Tag Archives: Jeremy Renner

“MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION” Review (✫✫1/2)

More like a city, or a gated community.

I’m really starting to get sick of these action movies. I know, I know, how do I get sick of action? Well, have you ever seen a television episode over, and over, and over again to the point where it frustrated you just to look at it? That’s where I’m at with these action movies that are getting recycled summer after summer after summer.

I was really hoping Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation wasn’t going to be another recycled action pic. Truthfully, I wasn’t expecting it. The film is at a 93% from critics on RottenTomatoes, while users rate it at a 91%. Metacritic users rate it an 8 out of 10. Cinemascore polls it at an A-. Everyone around me seems to be fervently enjoying the action romp that is Mission Impossible. Everyone, that is, except me.

So what happened? Simply put, I think audiences were expecting something different from me. I’ve seen four of these movies now before watching Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and with each one, I got something different. The first Mission Impossible pitted a younger Ethan Hunt against two opposing spy agencies, along with the gravity of seeing his entire team get killed on a deadly mission. The third Mission Impossible found Hunt breaking out of retirement to rescue his wife, who was held captive at the hands of a cruel terrorist threat. The fourth Mission Impossible found Ethan dealing with his wife’s death after the events of MI3. We won’t count Mission Impossible II, because that’s not a real Mission Impossible movie.

With Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Ethan Hunt (once again, portrayed by Tom Cruise) is pitted against both his own government and yet another secret spy agency named the Syndicate, comprised of insurgent IMF agents labeled as either missing or dead. That’s it. He has no personal investment in the story, no driving emotional force that focuses on him and him only. At one point in the movie, one of his closest friends gets kidnapped by the syndicate and he starts freaking out about it. Right. How many times did someone get kidnapped in your other movies, Ethan?

His supporting characters includes most of his crew from the fourth Mission Impossible. Ving Rhames is back as Vincent, returning once again to help Ethan Hunt since their first mission in the original Mission Impossible. The comedic relief Benji is once again portrayed by self-employed funny man Simon Pegg. Jeremy Renner returns as William Brandt, acting as Ethan’s voice of reason against all of his crazy ideas of stunts. Considering Cruise does all of his own stunts, I think Renner needs to be his voice of reason off-screen as well.

The first thing you need to know about Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is that the visuals do not disappoint. The one thing every movie in the series is most known for is its spectacle, and Rogue Nation keeps the tradition going strong. In one fight scene early in the film, Ethan was fighting a swarm of syndicate agents while handcuffed at both his wrists and ankles. In another, he’s quietly struggling against a sniper on top of a German opera production while the performance is still going on. My favorite is probably when he has to hold his breath under water for six minutes in what is essentially an underwater hard drive as he switches out two data disks. It’s important to note, Cruise actually trained with a diving specialist in order to hold his breath under water for three minutes. The sequence we see in the film was actually shot in one take with no edits.

The stunts we see in the film are impressive to say the least. The danger with a fifth entry, however, is that I’ve been impressed four times already. Whatever stunts are to come, I’m already expecting. And since I’ve seen these crazy stunts in four movies now, the effect is dulled before I even see it.

For instance, the big stunt people were excited for in this movie specifically was a sequence where Cruise is holding on outside of an airplane while it is taking off. Impressive as it was, it was the very first scene in the movie. Since I’ve already seen the trailer, I know Cruise survives this sequence, otherwise why would we even have a movie? How am I supposed to feel tension and excitement in a scene where I already know what’s going to happen?

The cast is appropriate, but ineffective. They serve the same roles they’ve done from other movies and that’s about it. How is Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt? The same he’s been for four movies now. How is Jeremy Renner? About as good as he was in Ghost Protocol, except now he’s less interesting because he doesn’t have the investment and guilt he had in Ghost Protocol. Pegg is the same. Rhames is the same. The only characters that are different are the new characters, which includes its baddie played by Sean Harris and its discount Bond girl played by Rebecca Ferguson. Again, what do these characters have to offer that we haven’t seen before? The late Phillip Seymour-Hoffman did a better job manipulating and pushing Ethan past his limits in the J.J. Abrams-directed Mission Impossible III than Harris did in this movie. And Ferguson? Did she not see Emmanuelle Béart in her brilliantly deceptive performance in the original Mission Impossible?

I caught myself saying one thing over and over again during the film: “I’ve seen this before.” For a movie series that’s lasted past five films, that’s not a good thing. Funny, this movie is written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who is responsible for writing The Usual Suspects and Edge of Tomorrow and directing Jack Reacher, all films with their own unique interest and personality. Now he has made Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and like Ethan’s assigned missions, his movie blew up in my face after it gave me what it was supposed to.

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“MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL” Review (✫✫✫1/2)

Pray for Tom Cruise’s sanity.

There is something seriously wrong with Tom Cruise if he is not pissing his pants while scaling up the world’s tallest building in Dubai. In Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, he shows he’s more daring by stumping a feat that he matched in MI2 where he free-climbed up a canyon wearing nothing but a safety harness. This time, he’s climbing up the Burj Khalifa building in Dubai, which happens to be the world’s tallest building at a whopping 829 meters. That’s the equivalent of three Eiffel towers.

What is wrong with him?

This feat, among others, demonstrates that Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is by far one of the most visually spectacular of all the Mission Impossible movies. It’s also one of the more entertaining ones as well. Like the other Mission Impossible movies, there is never a dull moment, and never a thrill wasted. There is appeal in every scene of every shot, whether it is a ridiculous chase/action sequence, a precise line of exposition, a humorous exchange of dialogue between characters, or Cruise pulling off yet another stupidly insane stunt that would probably kill anyone else. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is the definition of great moviemaking.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol takes place a few years after the events of the third Mission Impossible. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), who was previously happily married to his wife, Julie (Michelle Monoghan), is now incarcerated and in a federal prison in Moscow, Russia. What he’s doing there, we have no idea. Not until later in the movie.

He is broken out of prison with the help of two IMF agents: agents Carter (Paula Patton) and Benji (Simon Pegg), who you would remember as the dorky, but funny, computer geek we saw in Mission Impossible III. They are ordered to break Hunt out of prison for one reason: assistance on an upcoming mission where they have to break into the Kremlin to discover the identity of “Cobalt”, a global criminal who intends to start an international nuclear war in order to issue a new era of peace. His idea is similar to Ozymandias’ in the 2009 film Watchmen: before humanity can be saved, there first needs to be something to save them from. That is, at least, what “Cobalt” believes.

Here is a film where the visual spectacle and design of the film overwhelms the story that is being told. In the two previous Mission Impossible movies, that was a weakness. Here though, I applaud it for its ambition in visual spectacle and for its audacity to impress the audience in sheer spirit and style alone. Besides the climbing of the Burf Khalifa sequence, I can name many other sequences that really impressed me, such as the prison break scene in Moscow, the breaking into the Kremlin, a chase scene between Ethan and “Cobalt” in Dubai, and a final spectacular fight sequence that takes place in a car lot in India. I was so impressed by all of these sequences that I went back to the theater to watch it again just for those scenes alone.

Don’t think for a second, however, that just because the story is secondary to the action, it doesn’t mean it cannot hold up on its own. One thing I was initially worried about with this movie was how it would handle being a sequel to Mission Impossible III, which I thought was a fine way to end the franchise on a happy note. How they tie that movie into this one is brilliant, and there are many moments where we can pick up what happened to Ethan and Julie in between the events of MI3 and Ghost Protocol. This is where the film’s emotional appeal comes from. Ethan is trying to recover from what happened with him and Julie in the past, and as husbands and lovers, we can sympathize with Ethan and his problems. It isn’t tear-wrenching, but it doesn’t need to be. It gets a response from its viewers, and it doesn’t need an explosion and a falling building to get it. As a movie that is action-focused, it impresses me that the movie focuses on all the areas that it needs to: not just the ones that will bring it the biggest bucks.

Cruise, of course, is as slick, cool, and crazy as he always is, and comes back to this movie with the same charm and charisma that made him an icon in the original “Mission Impossible” movies. Paula Patton, who is most known in supporting roles like “Déjà Vu”, “Precious” and recently “Jumping The Broom” plays here yet another supporting role who is just as effective in other movies as she is here. She is smart, ambitious, and incredibly passionate, who puts in everything she can into every shot. And, if I may say so, she looks damn good while doing it.

Two actors who I felt had great presence in the film: Benji, played by Simon Pegg, and a new character named Brandt, played by Jeremy Renner from The Hurt Locker. I loved both of them in this movie. If Cruise and Patton provided the action-packed, exciting moments in the movie, these two provided the comedic relief. I can remember countless lines of dialogue from them both that made me and everyone else in the theater laugh. One especially funny scene was basically a re-enactment of the iconic dangling scene from the first Mission Impossible movie. Was it exciting, suspenseful, and nerve-wracking? Yes, but Benj’s oblivious comments combined with Brandt’s agitated responses culminated for a very funny moment that started off very unnerving and heart-pounding. Few films have the capacity to be able to switch from one tone to another; this film does it with surprising efficiency.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this film is that this is the director’s first live-action film. Director Brad Bird is famous for animated critical successes such as The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille, but no live-action films prior to Mission Impossible. How was he able to make this and make it look so amazing? Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is visually spectacular, sharply humorous, and relentlessly spirited and invigorating. It may not be the best Mission Impossible, but it is definitely the best sequel.

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“THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON” Review (✫✫✫1/2)

The Avengers face judgement day. 

We are now nearing the end of Marvel’s phase two of its cinematic universe. Before Age of Ultron, we’ve seen ten of these movies now. Iron Man. The Incredible Hulk. Iron Man 2. Thor. Captain America: The First Avenger. The Avengers. Iron Man 3. Thor: The Dark World. Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Guardians of the Galaxy. You would think that by now, we would be sick of watching these movies. I know I normally would. It only took three Transformers movies for me to get sick of that franchise.

Yet, the people over at Marvel continue to find new ways to surprise me and make me once again believe in its cinematic universe. Avengers: Age of Ultron is its most recent example. The film had a near impossible task: outdoing its 2012 predecessor, which was a brilliantly woven and executed superhero masterpiece in its own right. After succeeding on a grand project that big and combining five multiverses into one fluid narrative, how are you expected to measure up to that in the sequel? Luckily, writer-director Joss Whedon is no fool. He knew what expectations were going to be had for his highly-anticipated sequel. He could have sold out and let the anticipation from the first movie roll in the bank for this one, but Whedon instead did the one thing that most filmmakers are too afraid to do nowadays: he set out to make it better.

Take the movie’s villain as Whedon’s prime example for improvement. Ultron, voice and motion performance by James Spader, is a trash-talking super-intelligent humanoid A.I. created by Tony Stark, a.k.a. “Iron Man” (Robert Downey Jr.) to protect the Earth from supernatural threats. Shortly after his creation, however, Ultron goes rogue and concludes that in order for true peace to be obtained, humanity needs to be wiped out and reborn like the animals from the dinosaur age.

On the surface, this seems like the same story for every robot-rebellion premise: a machine was created to do good, it becomes self aware, and in turn does the opposite of good. And in a sense, this is the same story for every robot-rebellion premise.

The key, however, lies in execution, and Spader as Ultron is the best super villain performance I’ve seen in a Marvel movie to date. Ultron doesn’t behave or talk like other androids. He isn’t stiff, rigid, or robotic like other mechanical characters in film are. Like any of the other live-action actors on screen, Ultron is a fluid, life-like being with his own personality and morals. He’s chaotic and radical in his thinking and behavior, acting more like a psychotic child rather than a logic-driven artificial intelligence.

Considering his creator is the egotistical Tony Stark, I can’t say I’m surprised that his personality is the same. Every Avenger in this film is just as great with each other as they were in the first Avengers movie. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is just as machismo and uncompromising as he is in any of his movies. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is equally as earnest and straightforward, with a few secrets that surprised even me in the theater. Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America (Chris Evans) continues his rivalrous dynamic with Stark from the first movie, their contrasting personalities rubbing off of each other so viciously that we can see how it builds up to Captain America: Civil War.

The two Avengers that have the greatest dynamic, however, are Bruce Banner, or the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Here, their relationship expands from the first movie into a conflicted romance between the two. Romanoff is a master assassin with a past she’s neither proud to have nor able to escape from. Banner is the feeble scientist with a monster inside of him that he’s not proud of either. The two don’t feel like they can have a relationship with each other because of their different personalities, but Whedon puts them together with tragically heartfelt honesty here. He finds a connecting theme between the two, themes of loss and regret that makes them turn to each other and rely on each other. I didn’t think it was going to work when I saw these characters at first, but Whedon makes it so compelling that now I can’t see it any other way. Romanoff asks Banner a question in one scene that I think is reflective of their relationship: “Do you still think you’re the only monster on the team?”

