Jason Bourne

JAson bourne

After the 2012 release of the fourth film in the Bourne franchise without the involvement of Matt Damon, or two time Bourne series director Paul Greengrass 2016 reunited the pair with “Jason Bourne”.  When the Bond films were rebooted with Casino Royale in 2006 much credit was given to the Bourne franchise for bringing the spy genre movie back to earth by using a limited amount of technology and more hand to hand combat and general wits to overcome obstacles.  With the latest installment in the Bourne series an aged Matt Damon stars as an aged Jason Bourne who is still attempting to stay far away from the people that would either use him as a weapon or see him discarded.  While it was good to see another Bourne film with Matt Damon, this one was not necessarily a break from what we are used to seeing in these movies.

A few thoughts about Jason Bourne:

  1. Extremely convoluted plot – Leaving the theater a viewer can expect to forget the details of why anyone on screen is motivated to do anything they did.  Per usual in the Greengrass installments of this series the focus is more on the chase, and the stunts and creating a “thriller” feel.  Plot definitely feels secondary here, however for some this may be a plus as we explore in point 2.
  2. Very good action – The viewer can expect to be on the edge of their seat for some of the action scenes in this movie.  Including a very long car chase on the Vegas strip involving a SWAT truck, as well as a very intimate execution, this film did not hold back with the body count.  For viewers that want to see action on the big screen, this film delivers.
  3. Too much chase – Much of the previous installments in “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum” involved the usual scenes of two people completing separate tasks to find each other but cut together in order to give the viewer the anxious feeling that one will find the other before the second outsmarts the first.  This makes the film feel very familiar in a tired way.  The viewer can almost always expect Bourne to come out on top which makes the actions of almost everyone else seem futile.
  4. Old Matt Damon – (and older Julia Stiles)  really worked for this film.  As far as thinking about how the character has aged and how being older would affect and haunt a former assassin, Old Matt Damon is perfectly cast in this role.  At times the viewer can expect to look at his weathered face on camera and completely believe that he is now the haggard former assassin that has never been able to find the peace that he seeks
  5. Extremely relevant subject matter – The plot in this film (albeit convoluted as mentioned before) still manages to hit on some of the fears that the US faces today.  By weaving a subplot (eventually mainplot) that involves a major social media company and dealing with the CIA’s desire to neutralize threats the film feels like it kept up with the trend even in terrorism, or what a threat would look like in 2016.  This made the film feel a little more relevant while it still leaned heavily on the action
  6. Flat women characters – There are two women characters in this movie.  One of them I would have loved to see more of, as her backstory is very relevant to the plot.  The other has a very flat performance that did not do the actress much justice.  In general the performances from the women, did not feel as if they were given much opportunity to be relevant.  This made the movie feel like it was still a little behind its time.
  7. Not sure if they need a sequel – It seems like they either need to let Jason Bourne rest or put him back to work in the CIA.  Either way, we cannot realistically expect him to keep engaging in this abusive relationship with black ops in the US.

Definitely not the movie of the summer.  However consider this the backup plan, if Star Trek Beyond, and Ghostbusters are sold out.  Leave your kids at home, there is a lot of senseless murder in this film.  2.5 of 5 stars.

 

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Ghostbusters

 

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The Ghostbusters was a popular movie franchise in the 80s as well as a popular cartoon in the early 90s.  As Hollywood continues to monetize nostalgia, the newest Ghostbusters reboot was the subject of much scrutiny from idea to realization.  From the casting of an all female cast, as well as the backlash from what some argued was relegation of the black character to a menial role alongside her scientist team.  While some predicted that this movie would be crushed under the weight of its own expectations (read hype) Ghostbusters was a surprisingly enjoyable movie that lived up to the originals.

A few thoughts about Ghostbusters:

  1. Very funny – In the first act the jokes were coming at almost a machine gun pace.  This movie leaned heavily on one liners and dialogue humor, there were many visual gags however the trailers showed many of them.  What the trailer did not necessarily capture was the clever banter among the members of the team.
  2. Kate McKinnon was awesome – At one point early in the movie it seemed that Kate McKinnon would run away with the movie as the breakout star.  She seemed to do for this movie what Melissa McCarthy did for Bridesmaids by bringing that very specific brand of weirdness that allowed the movie to have levels with its punchlines.
  3. It didn’t matter that they were women – There was a joke early in the movie that highlighted that these were women, however as the movie wore on there was nothing specific about them being women that made the movie any more or less of what it was.
  4. Great Chemistry – The movie seemed to operate in pairs mostly, there was banter between Mckninnon and Wiig, McCarthy and Wiig, McKinnon and Jones, and only a few times were there opportunities for all four of the women to crack jokes together on screen.  This measured approach allowed for the comedy to breathe a little more and not bombard viewers with four individually funny woman attempting to steal the show.  The chemistry made the movie seem like there was room for all of them to be funny successfully together
  5. Didn’t take itself too seriously – Many times the movie leaned into the silliness of the plot which allowed viewers to enjoy the premise that much more.  Where the original movies went in a more adventure direction with comedy, this film leaned more on the comedy with adventure as the backdrop.
  6. Leslie Jones fit right in – while some were upset about Jones not being cast as a scientist, as the movie wore on, it didn’t seem to matter as much as they were all equals.  Jones was funny, however she was not so zany that it felt shucky or jivey.  Even the most questionable parts of her characterization (surmised by some from a trailer) made sense.  She was enjoyable to watch.
  7. Unnecessary and gratuitous cameos – The cameos all felt a little forced.  They pretty much felt like they were obligated to put in the celebrities that they did.  It was done in a way to give each of them the spotlight that didn’t feel natural to the movie at all.
  8. Fun – fun just seemed to shine through the movie from the beginning to the end.  There was something about watching these four women that kept viewers glued to the screen as well as being interested in what they were doing and what would happen to them next.

