Wednesday, August 17, 2016

JASON BOURNE -- My review

I’ve seen all the Bourne films and I don’t remember them being as stupid as JASON BOURNE. Am I right?

Especially the first two. They seemed to have actual “stories.” Yes, there was plenty of action, but we really cared about this guy and his search for identity. There were elements of the plot that even appeared, well… “plausible.”

Then there was a Bourne movie without Bourne. That’s like going to a concert and hearing, “Singing tonight for Barbra Streisand will be Brittney Spears, but don’t worry, she’ll do ‘People.’”

And now, after an absence of nine years, Matt Damon returns, which is cause for rejoicing except… this movie makes no sense.

Don’t worry, no SPOILER ALERT. There is no plot. It’s a two-hour trailer.

Jason Bourne is usually so smart. You can’t outthink him. He has amazing instincts. He just KNOWS who not to trust. And yet, this time he got suckered. Not by the CIA, not by lovely Alicia Vikander, but by writer/director Paul Greengrass. Where was Matt Damon’s good buddy Ben Affleck to warn him of this turkey? Oh wait. He was off making BATMAN V SUPERMAN.

There seems to be a new trend in chase scenes and action sequences – editing so fast that you’re completely disoriented. Trading adrenaline for logic. There used to be storyboards. Each shot was carefully planned. Now it seems they throw shots in completely at random. And with a shaky camera to further throw you off. This was a typical sequence in JASON BOURNE:

A car speeding, a tire, an explosion, feet running, a bridge, a building on fire, a crash, two eyes, a crowd chanting, Alicia Vikander, six cars colliding, helicopter shot of the city, windows shattering, a tanker exploding, whip pan of headlights, car sailing in the air, a bank of twenty monitors, car going down the wrong side of the highway, surveillance camera shot, close up of Tommy Lee Jones but from MEN IN BLACK.

Yes, these sequences are more frenetic, but if you can’t follow the chase you lose the suspense. Now suspense used to be important in thrillers. But then again, so did dialogue, and storytelling.

And then there is the creative license we all must buy. Like how come there seem to be surveillance cameras everywhere that can even track Bourne in a crowd or through a window, and yet, after he escapes from a big action sequence he can walk anywhere he wants in London and Berlin without so much as his collar turned up and no one seems to care or be looking for him? He’s “off the grid.” Everyone in the CIA wears an earpiece and can hear everyone else crystal clear even in riot scenes and engine screaming chase scenes. Alicia Vikander can sit in a situation room, watch her laptop, and tell operatives that the “target is fifteen seconds away.” Wow. She should win her second Oscar for that. And a chase scene at night on the Vegas Strip would have to go one-mile-an-hour because anyone who has ever been there knows it’s bumper-to-bumper from the Venetian to Reno.

Asking the audience to accept creative license is one thing; asking them to get a lobotomy before entering the theater is another.

That said, this movie is action-packed, Matt Damon is always good, Tommy Lee Jones plays yet another untrustworthy slimy villain (why Ameritrade would make him their company spokesman I will never know), and you see some great international beauty shots that were left on the cutting room floor from James Bond movies.

And in fairness, maybe I’m a little biased because I still feel my movie, VOLUNTEERS should have been considered the first of the Bourne movies. So what if our lead was Lawrence Bourne?

What did you guys all think?

27 comments:

B.A. said...

I haven't seen the movie but I remember Robert Ludlum's Bourne novels. Lot of screaming in italics...this movie may be an accurate interpretation of the book.

Peter said...

Ken, you should have gone to see Suicide Squad instead! I haven't seen Jason Bourne yet but I doubt it's as entertaining as Suicide Squad!

Spielberg is still the master of action directing. One has only to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark to see his genius. It is the most beautifully formed and flawless action film ever put to celluloid. The problem you describe with Jason Bourne is the problem that afflicts 99% of all action films now. Ridiculous amounts of shakeycam, hyperactive editing, excessive close-ups and a barrage of noise mixed poorly with the film's score. Directors should be made to watch Raiders before making an action film to learn how to do it properly. A perfect example is the chase where Indy ends up hanging on the front of a truck, slides underneath and gets back in and has a fight with the Nazi. Spielberg covers it from only a few angles, most of the shots last longer than 10 seconds, the sound mix balances the music and sound effects perfectly, and the result is that the viewer can see everything that's happening and doesn't get motion sickness.

