Tag Archives: Rachel Weisz

“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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Follow the yellow brick road down the rabbit hole.  

I was five years old when I saw Victor Fleming’s The Wizard Of Oz for the first time in my life. I remember that exact moment like it was yesterday. My mother held me in her lap, our dog Sandy lay in mine, my father was laying on his couch sipping a cup coffee, and they would both tell me all the wonderful memories they have of watching that movie growing up. Those memories would eventually become mine as I now recount all of the joyous times I was transported to Oz every time I watched that fantasy classic. I would eventually go on to name that film as one of  best movies ever made.

Now here I am, 15 years later, recounting my memories of watching the original and am now watching its prequel Oz: The Great and Powerful”and judging it with the same fairness as I did with the original. My verdict? It’s a good prequel, but Oz fell a little too far down the rabbit hole if you know what I mean.

Preceding the events of the fantasy classic The Wizard Of Oz by whatever-something-amount-of-years, Oz: The Great and Powerful follows the story of Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a struggling magician in a traveling circus who dreams of rising above mediocrity and amounting to greatness in the world.

Unfortunately, Diggs is also a crook and a womanizer. When he escapes a few enraged circus freaks by stealing a hot air balloon, he’s gets trapped in a whirling tornado that transports him to a place he’s never seen — Oz, the wonderful land of munchkins, emeralds and yellow brick roads. It is here where Diggs discovers he’s part of an ancient prophecy: that a wizard named after the land of Oz will descend onto the land, and free the people from the tyranny and evil of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Here is a movie that functions as an appropriate prequel, a good movie that actually fits into the magnificent story of The Wizard Of Oz  and makes it work within the established timeline. Co-Written by Tony award-winning writer David Lindsay-Abaire (who wrote both his stage and screen adaptations of Rabbit Hole), the plot in Oz: The Great and Powerful can be defined in adjectives to the first movie: traditional. Imaginary. Creative. Dynamic. Classic. Every piece fits into this puzzle, and ultimately adds up to what is a straightforward prequel that provides background for the first movie, even if it wasn’t needed before.

The cast is strong here as well, with James Franco shining the most out of a cast list that consists mostly of women. Here he portrays a spirited man, a man full of charisma and humor that makes the screen vibrate with his very presence. Both his energy, his passion and his kindness is contagious with other characters, and the end result is a near-flawless chemistry with every character on-screen (with the exclusion of the Wicked Witch of the West, who I felt was severely miscast in this film. I dare not spoil it though by telling you who it is).

As a movie and as a prequel, this film succeeds. The plot is enjoyable, the cast is skilled in both vocal and physical performance and the visual effects reach out and dazzle you with its many bright colors and details that instantly transport you to a land of fantasy and wonder (Even though it is a little too resemblant of the art direction in Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland).

The biggest problem with the film, however, is its balance. Director Sam Raimi (who is most known for the Evil Dead and Spider-man trilogies) is the visual effects master behind this film, but unfortunately, he depends too much on it. The most enjoyable moments of this film involved Oscar displaying his joy and humor through his energetic and witty dialogue with other characters, which was both affectionate and entertaining at the same time. Everything else was overdone, and at times Raimi depends on the visual aspect of his film as if its the only thing it has going for it.

The last 40 minutes of the film especially becomes so redundant and prolonged, dragging out a scene of conflict between the munchkins and the witches just to provide action and flashy effects. This part of the film doesn’t seem to have purpose or motivation in mind, and the reptition of visual effects and CGI eventually becomes dizzying and nauseating.

My recommendation: Don’t go into this movie expecting it to be the masterpiece that The Wizard Of Oz is. You’re setting yourself up for disappointment and inevitable failure. Instead, see Oz: The Great and Powerful for what it is: a charming, ambient and lively prequel to the original fantasy classic made 74 years after its original release. When looking through that perspective, the return to Oz couldn’t be more glorious, even though the yellow brick road now looks more like a green screen rather than a stage set.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,