This movie was genuinely enjoyable albeit not perfect.  However a perfect fun summer movie to keep you out of the sweltering heat.  Bring your kids, but be warned there is some light ghost terrors, however the older of your kids will be able to handle it.  3.5 of 5 stars.

The Purge: Election Year

the purge

There are some movies that come around that have a concept or premise so solid that a movie has boundless possibilities as far as acting writing and direction.  A solid premise can be the difference between the flops that are movies based on board games or video games, and original screen written hits such as Inception.  The Purge series has a solid premise.  That premise being that in a dystopian United States set in the not so distant future the New Founding Fathers enact the “Purge” in order to rid the society of evils that are detrimental to the country’s growth.  The Purge is a twelve hour period in which all crime is legal to include (read:especially) murder.  As a result of the purge unemployment and crime are both down to 1% as most are getting the crime out of their system once a year.  (the unemployment probably has more to do with people being dead, the causality is never really explained here)  The first and second movies “The Purge” and “Purge: Anarchy” respectively, cover the effects of the purge on first a family, and then a city, with the first sequel revealing that the reason for the creation of the purge may be more sinister than previously thought.  These movies have all sorts of problems, however when they brush up against the idea of government sanctioned killing, and socioeconomic motivation as well as gun violence they make for an intriguing watch.

A few thoughts about ‘The Purge:  Election Year’:

  1. Overwrought dialogue.  At one point in the movie a man is standing in the middle of the street shirtless covered in blood yelling “It’s survival of the fittest, and I am the fittest!”  Much of the theater laughed out loud however it is uncertain if this was actually written for laughs.
  2. Overly dramatic in weird places.  Some of the problems with this movie are based in that it speculates that the world if given the opportunity is filled with sadistic killers.  Not just people who will kill you if given the chance, but skipping, dancing, laughing, bathing in your blood sadists who are creative in the methods of your death.  At times this was more difficult to watch than the actual violence itself which was plentiful.
  3. Shaky motivation by the antagonists.  As alluded previously the motivation behind the purge is revealed to be more sinister than originally thought.  However at times one could get the notion that the people behind the purge had some sort of deeply religious connection to “purging” themselves.  Rather than continuing to think that the reasoning behind the purge was the reason revealed, many of the main antagonists seemed to be buying into their own nonsense which again was strangely religious to an uncomfortable degree.  This was definitely a low point of much of the movie.
  4. Likable protagonists.  Although much of the characterizations are pretty flat, it was hard not to root for the “good guys” in this one.  There are a couple of deaths of faces the audience grew attached to that allowed the movie some room for heart and even added an element of reality after watching the slow motion scenes of skipping, dancing, laughing etc from before.  For the most part the motivation of the protagonists seemed completely plausible in this universe.
  5. Solid ideas.  As mentioned in the introduction the best parts of this movie came in the portions where it bumped up against some interesting ideas about government, oppression, revolution and the like.  The world building was believable and for the most part you could accept the reaction of this world in its present state based on the parameters set either in this movie or previous movies.  (To clarify, there is a part of the movie that talks about ‘murder tourism’ which I found fascinatingly realistic)
  6. Shaky writing.  When the movie was not brushing up against noble or grand ideas about government it just became a typical slasher chase movie.  At times it was a good one, but other times it was not so good.

All in all, these movies are cheap to make, extremely profitable and easy to watch.  It would not be surprising to see another sequel next summer.  Worth seeing, in the theater, without your kids.  2.75 of 5 stars.

 

A Few Words about Selma…

It was a good movie. However i hope that when people see it they notice the blatant parallels between then and now.

  1. White people marched with black people plenty of times during the civil rights movement, so the diverse protesting you see today is nothing new. (this fact was not new to me, but worth mentioning again)
  2. They wanted voting rights in Selma Alabama at that time. So it was not an abstract march, their wants were pretty specific, and easily attained through the right legislation.
  3. Protesting is SUPPOSED to be disruptive. It is supposed to clog up roads and stop traffic and in general be inconvenient. If it is not, then it is likely not going to be effective. The idea behind it is forcing action. That was the case then and is the case now. (to be clear this is protesting, and not rioting, no one should advocate rioting or violence)
  4. The confederate flag was used as a symbol of intimidation to black people back then (in the 60s). The origins of the flag are racist, and if you fly it today regardless of your intent, it is offensive to black people.
  5. National Leadership is not necessarily responsible for organizing the local movements. Typically by the time MLK got to an area, the ground work was laid, and he was moving it along. (this is why grassroots organization is important)
  6. Law Enforcement was used as a weapon of the government to disenfranchise black people in all facets of society. (this is the root of why black people do not trust the police in general.)

Systemic racism is the problem. I know this is a bit Captain Obvious, however I truly do not think people understand systemic racism and why minorities do not believe that the “system” works for them.

Go see Selma.