Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mille Bournes

Spoiler Warnings, all right?

Watched the first two Bourne films last night and tonight. Didn't so much care for the first - it was solid and extremely well done, but by structuring it as a mystery when everyone in the theater knows the premise from the opening credits - was a mistake. It also makes you wonder just how smart Jason Bourne is supposed to be, when he:

- wakes up on a table to hear that he has been found drifting off the coast of France in a wetsuit with bullets in his back and a freaking laser embedded in the skin below his neck that when activated, projects a Swiss bank account number on the nearest available surface and doesn't immediately work out that he's probably some kind of, you know, secret agent or something?

- Or when he examines the contents of the account box and finds that it contains what looks to be millions of dollars in many international currencies, several passports from different countries under many different names, and (gee!) a gun? Secret agent, maybe?

- Or maybe when he goes to the American embassy and they try to arrest him? No red flags, J.B.?

- Or how about the fact that he has ultra-sahrp memory and survival skills, and inbred hand-to-hand combat training? Has he never seen a Bond movie? Does Bond not exist as a fiction in the Bourne world?

- Or that it's clear that highly trained and well armed people are trying to kill him? Hmmmmm?

And still, an hour in, when he and Franke Potente reach his huge, spectacular yet obviously sterile and impersonal apartment in Paris, he looks through his belongings and says, huh. "Looks like I might be in shipping." Dear God, no.

Anyway, the action kicks in after that, and so The Bourne Identity is overall okay. Takes itself way to seriously, though.

The Bourne Ultimatum is substantially better, because:

- it's a revenge film, so rather than be dragged down solely in trying to further solve the mystery of his identity, the plot manages to tie that journey in with a very good story of international intrigue,

- Bourne himself is really put through the wringer, and earns more of your sympathy... which is needed, because as the film progresses, we learn that he did a lot of unsympathetic things.

- The action is well-paced and well-placed, not being too front loaded or uneven, and avoiding too many slow spots.

The criticisms:

- The last third of the film is essentially one long chase scene, from Potsdamer Platz in Berlin to a traffic tunnel in Moscow, with most of the police force of both cities, as well as CIA agents both legit and rogue, and the hired assassin of a Russian oil magnate on his tail.

- By taking away anyone he can talk to - did I mention that they kill his girlfriend in the first act? - you've... well, you've taken away anyone he can talk to, which leaves the reasoning of some of his actions towards the latter part of the film more than a little vague.

Still, I'm on board for the third one. In fact, I'm going to call this and head over to my Blockbuster Online account and put it in my 'queue.' No jokes, please.


No comments: