Friday, October 19, 2012

Film Pairing — The Expectations Game, A Hit And A Miss

Bourne IV, lots of action, but more plot
I went to see The Bourne Legacy because I had seen the first three Bournes and enjoyed them. I went see the first three because Matt Damon was in them, because the formula was entertaining, and because it grabbed me at minute one and didn’t let go until the credits.  I love vacations.  I had lowered expectations for The Bourne Legacy.  I was pretty sure it would be the last gasp, that the people who owned the rights were squeezing the last bit of toothpaste from the tube, that the story would be forced.  Not so.  While the action slowed a tiny bit, the story was richer and than its predecessors.  While Jeremy Renner is no Matt Damon, he didn’t have to nor did he try to be.  He created a separate, perhaps more believable character with clear motivation in a believable story (well as much as they can be in these super-hero movies).  Fine performances by Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton and Albert Finney contributed to the high quality of this half-removed sequel. Congratulations go to director Tony Gilroy and to Eric Van Lustbader who picked up the Bourne series after creator Robert Ludlum’s death.

A Must See for Christopher Walken Fans
I went to see Seven Psychopaths because it was directed by Martin McDonagh, who directed one of my favorite films, In Bruges, and because Christopher Walken was in it.    What could go wrong?  For many, I read, not a lot went wrong.  Madmen chatting and arguing in between bloody murders, with moments of dark, deapan humor.  Unlike The Bourne Legacy where I expected little and got a lot, with Seven Psychopaths I expected a lot, and got a disjointed story with spotty humor and no one, save Walken, to care for.  Frankly, I didn’t even like the dog.  The film has a highly regarded cast.  In addition to Walken, we get a wonderfully quirky (I mean this in a good way) and talented cast: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits and Harry Dean Stanton.  For me, that wasn’t enough.  It didn’t hold together. Sometimes this happens when the director is also the producer and the writer.  There’s nobody there to say, “wait a minute.”  On the other hand, there are those who believe that under the surface silliness and confusion, there is a sendup of psychopath killer-based Hollywood films.  Maybe, I missed something.  But I think Kill Bill already did that.

Both movies are in the theaters now.  And certainly The Bourne Legacy is well worth seeing on the biggest screen possible.  Seven Psychopaths is entertaining enough — the actors are fun to watch — for a rental or a download.

To accompany the films, one might have a few sips of brandy to take the chill off the opening of Legacy and then switch to beer for Seven Psychopaths as you pal around with Colin Farrell’s character, a writer keeping track of the psychos who is never without a bottle in his hand.

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