Everything else in the movie lives up to the expectations you had in the first movie. The action is unique, visually complex, and eye-popping. The story is layered, intelligent, and dynamic, with characters bouncing witty and thought-provoking dialogue off of each other perfectly. The villain is one of the best and most unique of the Marvel universe, and there’s a few new characters introduced in the film that are done just as well as the superhero team’s main heroes.

Here’s the worst thing I can say about the movie, and really the greatest danger to the Marvel cinematic universe: I’m getting used to it. This is the 11th movie I’ve seen in the Marvel universe now, and I almost know what to expect. I know that I’m going to be surprised and shocked at some of the twists and turns. I know I’m going to enjoy the heroes and villains alike. I know that there’s going to be a lot of action with a noteworthy plot behind it. And, more than anything else, I know the movie is going to expand upon itself and its multiple follow ups.

Marvel has 11 more movies to produce after this for their phase 3, and there’s no telling how many more movies they plan to do after that. With Whedon going on record saying this is his last Marvel movie, I question how well they will be able to continue expanding this universe and doing it well. How much longer can Marvel keep pushing the envelope? I hope I don’t find out soon.

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“THE AVENGERS” Review (✫✫✫✫)

The ultimate example of comic-book superhero movies. 

I remember opening a comic book for the first time in my life when I was just a small kid. The small pamphlet fascinated me: by just a flip of a page, an entirely different world was created. A world where normal people gained super powers, wore red capes and tights, fought evil wherever it may exist, and made the world a safer place by the end of the day. In a small, poor neighborhood town where I was the only white kid in a predominantly Latino school building, it provided me a sense of relief and sanction from much bullying and torment I experienced from the other school children back in the day. It provided me freedom from the accursed world I lived in: it provided me a means of escape.

And now here I am, 15 years later, watching a live-action re-enactment of the world I discovered and loved all those many years ago. The Avengers is masterfully fantastic. It is an epic superhero tale, portraying the never-ending conflict of good and evil. It is an action movie with surprising finesse, switching from scenes of explosive energy and action to other scenes with insight, humor, and heartfelt emotion. It is a faithful re-production of multiple universes we have come to love in the past four years, and re-adapts them faithfully and full of energy in this film. But the core of this film’s success is this: that the film’s story and themes are emotional, honest, and truthful, and fleshes out its heroes to make them what they are: humans. All fighting for very human, realistic, and understandable reasons.

If you’ve seen the previous Marvel entries, you already know what this movie is about. The Avengers is a group of superheroes brought together to fight the battles that human beings never could.  Who are these heroes?  You would know most of them.

Tony Stark “Iron Man” (Robert Downey Jr): A billionaire playboy/philanthropist that has a genius-level-intellect that has allowed him to build and fight in a suit of armor.

Bruce Banner “Hulk” (Mark Ruffalo): A scientist exposed to gamma radiation, who turns into a giant, brutish beast with monstrous strength when he becomes angry.

Natasha Romanoff “Black Widow” (Scarlett Johansson): An agile and intelligent spy that is more skilled and capable than most other men.

Clint Barton “Hawkeye” (Jeremy Renner): A masterful marksman who can aim and shoot with his bow and various arrows in a matter of milliseconds.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth): The Norse God of thunder who can manipulate lightning with the power of his mighty hammer, Mjolnir.

Steve Rogers “Captain America” (Chris Evans): A super soldier frozen through time who can beat criminals to a pulp, as well as wielding a shield cast in a rare metal called “vibranium”.

You’ve seen these heroes before, most of them in their own respective movies.  All with their own stories, origins, conflicts, and themes that were explored along with their respective characters. My original worry with this film was, despite the huge expectations people were having, I was afraid this movie would let people down. It does, after all, have a lot on its plate: adapting over six superheroes into one action-packed movie is no easy task. We have Batman Forever and Spiderman 3 as evidence of that, where they had trouble of adapting even four super-powered beings to the big screen.

