The Bourne Legacy is the latest installment of the Tony Gilroy legacy, which has consisted of some of my favorite action films: The Bourne Identity, the Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, Proof of Life and Michael Clayton. For a fourth film in the series, it’s amazing how entertaining it is to see familiar details and snippets from the last Bourne film, the same exciting score that evokes action and excitement and has come to scream international espionage.
What is perhaps most intriguing about this film is that the formula is mostly unchanged. This is about a rogue agent who is chemically and genetically enhanced both physically and mentally and who is targeted by his handlers for termination. He inadvertently involves a pretty woman and they kick and punch their way to redemption, while building their relationship. As repetitive as this seems……it works. The other strange thing is that what was a 28 year old hero when Matt Damon began as Jason Bourne….gets replaced by a 42 yer old Jeremy Renner…..and it still works. How does that happen and still work. Great writing and directing.
Renner’s squeeze is played by Rachel Weisz…a real pro at this sort of role and both very talented and young enough to fit the role. I consider both Renner and Weisz to be casting risks that payed off, so agin, more power to Tony Gilroy.
The Bourne franchise is the Bridgewater of film. It is a global franchise that produces year in and year out. There is no series I will ALWAYS make time to watch like a Bourne. Institutional I vectors can’t get enough of Bridgewater and moviegoers can’t get enough of Bourne. Neither will win any awards or want any, but both will do the job and mint money.
[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] T [/dropcap] he Avengers is the latest Stan Lee Marvel extravaganza….only this time they have enlisted the writer of Toy Story, Josh Whedon to co-write and direct (with an assist by Zak Penn of The Hulk and X-Men). That creative dialogue introduction combines with an all-star cast that is mostly pre-branded as the various super heroes. I this way, we start out loving and not having yet seen enough of these heroes and yet we get the bonus of watching them interact AND save the world from Loki.
First there’s Captain America played by Chris Evans. His debut was as Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011 and in general this least “super” of the super heroes is set up as the leader of the band. Then there’s Iron Man played hilariously by Robert Downey Jr. He provides half of the film’s humor through sideways one-liners just as he did in the other Iron Man films. Mark Ruffalo is Bruce Banner, a.k.a. The Hulk, who surprisingly provides the other 50% of the humor (only a Toy Story guy cold make THAT work). Scarlett Johansson is the Russian Black Widow, who kicks ass almost as much as her ass kicks ass as the director gives us repeated walk-away shots to admire the Scarlett derrière. Cobie Smulders smoulders for those who need their fix of 2012 brunettes (it is a 2012 phenom). Meanwhile Chris Hemsworth as THOR and Jeremy Renner as tough-guy Hawkeye round out the cast.
Here’s the good news….you are getting a full-bore cast and story here that is easily the best all-around super hero movie I’ve ever seen….by a long shot. Here’s the bad news….despite the obvious sequel-inducing ending where we preview the next anti-Avenger, there is almost nothing left to make you think this can be improved on. Imagine putting all your alpha into your first trade…..I think that may be where Josh Whedon showed us his Pixar naïveté. Imagine a hedge fund manager leaving nothing for his next 2% + 20% event?
[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] M [/dropcap] I Ghost Protocol is exactly what you know it will be….it’s a Tom Cruise action extravaganza that brings several big screen stunts to the table to create that special, not cerebral, but rather, visceral reaction from the audience. It does this so well that when it ended, the audience I was in (albeit in Southern California), gave it an open ovation of applause….something I think of as reserved for cultish films and surprise dark horses.
The big money shots are Tom Cruise climbing and falling off of The Burj, blowing up The Kremlin and outrunning a Dubai sandstorm. The amazing thing remains that Cruise still does all his own stunts, and where he gets older and richer, they get nothing but harder. That detail alone makes Cruise action flicks interesting to watch. And I must say, I liked the theme of ” No plan. No back-up. No choice.”
The MI Ghost Protocol team consists of Jeremy Rennet, Simon Peggy and Paula Patton, all of whom do a perfectly fine job of playing color commentators and straight men/women to Cruise’s lead. Brad Bird of Pixar fame directs the movie and keeps the pacing fast and the action high tension.
The story is at the heart of every opening scene of any IMF movie or TV show…..”should you or any of your IM force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge.”. Well…..he does that right up front, you then get a few added and u expected twists and surprises that even the Secretary didn’t count on.
Seeing Moscow, Dubai and then Mumbai in this film seems very symbolic. We all got on the IMF bandwagon while the other IMF was worried about how to recycle petrodollars from the likes of Dubai to the likes of Mumbai. Now that Emerging Markets are all the rage in hedge fund investing (no other class of funds has more consistently been in the top three over the last done years), it’s fair to say that money is more likely to flow from Mumbai from the likes of the Ambani’s to Dubai to shore up their over-building of ego projects like The Burj and the Dubai World Islands (which are slowly sinking back ion the sea). And as for The Kremlin, I think seeing it blow up is just about as realistic as Russia’s economic fate…..
So Cruise has spanned the globe again and done the big stunts, so give him a break for old time sake and set aside your boredom thoughts about another Mission Impossible……just accept the mission and go see it like you know you want to.