Tag Archives: Paul Greengrass

Bourne to Kill

Matt Damon returns as memory-challenged spy in grim, glum ‘Jason Bourne’

Film Title: Jason Bourne

Jason Bourne
Starring Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones & Alicia Vikander
Directed by Paul Greengrass
PG-13

For espionage fans, Jason Bourne has always been the spy who can’t remember. Based on the character created by novelist Robert Ludlum, he’s appeared previously in three movies (2002-2007) played by Matt Damon, who now returns to the role (after sitting on the sidelines for the oddly Bourne-less The Bourne Legacy, starring Jeremy Renner, in 2012).

A former brainwashed CIA killing machine who went rogue as his head began to clear, Bourne, has been wandering the Earth for the past decade (apparently) in an existential quest to distance himself from the murderous, amnestic murk of his tortured past.

When his old colleague Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) hacks into a government computer, she discovers files suggesting that Bourne’s late father might have been involved in the clandestine government program that “indoctrinated” his young son into the CIA and erased his previous life. She tracks Bourne down to tell him, and it puts both of them in serious danger.

Tommy Lee Jones

Tommy Lee Jones

Learning that sensitive, covert computer files have been breached, CIA director (Tommy Lee Jones) knows the situation requires drastic action. If Bourne and Parsons leak those files, one of his advisors frets, “It could be worse than Snowden.”

That means calling on the agency’s top assassin, known only as “the Asset” (Vincent Cassel), to “cut the head off this thing.”

Alicia Vikander

Alicia Vikander

Alicia Vikander plays an ambitious CIA cyber-ops expert who thinks she can bring Bourne back in to the side of the good guys. But will she get the chance? And the line between “good” guys and “bad” guys gets plenty blurry.

There’s also a plotline about a gigantic new cybertech company, Deep Dream, and its charismatic owner (Riz Ahmed), whose ties to the CIA bring up some timely, troubling concerns about privacy and governmental policing.

A generous amount of globetrotting culminates in a slam-bang Las Vegas crescendo involving a hotel sniper, a brutal back-alley brawl and a colossal downtown chase, dozens of smash-ups and a “jackpot” of a crash inside the Riviera casino.

Film Title: Jason BournePaul Greengrass, who also directed two films from the original Bourne trilogy, is behind the camera again—but can’t seem to hold it steady for a single scene. The director’s penchant for woozy, wobbly “shakycam” shots is meant to convey edge, movement and action, but man, it sure gets old. Even when characters are having a calm conversation, the camera is fidgeting like it can’t wait to split.

And spy flicks have always been about thrills, danger and even death—but this Bourne feels and looks especially grim, glum and grungy, especially given the tenor of the times. Gunmen on rooftops, bombs, civilians dying in the fray, government corruption, a mopey Matt Damon—there ain’t no escapist sunshine here, folks.

“I remember… I remember,” Bourne intones at the beginning of the movie. By the end, the audience may remember, too—that there were other, not-quite-so-downer choices at the multiplex.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Ahoy, Captain!

Tom Hanks stars in gripping true tale of modern-day piracy

Captain_Phillips

Captain Phillips

Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Combo $40.99 / DVD $30.99 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Tom Hanks stars in this gripping, critically lauded thriller about the hijacking of an American cargo ship by Somali pirates and its daring rescue by the U.S. Navy. Based on a real 2009 incident, it’s a knockout performance for Hanks, who adds yet another notch to his formidable acting belt—but it’s a propulsive breakout for Oscar-nominated newcomer Barkhad Abdi, who, as leader of the ragtag Somali hijackers, conveys an urgency and desperation essential to the movie’s emotional tug-of-war. Extras include a three-part, behind-the-scenes look at the production and the true events on which the story was based, and commentary by director Paul Greengrass.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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O Captain, My Captain

Tom Hanks is riveting in real-life high-seas drama

Tom Hanks

Captain Phillips

Starring Tom Hanks

Directed by Paul Greengrass

PG-13, 134 min., released Oct. 11, 2013

First of all, finally—a movie about pirates that doesn’t have anything to do with Johnny Depp.

The rascally, comically rakish Capt. Jack Sparrow in five Disney Pirates of the Caribbean flicks, Depp is nowhere to be found in this pulse-pounding drama based on the real-life 2009 pirate hijacking of an American cargo ship off the coast of Africa.

And these pirates are a world away from Disneyland, in every way. A desperate bunch of gun-toting coastal villagers from chaotic, war-torn Somalia who attack the massive Maersk Alabama in their small fishing boat, they light the fuse on an international drama that ultimately draws the explosive deadly force of the U.S. Navy and its elite special ops SEALs.930353 - Captain Phillips

Director Paul Greengrass, who previously steered two Bourne spy thrillers and the nail-biting, real-time United 93, starts the story as the commercial captain of the title (Tom Hanks) departs his Vermont home for Africa, where he’ll meet his ship, his crew and his fate.

In the first scene, we eavesdrop on the conversation between Phillips and his wife (Catherine Keener) on the way to the airport about how their kids should study harder in school to keep up with the big, changing world in which they’ll soon become adults—a foreshadowing of the grueling tutorial on the imbalance of global economics Phillips will soon get first-hand on the other side of the globe.

Working from a taut screenplay by Billy Ray (based on Richard Phillips’ book, A Captain’s Duty, about the incident), Greengrass shifts his cinematic canvas from the vastness of the open ocean to the stifling confines of a claustrophobic closed lifeboat in which the final high-wire act plays out.

In the title role, Hanks reminds us why he’s one of the most versatile actors in all of modern movies, capable of just about anything. As Capt. Phillips’ situation moves from bad to worse, his performance intensifies to a rawness that will leave a lot of viewers gasping—if not weeping—along with him at the end.

Tom HanksA movie “based on real events” can often be at a bit of a dramatic disadvantage in that audiences know everything that happened—or at least they think they do. But even if that’s the case here, it doesn’t matter: Greengrass draws out the tension, the suspense, and the sense that anything can happen into the very final moments.

(A new chapter emerged recently, however, as some of the real crew members involved in the incident brought a $50 million lawsuit against their employers, claiming that Phillips and the Maersk shipping line put their lives in danger by taking unnecessary risks—and that the real-life Capt. Phillips wasn’t quite the hero the movie makes him out to be.)

But if the story unfolded anywhere close to the way it’s depicted on the screen, it’s impossible not to come away from it somewhat moved, if not shaken, after watching this high-seas, high-stakes saga that didn’t spring from someone’s imagination, from a comic book, or from an amusement park ride—but rather from the real world in which we live, and one that really happened, to real people, not so long ago.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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