Tag Archives: paul greengrass

Jason Bourne (2016) Review

“Jason Bourne” sees the reluctant super-spy facing his deadliest foe yet: the irrefutable sense of unnecessariness.

When Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) reaches out to an isolated and off-grid David Webb Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), it kicks off a chain of events that leads the CIA to try once again to capture or kill the errant spy. Meanwhile, a secret collaboration between the state and private sector nears its fruition.

In its desperation to find something topical to justify its existence, “Jason Bourne” ends up rehashing the exact same plot McGuffin which propelled “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and – in a  slightly more bloated and boring way – “SPECTRE”, but it does so in a lazy and unfocussed way, failing to land any of its flailing punches on its thematic target.

The whole film reeks of obligation which is hardly a surprise given Damon and director Paul Greengrass’ longstanding reluctance to return to the franchise. Universal’s relentless pursuit of the pair fails to pay dividends though as they both phone it in for this flat and lethargic sequel.

The shakycam gets old really fast, which is the only fast thing about this tedious movie that manages to take the stripped down kinetic action which is Bourne’s trademark and make it feel dull and repetitive. Even the set piece car chase through the streets of Vegas feels monotonous and pointless as the truck ploughs through traffic which is clearly made of flimsy shells. Nothing has weight, from the plot to the props.

Even the usually effervescent Alicia Vikander fails to enliven proceedings and Tommy Lee Jones – who has clearly entered the anything for a payday phase of his career – picks up another cheque for a few days of weary hangdog mumbling.

The Bourne series’ continued reliance on the idea that there are secret black ops projects within projects within projects has become a millstone around its neck, as the idea that the US Government’s intelligence services are constructed like a set of bureaucratic Matryoshka dolls strains credibility at this point. Jason Bourne’s story is done. It was over at the end of “Ultimatum” and the constant grasping for a reason for Bourne to be involved gives this movie a chore identity.


Captain Phillips (2013) Review

When I first saw a trailer for “Captain Phillips”, I wasn’t bowled over. I only had a passing familiarity with the real events the film was based on, and the lacklustre title combined with an underwhelming trailer gave me the impression of a Discovery Channel special with talking heads and stagey reconstructions, stretching out thirty minutes of actual content into two hours of repeatedly recapped programming.

But a friend persisted in championing it and eventually there came a choice between finally capitulating and seeing “Captain Phillips” or going to see “Delivery Man”. Having just endured “The Internship”, it was a no-brainer and I now find myself also indebted to Vince Vaughan’s lack of range because without the prospect of having to sit through another film where he plays the exact same character, I would never have gone to see Paul Greengrass’ absorbing thriller.

Far from being a documentary style, dry retelling of the experiences of the attempted hijacking of the Maersk Alabama, Director Paul Greengrass has crafted an enthralling, tense high seas adventure which works as a straight-up thriller as well as a thought-provoking true-life story. Despite the very modern trappings of the story, there is still an element of swashbuckle here, with Captain Phillips using his skill and experience to first see off the pirates then thwart their attempted takeover of the ship. Based on real events, this is not really a biopic: we learn very little about the captain and crew of the Maersk Alabama or the pirates themselves beyond seeing how they cope with the situations which arise. Instead, the story is king: we are witness to the events and the people involved in them and from the initial skirmishes to the boarding of the ship and through to the kidnap and escape in the lifeboat, the film powers along with confidence, fuelled by stellar performances and never once sagging despite its lengthy two and a quarter-hour running time.

Oscar-nominated Barkhad Adbi is superb as the complex, conflicted pirate leader Abduwali Muse, infusing his performance with an intensity and quiet desperation while Faysal Ahmed’s Najee provides a combustible, vicious element to the pirate crew, threateneing to spiral out of control at any minute. However, this is Tom Hanks’ film and he is at the absolute top of his game here. His performance as Phillips, especially in the post-rescue breakdown scene, is so full of raw, genuine emotional honesty that it’s baffling  he was overlooked for the Best Actor Oscar this year while Christian Bale’s showy, insincere (and ultimately costume-driven) performance in “American Hustle” got the nod. The work Hanks does in the last ten minutes of “Captain Phillips” is the best performance this reviewer has seen all year.

Ignoring the murmurs that the story portrays Captain Phillips more favourably than real life events and judging it on its merits as a film, this as a superb seafaring thriller, based on actual events and populated by expert actors giving their very finest performances.