Posts Tagged ‘paul greengrass

09
Jun
10

‘Bourne’ Dons Camo for the ‘Green Zone’

Mission Accomplished?

Starring Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleeson, Amy Ryan, Khalid Abdalla, and Yigal Naor. Directed by Paul Greengrass

Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass team up once again for what some would call ‘Bourne 4.’ (‘The Bourne Conspiracy’ maybe?) It’s not a ‘Bourne’ film per se but if the ‘Bourne’ series and ‘The Hurt Locker’ had it a kid, this would be it. That’s not entirely a bad thing.

Damon is Roy Miller, leader of the 85th Division whose job is to search for WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction). It’s 2003 and the U.S. has just began its war with Iraq. We’re bombing the country on a daily basis and have cut off the water and electricity, which isn’t making things any easier.

On an intensive mission into a hotspot, Damon and his company close-in on an abandoned factory to find… nothing. Returning to base he tries questioning some of the higher ups about the intel and the fact that every place his company is sent to is complete bunk; there are positively no signs that WMDs were ever there or manufactured there. The ranking Officers quickly shut him up, stating that the intel comes from a reliable source. Before heading to Al Monsour CIA official Martin Brown (Gleeson) tells him that yes, the intel is bunk and if he wants to do the right thing to give him a call.

Enter Special Intelligence official Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear). He’s heading up the group who plans to put an Iraqi exile in control of the Iraqi government now that Saddam has went into hiding. He’s also the guy responsible for informing the President that there were WMDs. Brown points out that in order to keep the country from going into civil war they need to put in place an Iraqi who has ties to the people, not a guy who has been in exile for 30 years. Poundstone doesn’t want to hear any of it and continues on.

Add to the mix Washington Post columnist Lawrie Dayne (Ryan). Poundstone is her source for information in regards to a character named “Magellan,” who is the one providing the intelligence on the Iraqi WMD sites. Dayne wants to speak with Magellan to confirm her stories and Poundstone claims that it’s out of his hands; Magellan is tightly locked-up. Dayne points out that as the guy overlooking Special Intelligence he should have access to Magellan; Poundstone doesn’t give an answer.

The Al Monsour site is being dug up and Miller is pissed. He knows that there’s nothing to find. When an altercation with an Iraqi named “Freddy” (Abdalla) leads him to follow a suggestion, Miller nearly comes face-to-face with the enemy: General Al Rawi (Naor), Saddam’s righ-hand man. It appears that several of the leaders of the Iraqi Army made a pledge to hold off from attacking the Americans until an agreement/contract could be made. Miller comes in on the tail-end of that deal and a firefight causes Al Rawi to go into hiding. Miller takes Freddy along as an interpreter so he can get the infamous “Jack of Clubs” (Rawi’s picture is on a deck of Iraqi leader playing cards).

After a prisoner Miller took hostage is taken from him, Miller goes to Brown who helps him devise a plan to get to a guy who can help him get to Rawi. They both believe that Rawi in control of Iraq will help bring peace. Dayne meets Miller and agrees with him that the WMD site info is complete B.S. and she makes mention of Magellan? Who is he? Poundstone finds out that Miller took a notebook from the prisoner he took and gave it to the CIA. That notebook contains the information on Al Rawi safehouses. It’s only a matter of time before Rawi is killed and if Miller’s going to save him, he’s going to have to act quickly.

This film is a spy film/political thriller with Army people. Damon isn’t so much ‘Bourne’ as he is a guy who actually cares and says, “Hey, what a minute! What’s going on here?” He’s not as smart as Bourne but he’s smart and agile enough, which are qualities he needs if being The Guy Who Gets Into a Conspiracy Against Those Higher Than His Paygrade. You know the scenario: guy finds something wrong. The Powers That Be try ignoring him at first but he gets under someone’s skin and people around him are killed left and right while the hunt is on for him, and he’s trying to get the piece of evidence that will blow the lid off everything.

This formula works for the film and provides interesting parameters. That is, the ones around him can’t really be killed because they all work for the same organization. Aside from that, it’s an action-adventure conspiracy movie that will have you guessing what will happen until the end.

And that may not work for a lot of people. I’m a fan of the “thinking movie,” and for those wanting emotional attachment to characters, you’re not going to find it here. The characters work but aren’t too deep because they are serving the story which acts as a fiction “What if this is the reason behind the war in Iraq?” I repeat: it’s fictional. Those wanting the hard, intensive grittiness of “The Hurt Locker” won’t find it here; no one stops to assess the damage done.

Gleeson is interesting as a CIA official and pulls off a non-descript accent fairly well. Kinnear works as the Special Intelligence official who leads us into the war but he could have been a little more evil. Amy Ryan is limited to being a third-wheel in it all, but works. And Damon has solidified his ability to be a “thinking” action star.