I don't know if some directors shoot and edit the way they do because they assume everyone in the audience has a 2 second attention span, but it makes for shitty cinema.

Roseann said...

I fully agree, Ken, no story line. Fast, choppy editing and shakey camera is a sure giveaway to sloppy fast work. I don't think they used a sticks or a dolly for even one shot. I think that only one take was needed for any shot: "New Deal/Moving on".....

RyderDA said...

Nikki gone bad? Nikki gone bad causes Bourne to "come back" to fight? The CIA can track him with cameras coming into a building but not leaving it? A car chase scene where hundreds -- if not thousands -- of civilians would have been killed or maimed by a SWAT truck careening up a crowded road? Evac the packed hotel but no one is our front when the bad guy and Bourne run out? A SWAT truck is stolen and no mention on the radio, but the second Bourne borrows a Charger the exact description and license are on the radio? They can't track the SWAT truck? You can control a computer from a cell phone in a room?

WTF?

I loved Bourne 1, 2 and even 3. The re-boot was strange but filmed in my neighbourhood (with friends of mine as extras) so OK. But I ask myself what will Bourne 6 be, and why?

Wendy M. Grossman said...

The surveillance cameras thing is particularly hilarious because London is the CAPITAL of CCTV. It's estimated that Londoners are caught on camera at least 20 times a day.

wg
(Have not seen the movie and don't plan to.)

blinky said...

This movie has an eerie similarity to TV's A-Team. After being shot, stabbed, smashed and in several near death car/motorcycle crashes, Bourne can fight a death match for 15 minutes and walk away.
Jack Bower used to do similar feats in 24, getting stabbed, poison gassed and just shaking it off.
I would love to read Joe Bob Briggs Drive-in Movie review of this Bourne bust: 19 Fist Fights, 150 smashed cars, elevator-fu, 5 gratuitous aerial shots of the Vegas Strip, 0 breasts. 3 stars. Joe Bob say check it out.

Daniel said...

Regarding your comments on modern action sequences: Say what you will about "Batman v Superman" (I happen to love it and think it's extremely underrated), but Zack Snyder knows how to direct an action sequence. It's visually stunning and you're never in doubt about the geography of a scene.

Michael Collington said...

Psst...you're not the target audience, gramps.

Unkystan said...

This is true. The target audience has zero attention span and watches movies on their phones.

Ralph C. said...

Just imagine if they used today's chase scene filming style in a movie like, um, "The French Connection"?

norm said...

Yeah what M. Collington said: We over 50yo are not the audience for anything now, just a plain Jane voter the Dems/Reps want come Nov. then bye, bye.

Pat Quinn said...

Lawrence Bourne the third.

Chris Barr said...

Being older even than Ken, I'm obviously not the target audience either - but I actually liked it. It is what it is, and I was entertained. And Matt Damon gets a Free Pass. Are there movies I like better? Sure, hundreds. But I didn't feel offended or ripped off or anything of the sort. (It was Suicide Squad that I loathed and was bored by...)

Adam said...

I sort-of agree about the movie -- and I AM in the target audience. On the other hand, two hours spent looking at Matt Damon is always time well spent.

Andrew said...

Ken, concerning this: "after he escapes from a big action sequence he can walk anywhere he wants in London and Berlin without so much as his collar turned up and no one seems to care or be looking for him."

I remember having the same reaction to The Fugitive, although it was still a great movie (and ironically also starring Tommy Lee Jones). The Harrison Ford character just walks all over Chicago, despite being a wanted man made famous by the murder of his wife and his prison/train escape. He even visits his former hospital. Not one average Joe Schmo in Chicago noticed him?

MikeN said...

The Bourne movies started the trend of frenetic edited action sequences. Not sure how this will be different.
As for plot, it is hard to tell the first three Bourne movies apart.

