Jess, where’s the review of The Killing Joke? Yeah….I was on a work trip which takes priority. It helps that I love my job and it always takes precedence over this very passionate hobby of mine. Due to some of what my job entails however, as well as a few dozen (re: Hundreds) news stories over the past few years this segways nicely into the movie you are getting a review of today. I have watched all of the films with varying degrees of satisfaction since the first one fourteen years ago. Identity was good and new, but sadly introduced Shaky cam as a thing. Supremacy was a romp I enjoyed and Ultimatum tied it up nicely. Legacy was a disappointment within the realm of the franchise, but ok as it’s own film. I was rather put out with how they integrated it and I have a sneaking suspicion that Hollywood had a script around and did rewrites to make it work within the Bourne franchise. They do that all the time; at least two Hellraiser films are victims of this as well as Die Hard 4.
So is Bourne back or do we have an imposter film?
The movie is written by Christopher Rouse, who is normally an editor on such films as Paycheck, The Italian Job and Bourne Supremacy/Ultimatum, alongside Paul Greengrass (Bourne Supremacy, Ultimatum, Captain Phillips). It appears the two work well together as Rouse is an editor for the majority of Greengrass films and earned himself a writing credit this time. This is the first time Greengrass took up the pen on a Bourne film as the previous movies were scripted by Tony Gilroy. I might surmise that Gilroy was not trusted by the studio after the less than stellar performance of Bourne Legacy which he wrote and directed, especially up against the Greengrass directed Ultimatum which brought in $227 million domestic back in 2007. Just a guess mind you, I also believe that after the success of Captain Phillips that Paul Greengrass wanted to return to this franchise and do something with it and was given the reigns as a passion project.
Now passion projects can be disastrous, see Dungeons and Dragons (review will be part of the October set this year!), or box office gold (Avatar – the Cameron one). This time I think it will be the later of the two as this is a return to form in creating a highly intense spy thriller with just enough twists turns and plays that you aren’t sure which way is up or how it might end. This may be one of the best executed spy thrillers in recent years and is absolutely a better executed thriller than last years Spectre. It is also incredibly relevant to our cyber-technology and privacy age and uses those issues as a lynch pin (or grenade pin) to the plot. While as with most, if not all, thrillers like this liberties are taken with technology and little things like international privacy laws and capabilities; which in and of itself is an incredibly relevant story. Is it Hollywood as hell? Oh yeah. Is it entirely inaccurate in the questions it raises which could spur interesting discussions among the more millennial and tech minded audience members? No..not entirely, but there are discussions that can come from it – really good ones.
From an acting perspective, I am pretty sure Matt Damon could do Bourne in his sleep and truth be told, he may have for some of his scenes. Many times he appears along for the ride and not quite the Bourne we know and love. Tommy Lee Jones as CIA director Dewey is the heavy Jones does best. The breakout performances that steal their respective shows are Alicia Vikander as a CIA cyber security specialist and Vincent Cassel as a CIA asset. Vikander (Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Ex Machina) is an absolute delight in the movie. It’s yet another female character who is in charge, technically capable in her own right and does pass a few of the “Tests” including Sexy Lamp and Mako Mori. I repeatedly found myself cheering for the character and not being disappointed in her decisions through the film. Cassel (Le Pacte des Loups/Brotherhood of the Wolf – another review coming in October) just is a force of nature and has more menace to him than the last few villains I’ve seen in Marvel, DC, Bond, and many many other movies. In what would be a one note performance from someone else, Cassel is a perfect antithesis to Bourne.
That isn’t to say this movie isn’t flawless. There are pacing issues throughout the film that drag the story in an unneeded manner. The camera work and shaky cam are as bad as you’d expect, but also viable for this genre. I found there were too many edits in places that could have used more tracking shots, or longer shots on other components of the action. It was a victim of too much at once from time to time. There are a handful of spoiler-ish plot holes that had me and my friend roll our eyes that are clearly there for the convenience of the story rather than logic. At least one major annoyance occurred in the film that I really can’t forgive.
Bourne is back. I think this may be one of the best of the franchise, if not the best. It’s relevancy, plot continuation of a character that logically follows that character, and sticking to the rules of it’s world and even it’s predecessors beats make it a really solid film. Matt Damon was born for this role, pun intended, and while the movie doesn’t set up a sequel as well as Supremacy…I wouldn’t be upset to hear of one coming. Choose from the most used tags
Should you see it?
Despite the handful of flaws, and the unforgivable one, it is a good movie that I can recommend for anyone this weekend. If you enjoy the spy genre, Bourne films, and general action movies – see this.
Will you buy it?
Yep. BluRay day 1. Goes nicely into the collection
This adds to the total dollars and lives to bring Matt Damon home.
What else is coming to review?
The Killing Joke (Tuesday if I am lucky) and Suicide Squad next week. I will be on radio silence from social media after the review Tuesday as it’s hard already to avoid spoileristic impressions of those who have seen it via screenings.