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.
Love is savage — or so espouses the tagline to Oliver Stone’s Savages. Opening this week in theaters, Savages is the story of a pair of successful marijuana dealers who between them share a single girlfriend. This equation seems explosive enough, but things really escalate to the breaking point when rival dealers kidnap their collective girl. Dangerous romances are nothing new in cinema, but it is always surprising when a major studio takes a chance on a love story that isn’t clean, predictable, and by the numbers. In honor of Savages, we thought we’d examine of few more of our favorite examples of movies in which love proved to be a formidable antagonist.
Natural Born Killers
Spring boarding to the first entry on the list, Oliver Stone himself has dabbled in this theme of dangerous lovers before with his 1994 film Natural Born Killers. Using a variety of storytelling formats, including animation, and his signature flair for music video style editing, Stone brings us the terrifying tale of a pair of young lovers. Why is it so terrifying? Oh, because they also happen to be sadistic spree killers. Their notoriety fed by the media, Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis) blaze a bloody trail of carnage across the country in one of cinema’s most destructive romances.
Bonnie and Clyde
This list would not exist were not for the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde as well as the real life, star-crossed outlaws for which the film is named. In the movie, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway portray legendary lovers/bank robbers Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker who emptied the vaults of several savings and loans across the country; murdering where they found it advantageous. As violent as their robberies tended to be, Bonnie and Clyde were considered folk heroes by some; products of the desperate climate of The Great Depression. Their love affair would lead them, as so often is the case, to a sudden, bloody demise.
Quentin Tarantino not only wrote the story for Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, but also penned the screenplay for Tony Scott’s 1993 film True Romance. Starring Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette, and boasting one of the most impressive supporting casts in filmdom, True Romance is the story of a prostitute named Alabama who falls in love with her final client. The two have a whirlwind romance that finds them journeying to California to try and sell a cache of cocaine Alabama stole from her pimp. They suffer considerably for their actions, but never falter in their near-crazed fondness to one another.
When it comes to gritty, savagely honest crime cinema, few names resonate louder than Sam Peckinpah. In 1972, he gave us the phenomenal action/drama The Getaway starring Steven McQueen as an incarcerated career criminal and Ali McGraw as his wife. Her devotion to McQueen leads her to sleep with a well-connected businessman in order to secure his release from prison; a decision that ultimately backfires as the businessman then demands the two perpetrate one last robbery that goes horribly awry. The aftermath of the robbery sends them on a perilous flight as they search for safe haven and try to elude pursuing thugs. So in this instance, even the most well meaning acts of love can prove treacherous.
Supernatural romances are not without their own pitfalls, despite not often being bound by the constraints of the real world. In the epic war between vampires and werewolves, one wolf-slaying supervamp falls in love with a being that is a hybrid of both species. This adoration is of course looked upon as an act of betrayal by her bloodsucking brethren. At that point, Underworld effectively becomes a horror version of Romeo and Juliet. It’s too bad Romeo and Juliet didn’t spawn a franchise with at least one entry in 3D. Strike that, it’s perfectly fine.
'Savages' Red Band Featurette: F-Bombs, Guns Aplenty
Blake Lively, Salma Hayek and Co. on Sex, Drugs and 'Savages'
'Savages' Trailer: Blake Lively, Weed, and a Whole Lot of Violence
Mengers was surrounded by friends, including actress Ali MacGraw and Joanna Poitier, wife of Sidney Poitier, when she passed away at her home in Beverly Hills, California on Saturday (15Oct11).
During her career, Mengers also advised stars such as Sir Michael Caine, Faye Dunaway and Cybill Shepherd, and several of her former clients have paid tribute to her.
MacGraw says, "I loved Sue Mengers unequivocally and her passing marks the end of a most glorious era. There will never be another Sue Mengers."
In a post on her Twitter.com page, Kathy Griffin writes, "RIP Sue Mengers, Hollywood original & true female role model. Thx (thanks) 4 (sic) the great dinners. Each 1 (sic) was a 'once in a lifetime'."