The Bourne books are much better. The first book somehow has all the scenes from the movie with a totally different plot. I think it's what we would have seen if they had cast Ben Affleck.

Guffman said...

Just returned from a vacation in central Europe. There were Bourne posters on every block, every kiosk in the major cities. Our tour guide in Budapest said the Bourne movies are bigger there than in America. Dialogue isn't especially necessary - just plenty of action and great location shots. Maybe you're expecting too much, Ken.

Michael said...

I haven't seen it and won't, but I live in Las Vegas, and Ken's is the best description of Strip traffic I have seen since the sign, "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."

MikeK.Pa. said...

Spot on. When I saw Tony Gilroy didn't do the screenplay, I knew I was in trouble. To your point, the CIA can pinpoint Bourne in crowded Greek streets, yet somehow, the next scene he's riding on a train to Berlin. What, no surveillance cameras in train stations anymore? Tommy Lee Jones has been mailing in this type of character since THE FUGITIVE. This felt like a retread of the first entry in this series.

Earl Boebert said...

Blinky said:

"This movie has an eerie similarity to TV's A-Team."

I once went to a writer's conference where both Richard Mathesons (father and son) spoke. The son was a writer on the A-Team, which he described as the only show on TV where you could have a helicopter fly into a cliff and the next line of dialog is "Are you OK?"

VP81955 said...

"Suicide Squad" is the anti-"Guardians of the Galaxy," according to noted script doctor (and my former instructor) Peter Russell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lta6gKLQhg

Nick said...

Ken, you should have gone to see Suicide Squad instead! I haven't seen Jason Bourne yet but I doubt it's as entertaining as Suicide Squad!

I liked SUICIDE SQUAD better than JASON BOURNE. Every time I see the Joker trotted, though, I always find myself wondering why somebody doesn't beat the son of a bitch to death with a baseball bat. I mean, he has to have wiped out the population of Gotham City two or three times over by now. Hell, he may be gaining on wiping out the entire population of the earth. Keeping him -- or any other Batman villain -- locked up in the asylum seems to be an impossible task. The place apparently has the worst security imaginable. So he walks around freely, death on two legs, killing dozens of people everywhere he goes. And no one seems to be able to do anything to stop him. Nobody seems to be able to just club the bastard to death with a heavy piece of pipe. Least of all Batman, who's always too busy agonizing over his moral code and whether or not it would be wrong to take the law into his own hands to do anything. Meanwhile, while Batman is agonizing, the Joker just wiped out the entire eastern seaboard.

I liked SUICIDE SQUAD, though.

David Arnott said...

MikeK Pa:
"When I saw Tony Gilroy didn't do the screenplay, I knew I was in trouble"

Yup. Also, this one isn't based on any of the book. I loved the first three movies - was really disappointed with this one. And yeah, the camera work/direction here seems extra Greengrass-y. (though in fairness, I really like almost all of his other films).

Mike Doran said...

Andrew:

Remember, Harrison Ford has a scruffy beard and a greasy-kid-stuff pompadour in the first third or so of The Fugitive.
He grabs a shave and fluffs out his hair just before he joins the St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Perfect disguise, I know ...

Marco said...

The Bond movie "Quantum Of Solace" suffers from the same problem: insane editing. I have nothing against fast editing nor usage of "shaky cam". But if you can't follow the action anymore at all - wtf?! I feel betrayed and get angry in the movie because of that and the named QoS is the only Bond movie I know where I am always happy when the action sequences are over. Same here with "Jason Bourne" ... the other movies were action-packed and fast edited and all of that - but I could always follow what's going on.

I like the movie in general - as I generally like QoS ... but I am sick of the shaky-cam-overloads.

Jon B. said...

I've enjoyed all of the earlier Bourne movies--including the one without Damon, which was directed by the writer of the movies with Damon. The new one? C- at best. When I watch it umpty-ump times on TV in the future, maybe I'll be able to discern a plot.

Ken, did you notice the movie had two of the stars of THE NIGHT OF? Pleasant surprise. The only one.

Stephen Gallagher said...

When a writer directs you've a better chance of a well-formed movie than when a director writes. Which is the difference between the first Bourne and the latest.