Tag Archives: paul greengrass

‘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



Take the Gripping Ride with ‘Captain Phillips’


            Wow. That’s the only way I know how to begin this review of “Captain Phillips”. This movie left me speechless and shaking. And I will now attempt to do the film justice and explain why.

In his best performance since 2001’s “Castaway”, Tom Hanks portrays Captain Richard Phillips, the head of a U.S. cargo ship. Based on the true story from 2009, Phillips must survive when his ship is hijacked by Somali pirates off the African coast. Paul Greengrass directs.

Never before have I experienced a film with such relentless intensity. From the moment the pirates are spotted on the horizon to the film’s final seconds, my heart was racing and I did not have a clue what was going to happen next. If you don’t know the true story and how it ends, let me do you an immense favor and tell you to not do any research. It only will make the film that much better.

Hanks is the film’s anchor (boat pun) and is an obvious scene-stealer. When his ship is taken hostage, Phillips tries to keep a calm demeanor, however once he himself is taken prisoner by the pirates he realizes he is in a fight for his life. Hanks is simply on his A-game and when Tom Hanks is on his A-game there are few better.

Not to be outdone is newcomer Barkhad Abdi, who plays the leader of the pirates. While at first we think he is just a greedy criminal driven by money, we learn his motives and we almost sympathize with him and his crew. Abdi keeps a haunting calmness throughout the whole film which makes his role as the antagonist all the more impressive.

Paul Greengrass, known for “The Bourne Ultimatum”, is masterful here. While at first many of his shots are a bit too close to the actors’ faces, once the action picks up the direction becomes nothing short of wonderful. He creates such tension with his cuts and camera angles and when Hanks and the pirates are in a small lifeboat you, too, feel trapped and helpless.

In previous weeks I have ranted about how intense “Prisoners” and “Gravity” are. Those two films had several incredibly tense moments. I kid you not when I say every scene, every shot, of “Captain Phillips” is so intense it is almost too much. I was on the edge of my seat for near the whole movie and the ending to the film put a lump in my throat and sweat in my palms. It is honestly that good.

If you know me, you know I am sometimes an overly harsh critic. I somehow find flaws in every movie. Well aside from a slow start (literally ten minutes, so it’s nothing) “Captain Phillips” is flawless. Incredible direction, great performances by the two leads and an emotionally exhausting climax that will be remembered for years to come, “Captain Phillips” is by and far the best film of this year…and quite possibly the best film of this young decade.

Critics Rating: 10/10