This film, though, has surprising finesse. Writer-director Joss Whedon adapts these characters with such child-like love and faithfulness, I feel their themes and stories from their previous films carry over to this film with them. It doesn’t feel like an adaptation, or an act of cruel financial commercialism. It lives up to the hype. The characters in this film live and breathe their uniqueness we have come to know and love from the previous Marvel movies. We feel Iron Man’s sarcasm and big ego, Thor’s sense of responsibility and brotherhood, Banner’s fear, frustration, and anger, and Steve’s sense of honor, patriotism, loss, and duty. Through the film’s dialogue and references to prior films, we sense Whedon’s pure intentions underneath the action, and we respect it. We realize he isn’t making just another action movie; he is making a superhero movie.  One with upmost faithfulness and loyalty to its own universes.

Impressive also, are the actors, but I don’t need to tell you that. We’ve seen them in prior films, so we already know they are good. I will comment then, on something we haven’t seen yet: their chemistry with each other. My word. This is what makes the Avengers, The Avengers. The actor’s chemistry with each other is spot-on, and in-tune. Whether it is a scene involving humorous, sarcastic dialogue, or another scene with painful realism and emotional truth to it, there is reality being shown in every single shot when an actor is with another Avenger on-screen. I can’t accurately describe it to you and do it justice. You need to see the film to understand their relationship with each other.

People are also wondering, of course, if the visual side of the film delivers. The answer is yes, but it isn’t just because it looks great; it is because of how they handled the great visuals they had for this picture. Too many times are we given films that have great visual CGI and explosions to overwhelm the audience with, but we have no suspense, excitement, or surprise to go along with it. It doesn’t make for an entertaining film. All that is left is a predictable action film that’s empty amidst the flat storytelling and redundant action sequences that just shows one explosion after another.

The Avengers isn’t like that. It doesn’t use its action as an excuse to fall flat and give up on entertaining its audience. Its excitement is relentless. Its suspense builds, and builds, and builds until we can take it no longer.  We scramble in our seat as we attentively watch what will happen next for our heroes.

This is the kind of excitement we need in superhero movies: the kind that is reminiscent of those kids watching Saturday morning cartoons, the ones that have you sitting on the edge of your seat with your bowl of “Captain Crunch” in order to see if your favorite hero does, in fact, save the day. It is this suspense and tension that builds The Avengers to incredible cinematic heights, and makes for some truly entertaining, memorable, and iconic moments in the picture.

The Avengers is the ultimate example of a comic book superhero movie. Whedon has a great subject to play with, sure. But his film is a great one not because he solely depends on the idea to be successful. This film is a success because he treats it the way it is supposed to be treated: as an exciting action-blockbuster that retains humanity to its characters, spirit to its humor, and excitement in its own story. I know somewhere in this world, some little ten-year old kid will watch this movie, and will one day be inspired to make his own superhero movie. It’s kind of depressing, though. It doesn’t really get much better than this.

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“AMERICAN HUSTLE” Review (✫✫✫)

FBI trying to hustle politicians by hustling con artists.

“We’re always conning other people,” says a slurred, yet sure voice in the background. “It’s in our nature. We even con ourselves.” These words are coming from the mouth that belongs to Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), a con artist who quickly learned what it meant to grow up and survive in a harsh economy. Irving is the sort of guy you wouldn’t want to interact with out in public. He is grossly out of shape, he smells of old hairspray and cologne, his crafty eyes hide behind a dark pair of shades, and his diet consists of nothing but beer, fast food and cigars. From an outward appearance, Irving doesn’t really make a good impression. But man, can that guy talk a good game.

After rushing through Irving’s very brief childhood, we are quickly introduced to Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), a woman in her mid-thirties whose beauty is both ageless and captivating. Despite his nauseating physical appearance, Sydney almost instantly falls in love with Irving, and Irving falls in love with her too. So much so that he discloses his illegal business with her, asking her to become a part of him scamming other people out of their hard-earned cash and checks.

That’s all I’m going to get into as far as the plot synopsis goes. Believe me, I haven’t even gotten to the surface of it. There’s an FBI agent trying to catch them named Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), there’s a New Jersey mayor played by Jeremy Renner somewhere in the mix, Irving has a son and a wife he’s committed to named Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence). There’s even a mobster somewhere in this movie where an actor makes a cameo appearance, but I won’t spoil the surprise by revealing who it is (hint hint: He’s got some bad ideas in his head).