As I said, I liked it. Some films you walk out and while you like them, they’re popcorn; digest and move on. I would seriously consider seeing this film a second time because it’s more about the story being told than the sum of the characters in it. And yes, Greengrass breaks out the Shaky-Cam but after a while it becomes acceptable because there is a hint of truth to the story going on. A hint. Again, it’s a fictional “What If?” scenario that doesn’t stop until you know what happened and while not the hard-hitting piece that “Hurt Locker” or ones like it are, it doesn’t make it any less entertaining.

My grade: B+

Chas Andrews is a freelance writer, blogger, movie critic, what-have-you. Check out his hardboiled crime tale, The Big Adios, at http://aidencobb.blogspot.com

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21
Aug
09

Bourne Again

On a whim me and a friend decided to watch “The Bourne Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum” films. Here’s the rundown:

bourne_identity“The Bourne Identity” – Matt Damon stars as the main character, Jason Bourne, a spy found lying facedown in the ocean with two bullets in his back. When he awakes he has amnesia and must piece together who he is and/or was. His one clue to the past is a deposit box which has multiple passports, money, and a gun. This tips off the CIA who are looking for Bourne namely Conklin (Chris Cooper) who sent Bourne on a secret assassination mission that has blown-up in the CIA’s face and brought questioning by another person in-the-know, Ward Abbott (Brian Cox). Bourne enlists the help of Maria (Franka Potente) whom he pays $20,000 to take him to Paris where he hopes to find out more about Project Treadstone.

In Retrospect: I remember watching this movie and loving it, hyping myself up for the sequel. Looking back, it’s still a good movie but I don’t love it as much. At the time it came out (2002) it preceded the final Austin Powers movies as well as the last Pierce Brosnan “James Bond” movie, and this was a welcome change. Both franchises had run their course and Jason Bourne was a spy who didn’t really on gadgets or one-liners; the man could disarm and disable you in three seconds using only his thumb. It was new, fresh, innovative, and action-oriented WITH a story. Doug Liman directed the first film entry in the series and I’ll give him credit for what he did, but it does seem to pale against its sequels (and imitators).

 

 

bourne_supremacy“The Bourne Supremacy” – Classified Russian documents are stolen when a CIA operation is botched and Jason Bourne is framed. On the other side of the globe Bourne is living in India with Maria when he’s spotted and during the ensuing chase, Maria is killed. Bourne returns stateside to find out why he’s being hunted down. Memories of a secret mission that wasn’t part of Treadstone return in bits and pieces and he soon goes to Moscow, returning to the scene of the crime and confronting the hitman initially sent to kill him as well as apologizing to the daughter of the couple whom he assassinated. This time around he’s being tracked down by Pamela Landy (Joan Allen).

In Retrospect: I liked this movie as much as “Bourne Identity” when it came out, citing the fact that the extra car chase was “the cherry on top of an already good movie.” Re-watching it, I liked it even more than the first. Sure, the camerawork during the fight scenes can get a little crazy or choppy, but overall it kept a cohesive story amid all the chaos.

 

 

bourne_ultimatum“The Bourne Ultimatum” – A journalist for the UK paper The Guardian (Paddy Considine) has found out about Jason Bourne and is trying to expose him, along with information on a Top Secret project called Black Briar. Bourne has to get to the bottom of things and runs into Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) who happens to be working for the guy trying to sell the CIA secrets. Meanwhile, back at the ranch (CIA), Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) is honing in on the journalist when Bourne comes into the picture. Landy is sent in to help him with Bourne and, just in case, to be a scapegoat. Bourne must clear his name while trying to find out more information on Black Briar.

 

In Retrospect: I had such high hopes for this movie before I saw it in theatres. After watching it I wasn’t so much nauseous (major shaky-cam) as much as let down. It felt like an amalgamation of the other two Bourne films.

And I was partially right.

I’m reminded of a quote John Carpenter said about sequels which went something to the effect of people want the same movie over again. Sitting back and watching the other two Greengrass, as well as scriptwriters Scott Z. Burns and George Nolfi, seemed to look at “The Bourne Identity” and say, “We can just use THIS script again!” Replace Chris Cooper with David Stathairn, Brian Cox with Albert Finney, Clive Owen with Joey Ansah, and even Franka Potente with Julia Stiles, and you have “The Bourne Identity Deux.”

And to make matters worse is the 1:20 (hrs:mins) point, where we find out that everything we’ve been watching takes place before the end of “Supremacy.” So, while Bourne was busy discovering why he was framed and avenging the death of his wife, he ALSO had time to find out about the other Black Ops Program, Black Briar. Did any of these guys think about this while it was happening, or just hope to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes? Fool me once, shame on me; I didn’t get fooled the second time.

 

THE WINNER: “The Bourne Supremacy.” A good blend of action-adventure with a plot and storyline.

 “The Bourne Identity” still holds, but not as well as “Supremacy.” “The Bourne Ultimatum?” More horrible than when I first watched it.