Do the Bourne movies make any sense? Enough. The first three films — The Bourne Identity Supremacy and Ultimatum — throw in just enough detail into the covert ops babble and high-speed action that by the end Jason Bourne comes out an emotional character with an evident mission. That's where Bourne Legacy drops the ball. A "sidequel" to the original trilogy Legacy follows super soldier Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) as he runs jumps and shoots his way out of the hands of his government captors. The film is identical to its predecessors; political intrigue chase scenes morally ambiguous CIA agents monitoring their man-on-the-run from a computer-filled HQ — a Bourne movie through and through. But Legacy has to dig deeper to find new ground to cover introducing elements of sci-fi into the equation. The result is surprisingly limp and even more incomprehensible.
Damon's Bourne spent three blockbusters uncovering his past erased by the assassin training program Treadstone. Renner's Alex Cross has a similar do-or-die mission: after Bourne's antics send Washington into a tizzy Cross' own training program Outcome is terminated. Unlike Bourne Cross is enhanced by "chems" (essentially steroid drugs) that keep him alive and kicking ass. When Outcome is ended Cross goes rogue to stay alive and find more pills.
Steeped heavily in the plot lines of the established mythology Bourne Legacy jumps back and forth between Cross and the clean up job of the movie's big bad (Edward Norton) and his elite squad of suits. The movie balances a lot of moving parts but the adventure never feels sprawling or all that exciting. Actress Rachel Weisz vibrant in nearly every role she takes on plays a chemist who is key to Cross' chemical woes. The two are forced into partnership Weisz limited to screaming cowering and sneaking past the occasional airport x-ray machine while her partner aggressively fistfights his way through any hurdle in his path. Renner is equally underserved. Cross is tailored to the actor's strengths — a darker more aggressive character than Damon's Bourne but with one out of every five of the character's lines being "CHEMS!" shouted at the top of his lungs Renner never has the time or the material to develop him.
Writer/director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton Duplicity and the screenwriter of the previous three movies) is a master of dense language but his style choices can't breath life into the 21st century epic speak. In the film's necessary car chase Gilroy mimics the loose camera style of Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass without fully embracing it. The wishy washy approach sucks the life out of large-scale set pieces. The final 30 minutes of Bourne Legacy is a shaky cam naysayer's worst nightmare.
The Bourne Legacy demonstrates potential without ever kicking into high gear. One scene when Gilroy finally slows down and unleashes absolute terror on screen is striking. Unfortunately the moment doesn't involve our hero and its implications never explained. That sums up Legacy; by the film's conclusion it only feels like the first hour has played out. The movie crawls — which would be much more forgivable if the intense banter between its large ensemble carried weight. Instead Legacy packs the thrills of an airport thriller: sporadically entertaining and instantly forgettable.
L.A. Critics go Sideways
The Los Angeles Film Critics Association named Sideways, about two men searching for love in California's wine country, as the year's best film and Clint Eastwood's female boxing movie Million Dollar Baby as the runner-up, Reuters reports. Sideways also got nods for best director Alexander Payne, supporting actress Virginia Madsen and supporting actor Thomas Haden Church. Britain's Imelda Staunton was named best actress for her portrayal as an abortionist in Vera Drake and Irish actor Liam Neeson was handed the best actor honor for playing U.S. sex researcher Dr. Alfred Kinsey in Kinsey. House of Flying Daggers was named best foreign language film, while The Incredibles won for best animated film. Born into Brothels edged out director Michael Moore's controversial Fahrenheit 9/11 as the Los Angeles critics' best documentary. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association will honor the winners of their 30th annual awards at a dinner on January 13.
AFI picks Aviator, Incredibles
The American Film Institute also announced their list of 2004's Top 10 movies, including Martin Scorsese's Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator and the smash animated hit The Incredibles, The Associated Press reports. Other on the list included the sequel Spider-Man 2; Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby; quirky romances Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Sideways; football drama Friday Night Lights; the drug-smuggling drama Maria Full of Grace; and the sexuality researcher Alfred Kinsey biopic Kinsey. The institute's top 10 television programs of the year were HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, Deadwood, The Sopranos and Something the Lord Made, ABC's Desperate Housewives and Lost, FX's Nip/Tuck and The Shield, Fox's Arrested Development and Comedy Central's South Park.
Jacko's fingerprints found on porno mag
Citing unidentified sources, the Santa Barbara News-Press reported Saturday that fingerprints belonging to both Michael Jackson and the boy accusing him of child molestation were found on pornographic magazines seized from the singer's Neverland ranch last year. According to AP, prosecutors could argue the fingerprints were proof Jackson showed the boy pornographic literature before molesting him. But if the reported evidence is admitted during Jackson's trial, the defense could question whether the entertainer knew the boy had been looking through the porn stash. According to News-Press, the boy and his brother often visited Neverland when Jackson wasn't home. Jackson, 46, has pleaded not guilty to charges of child molestation, conspiracy and administering an intoxicating agent, alcohol, to his alleged victim.
Anderson gets Fox sitcom
Former Baywatch hottie Pamela Anderson has signed on for a Fox sitcom about a woman who's trying to change her life and break her habit of falling for less-than-responsible men, Reuters reports. Before even reading a completed script, the network committed to six episodes of the project from writer-producer Steven Levitan, who created NBC's Just Shoot Me.
TV movie to depict Ovitz and Eisner's relationship
Showtime writer Frederic Raphael is developing Two Blind Mikes, a TV movie about the bitter business relationship between Hollywood heavyweights Michael Eisner and Michael Ovitz, Variety reports. Disney chief executive Eisner hired agent-to-the-stars Ovitz as the Mouse House's president in 1994 but his tenure ended after a trouble-plagued 14-month period. A shareholders' lawsuit, now being heard, contends Disney's board was negligent in hiring Ovitz to a lucrative deal and negligent again when it agreed to a $140 million package settlement to oust him in Dec. 1995. Casting for the film and an air date were not announced.
Madame Tussaud's nativity tableau vandalized
A controversial nativity scene at Madame Tussaud's waxwork museum in London featuring England soccer captain David Beckham as Joseph and his pop star wife "Posh Spice" Victoria as the Virgin Mary was attacked Sunday, Reuters reports. The wax tableau, which depicts pop star Kylie Minogue hovering above the crib as an angel, also features Tony Blair, George W. Bush and the Duke of Edinburgh as The Three Wise Men and Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Grant and Graham Norton as the shepherds. A spokeswoman for Madame Tussaud's said a protester had pushed down the Posh and Beckham wax figures but added, "The baby Jesus is fine." The piece was intended as a tongue-in-cheek way of bringing the nativity to a wider audience but has angered Anglicans, Catholics and Presbyterians.