Point being: this is a smart movie. It’s funny, original, intelligent, and thoughtful, an observant portrait that looks at the moral and financial struggles of these characters and what impact their actions have on the people in their lives. Part of this, no doubt, is because of the cast’s mastery at delivery. Part of it is also because its writer-director is equally as funny, original, intelligent, and thoughtful as the story is. David O’Russell, who was nominated for best directing and writing Oscars for the past few years now (For Silver Linings Playbook last year and The Fighter in 2010), returns yet again with the same wit, charm, and complexion that made his previous films both unique and entertaining.

The dialogue is authentic, almost like it pops off of the pages of the screenplay just as much as it does in the movie. How though? This is, after all, a work of fiction, right? Wrong. The plot is just is like Irving’s deceptions: they’re only half fake. The movie is based on the real-life ASCAM sting operations of the late 1970’s, in which the FBI arrested over 31 individuals of congress and 7 were convicted of bribery and conspiracy. That sort of realism translates brilliantly to the screen, and makes the conversations characters share feel so personal. Make no mistake, fellow reader: this is, in every definition, a heist picture, because everyone is all after something and are willing to manipulate everyone in order to get to it first.

The cast is unforgettable. So much so that I can’t even pick a favorite among them. Bale is as talented as ever in this movie, a brilliant and dedicated method actor who has immersed himself so much into a role that its hard to imagine that at one point he was Patrick Bateman or Bruce Wayne. Lawrence and Adams are excellent female leads, and are great at expressing how conflicted Irving feels towards the both of them as lovers. Renner is great as the New Jersey mayor, a loving and kind-hearted man, father, and husband who just wants the best for everybody, but ends up making the wrong decisions in trying to do so. If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be Bradley Cooper, only because he is so passionate and wacky that he could have been redone as a cartoon character. Like I said though, I can’t pick one. This cast is so talented and skilled in their roles that to pick one performance over another would be considered a sin. They are just as responsible for bringing this story to life as David O’Russell is.

This movie has all of the elements of being Oscar-worthy material: a great story, dialogue, characters, direction, and a great cast that fills these figures with vibrant energy and personality. The only real problem with this movie is the setup, and that’s unfortunate because that’s one of the most important parts of any movie.

Let me provide an example: when I first watched Goodfellas, what absorbed me into that picture was the first 15 minutes, a little italian boy learning about the mafia as a child, and the first narration we hear being “Ever since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a gangster.” Another one? In the opening scene of There Will Be Blood, we see a touching yet tragic portrait of a man seeing one of his workers die in an oil deposit, leaving behind an infant who can’t even speak, and Daniel Plainview deciding, against his better judgement, to adopt him as his own. Do I even need to mention Up?

All of those pictures started off with a bang because they gave us a perspective into the character’s history before getting into the meat of the story. Not that there needs to be a “How-to” guide for making opening sequences, but American Hustle literally flashes Irving’s childhood for about a minute before throwing us into the plot. I’m all for “show-don’t-tell” stories where they’re all situational, strictly limited to being set in their own present (Such as The King’s Speech or Black Hawk Down), but this one felt too much like being thrown into cold water when you can’t even swim.

Despite my views, I know critics already have their opinions established on this movie. They’re going to say its a masterpiece. That it is masterfully written and acted (which it is) and that it is going going to be nominated for multiple Academy Awards (which it will be as well). What critics won’t realize is the movie itself might be a con, making people believe that it is better than it actually is.

Well, if it is a scam, and David O’Russell is the con artist, then all I’m going to say is that he did a damn good job at it.

Post-script: For you irresponsible parents that are considering taking your teenagers to see this movie, don’t. The MPAA rated this movie R for “pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence.” The violence is very brief and honestly not a large problem. The sexual content, however, is profuse because of Irving’s two sexual partners, and the movie has no shame for showing us any of it. I noticed over 100 F-words.

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“THE BOURNE LEGACY” Review (✫1/2)

This movie has the wrong title.

The Bourne Legacy is a misconstrued mess, an absolute miscalculation and train wreck of a film that it has no business being made into a movie in the first place.  I hated this idea months before this was released, and I hate it even more now after having seen it.  Who, in their right minds, thought it was a good idea to make a Bourne movie without Jason Bourne???  That was my biggest concern going into the movie.  Believe me though, fellow moviegoers: that is the least of your worries.

