I did, but for every gorgeous shot of Mars’ desert terrain or each scene of Damon making a breakthrough, there are two or three slow scenes that add nothing but exposition to the already hefty plot. It is far from a bad film, but it is certainly one of the bigger disappointments of 2015, and kicks the Oscar movie season off with a whimper.

Critics Rating: 5/10



‘Monuments Men’ a Big Bowl of Meh



            I personally love historical movies, especially those set in the 1940’s. Seeing as “The Monuments Men” is set in the end of World War II, and boasts an impressive cast that includes George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman and Bill Murray, it had all the makings of a fantastic film. Unfortunately, it does not live up to its lofty ambitions.

Directed by and starring Clooney, “Monuments Men” is the true story of a team of artists and architects assigned to find and protect paintings and statues that have been stolen by the Nazis.

The film was originally slated to be released in December of last year; however, it was postponed until this February in order to finish editing the special effects. When a film willingly bows out of Oscar season, it is usually not a great sign. And after seeing the film, my suspicions and worries were justified.

The movie is not awful, but it just falls short on almost every level it was striving for. The trailers implied it was going to be a blend of comedy and drama; that was in fact one of the reasons the movie was delayed, to properly edit the two genres. Every attempt at humor falls flat, or the scenes are just plain unfunny. This is hard to blame on the actors, who feature established comedians such as Murray and Goodman. Instead, the fault lies on the screenplay (written by Clooney and his production partner Grant Heslov), for writing jokes and one-liners that are as stale as a week-old sandwich.

The pacing and narrative are also a large issue. Because there are so many characters in the film, it is hard to feel any real connection to them; it also makes the story arch a little stretched, and thus slow. There are quite a few dull moments in this movie, most of them coming whenever Cate Blanchett’s French art expert is on screen. Her side story however is uninteresting and, for the most part, unneeded.

The film does have some positives. The chemistry between the star studded cast is at times entertaining to watch, and all the actors do seem to try their hardest. The production value and scenery are also very well-done, and at times you are immersed in the ruins of a bombarded, war-torn European city. It was also interesting to see the pictures of the real life Monuments Men at the end of the film.

Its ambitions are large and its intentions are pure, but “The Monuments Men” fails to be anything more than a history lesson, and more often than not it is a pretty boring one. If you are a lover of historical art and monuments, then this may be worth checking out once it hits video. Otherwise this is an ever-so-slightly entertaining, albeit forgettable, George Clooney vehicle.

Critics Rating: 5/10