Sunday, August 12, 2012

Movie Review: The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Trilogy was a nice trio of action films, but how could Jason Bourne continue without Matt Damon? Well, it could if the hero wasn't Jason Bourne but newcomer Aaron Cross (played by Jeremy Renner). Yet, after seeing The Bourne Legacy, it's clear that continuing a franchise takes a lot more than another actor playing a similar character.

As The Bourne Legacy opens, Aaron Cross is stuck in the Alaskan wilderness, surviving on his wits and being chased by a pack of wolves. At the same time in Washington, they find that a British reporter has compromised all of their secret programs. Led by Colonel Eric Byer (Edward Norton), his top-secret governmental agency seeks to eradicate all of the black ops programs. Cross is a member of Operation Outcome (Bourne was part of Treadstone) where operatives take blue pills to enhance their mental capabilities and green pills to enhance the physical. Yet Byer wants all operatives eliminated. Cross is about the only one they can't get rid of.

While in Alaska, he runs out of pills and needs a new supply if he's going to outrun Byer's henchmen. He finds Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) who has just narrowly escaped being killed in a rampage by a fellow co-worker (Zeljko Ivenek). She explains that he no longer needs the green pills because he has 'viraled off' of them. If they can get to Manila, where the pills are manufactured, she can viral him off of the blue pills so he will no longer need them either.

I wanted to like this movie but several things prevented that from happening. First, the Alaskan portion seemed to go on forever. Second, the scenes with Norton and in the 'control room' are bogged down with so many acronyms and technical jargon that I lost interest. Third, there is a parallel story about  Jason Bourne's whereabouts that really has nothing to do with the story. 

Fourth, yes, there is a fourth. There are the questions. Why again, was Cross traipsing around the Alaskan wilderness?  Why did the doctor go ballistic and massacre all of his co-workers? Where is Jason Bourne and what does that have to do with anything?

Renner, Weisz, Norton et. al. were solid as actors. It was Tony Gilroy (writer of the Bourne trilogy) who seemed to drop the ball as the director. The first half-hour his idea of creating a fast-pace is jetting across the globe and letting us know by placing the locations in the lower right-corner of the screen. The alphabet soup of acronyms and tech talk didn't help.

I don't know if there will be a fifth Bourne. I didn't think we needed a fourth one. However, if they do a fifth one, I hope to see Renner and Weisz but maybe someone else behind the director's chair. 

Movie Review: The Campaign

I was sold the first time I saw a trailer for The Campaign. Zack Galifianakis and Will Ferrell in the same movie! I was in. I was also nervous because where there is the potential for great reward; there is also the potential for great disappointment. I went into The Campaign hoping that I wouldn't be sorely disappointed. I wasn't.

Incumbent congressman Cam Brady (Will Farrell) loves being in office and being re-elected is easy, since he usually runs unopposed ... until now. Big-time industrialists, the Moher brothers (John Lithgow and Dan Ackroyd) want to move their Chinese factory to the U.S. with the same low wages and lack of environmental regulations and governmental controls. To make this happen, they need a congressman. Cam Brady might have been their man but a recent scandal (he left a vulgar voicemail for his mistress on the answering machine of a devout Christian family) has rocked his campaign. They need an opponent and they find one in Marty Huggins. He runs the town tourism bus and is the son of a major politico. With the help of campaign manager Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott), Marty's innocence soon gives way to a no-holds-barred win-at-all-cost battle.

First of all, this is an R-rated comedy. The 'R' definitely stands for raunchy as the language and the subject matter isn't for the faint of heart. However, if you like your comedies with a high raunch factor, you will probably enjoy The Campaign, I know I did. There were many, many laugh out loud moments and we laughed loud and often.

Ferrell and Galifianakis delivered laughs throughout. I was surprised that Dylan McDermott could be funny but he was. At the same time Saturday Night Live alum Jason Sudeikis, along with Lithgow and Ackroyd actually played it pretty straight. 

This is a funny, slapstick and completely low-brow affairs. People going in expecting incisive political commentary or satire will be sorely disappointed. Of course, what did they expect from Ferrell, Galifianakis and director Jay Roach? This is not at all an intellectual affair.

Yet, if you like your comedies silly and you enjoy a good laugh, you'll probably like (if not love), The Campaign. I might even have to add it to my DVD collection.

Monday, August 6, 2012

What I'm Seeing: August

August is normally the stepchild of the summer movie season. Frankly, most of the best movies have been released before now. Normally, it is one of the months I dread as a moviegoer (but nothing is worse than January!). Yet, here I am, excited about a handful of movies coming out in the next few weeks. Expect reviews of the following:

The Bourne Legacy: Jeremey Renner takes over the Bourne franchise from Matt Damon (the series that turned him into an action hero). Renner doesn't play Jason Bourne but a stronger, faster, and even deadlier operative, Aaron Cross. Along for the ride are Edward Norton and Rachel Weisz. I'm really looking forward to this one! (August 10)

The Campaign: Zach Galifianakis versus Will Ferrell. Seriously??? And, they are running for Congress? Really??? This has to be funny. It just has to be! (August 10).

Hope Springs: This one just looks cute. Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones go to Steve Carell for marital advice. The trailer sold me. I hope it doesn't disappoint. (August 8)

Sparkle: This remake marks Whitney Houston's swan song and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks acting debut. I grew up with the soundtrack so I'll go for that alone and to bid a fond farewell to Whitney. (August 17)

Lawless: Not a huge Shia LeBeouf fan but my British crush Tom Hardy is in this one and his beautiful face isn't obscured behind a mask for the entire film (Dark Knight Rises). Anyway, this will be a welcome dose of drama to send my summer of popcorn flicks. (August 29)