Taking place shortly after the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, The Bourne Legacy shows the repercussions of Bourne’s actions, how it affects Treadstone, and what marks it leaves on the people involved.  Erik Byer (Edward Norton) is a government official who was directly involved with the affairs of Treadstone during its days of operation.  Shortly after Jason Bourne escapes their custody, however, Byer believes that all of the agents now are a potential threat to the government, and is convinced that he needs to shut the project down in order to protect themselves.  By “shut the project down”, I really mean kill all of the agents in the field.

One of these agents is Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), an experienced field agent who is carrying out a mission in Alaska for Treadstone when the order was released.  While taking refuge in a wooden cabin with another fellow agent out in Alaska, they are suddenly attacked by robot jets, and Cross barely escapes with his life intact.  Surviving only because of the medication he is on (Treadstone agents are required to take two pills, a blue one for physical boosting, and a green one for mental boosting), Cross looked into his stash to realize that he only has a couple days worth of medication left.  Now low on food, supplies, and ammunition, Cross must now find a way to get back to America and survive against Treadstone long enough to find a way to counterattack their onslaught.

Let me start with the most obvious flaw here: Tony Gilroy.  Looking at his filmography, you would think he would be the best man for the job here.  He was credited as co-writer for the three previous Bourne movies, he wrote and directed the Oscar-winning drama-thriller Michael Clayton as well as the 2008 caper film Duplicity.  I enjoyed all of those movies, and thinking that this one would be the same, made the mistake of thinking that it would be just as good.

Trust me, this couldn’t be any more of a dissapointment.  Everything wrong with this movie has everything to do with Gilroy’s script and direction, which couldn’t be more forced, erratic, confusing, and half-lapsed than this.

The problems start with the premise: a Jason Bourne movie without Jason Bourne is a bad enough idea.  But let’s take a step back here and try to be open with this.  Let’s just say, for facetious effort, that Aaron Cross’ story is just as fascinating and compelling as Bourne’s is.  What are the conflicts?  In his first three movies, Jason Bourne’s struggle was against his morality, identity, and the confronting of his past.  What is Cross’ magnificent, epic struggle?  Survival by trying to find a green pill.  If this movie dwelved any more into the conflict than it did, I would have said Cross was a junkie.

“Funny”, I think.  “I don’t remember these pills being used in the original trilogy”.  Correction: I vaguely remember them.  In a brief flashback sequence in The Bourne Ultimatum, I remember Jason Bourne taking a blue and green pill during his initiation into Treadstone (this memory is hazy though).  Bourne obviously didn’t need to take the pills further because his body adapted to the drugs.  Here, Cross is dependent on the drugs like a junkie is on cocaine, and if he doesn’t get his daily dose of the green pill, he’ll apparently revert to the level of intelligence of Forest Gump, according to him.

Okay, that’s fine.  Jason Bourne isn’t in the movie, check.  Super pills gives Cross super powers, check.  I would be able to buy the premise and its characters if A) it were handled well, or B) it was anywhere near as smart, interesting, or even remotely readable as it was to The Bourne Identity.  Here, instead of intelligence we get confusion, instead of cleverness we get forced easter eggs to earlier movies, and instead of interest we get on-the-nose, ham-fisted writing.  The editing in this film is choppy, leaping all over the place, jumping from one timeline to another, one flashback to the next, and it becomes so repetitive and convoluted throughout the picture that by halfway through I stopped caring about it.

Oh, I don’t deny Jeremy Renner is a knockout in this role.  Neither do I deny the talents of Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, and especially not Joan Allen or Albert Finney.  All of the performances are great, but the story is a complete wreck, and Gilroy clearly has no idea how to handle his premise or the cast he’s been given for this.  What more proof do you need, besides this convoluted script, an uninteresting story, and a tedious chase sequence at the end with a sharply abrupt cliffhanger?

This is exactly the reason why I hate sequels.  When done well, like the original Bourne trilogy, they are compelling, brilliant expansions furthering the story set up by the first one.  When done like this however, they are nothing but forced, awkward, nonsensical garbage.

Again, I ask this: why did this movie have to get made?  The Bourne Legacy is exactly what you expect it to be, a Bourne movie without Jason Bourne, equally without the compelling character drama or real conflict in it. And now they’re talking about a possible sequel to this mess.  Only if Jason comes back and kills Aaron Cross.  That’s the only way they can redeem themselves at this point.

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