Actress/comedienne Sandra Bernhard adds, "Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of super agent Sue Mengers my agent for two years one of the greats in the Hollywood glory days."
By Noah Davis & Kit Bowen
Bandits looks at what happens when two escaped cons decide to go on a bank-robbing spree to finance a getaway to Mexico-and run into a woman who changes both of their lives. Our trusted reporters look at how the film rates as a heist movie and how well the three main actors-Billy Bob Thornton, Bruce Willis and Cate Blanchett-got along.
Hollywood.com: Is Bandits more a comedy than a movie about a crime spree?
Kit Bowen: I thought it was certainly much more a comedy. It reminded me a lot of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. But it's also a really great character study, which I found to be the most surprising element. I was expecting more action.
Noah Davis: Kit's right. It's more of a comedy. And it's Barry Levinson's style of comedy--exemplified in his first and still best movie, Diner--derived from stand-up and improv. It's loose-limbed, off-the-cuff, and dependent on the personalities of the actors and their ability to riff on whatever comes up in conversation. That's not to say it's unplanned, but that it's constructed so well as to make it look entirely spontaneous. Bandits is very funny, and the crime spree story line comes second.
Hollywood.com: And speaking of characters, with three dominating personalities--Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton and Cate Blanchett--whose movie is this really? Or are they able to share the spotlight?
Davis: There's no doubt this is Billy Bob's show. Bruce Willis has a charming role as a vulnerable middle-aged wise-ass--probably not too much of a stretch acting-wise--and Blanchett is adequately nutty as the housewife-cum-accomplice. But Billy Bob's neurotic, hypochondriac, yet intelligent Terry always gets the last funny word. Billy Bob delivers my favorite line in the movie: "Kate is an iceberg waiting for the 'Titanic.'''
Bowen: Yeah, that was a good line. Although I live to disagree with my colleague, I'd have to say the same thing. Thornton is wonderfully neurotic in this and is the one who goes through the most changes. However, as a collective three, the actors worked enormously well with one another. I'm thinking there might be a sequel.
Hollywood.com: And movies of this nature--crime sprees, bank robberies--which one is your favorite?
Bowen: Well, I absolutely loved Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid precisely for the same reason I liked Bandits. It's about underdogs, in a way, committing crimes, but doing it with a sense of humor and not for evil. And how I love to watch how the characters deal with each other.
Davis: I tend to go more for the glamorous side of heist movies, rather than the zany comedies. My favorite is The Thomas Crown Affair remake with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. Very classy, very debonair, and incredibly fun to watch.
Bowen: Ah, but Noah, the original Thomas Crown Affair with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway was so much better. Silly boy.
Hollywood.com: It's clear that Barry Levinson is a major talent in Hollywood. What makes the films he's directed so well-done and so popular?
Davis: Levinson isn't perfect. He has peddled his share of slick, sentimental junk (The Natural, Toys,). Still good movies, of course, but he's beloved for his scrappy wit and the wry sense of human oddness that distinguish works like Bandits, Diner, Tin Men and the early episodes of the NBC series Homicide. Levinson also knows when to release the directorial reigns and allow his actors to take over the scene, providing us with some great, real pieces of dialogue.
Bowen: I'm not a huge fan of Levinson's movies, especially his classics like Diner and Tin Men. I characterize those films more as "guy flicks" than anything else. I know I'm in the minority here, and I'm sure Noah will have a field day with my comments. However, I do feel Levinson has a way with his actors and allows dialogue to flow naturally. My favorites of his might have to be Rain Man and Wag the Dog. And now Bandits.
Davis:Kit's right. I could have a field day with her comments. Diner, though dominated by a male cast, isn't a "guy flick" any more than Sex and the City is a "chick flick," um, television show. If there's witty banter and an honest portrayal of relationship, it should be interesting to everyone, and that's ultimately what Levinson's movies give us.