Jason Bourne is the aptly named fifth installment in the Bourne film series and the direct sequel to the Bourne Ultimatum. An exciting part of this fifth installment is how we get to finally see Bourne unearth dark and hidden truths about his past, as he now recollects who he truly is - David Webb. However, the discovery of his identity brings about more bad than good, as we see Bourne facing down his demons and confronting them head-on, quite literally. The movie is set a decade after his disappearance at the conclusion of the Bourne Ultimatum. He unexpectedly resurfaces at a time when the world is plunged into terror and faced with an unprecedented level of instability. Meanwhile, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), who is in Iceland, goes to a remote and secure location with other hackers and whistleblowers. She manages to penetrate the CIA’s mainframe servers and discovers classified files on their programs, starting with Treadstone, the program that created Jason Bourne, erased David Webb’s memories, and turned him into a killing machine. It becomes apparent that the CIA has been trying earnestly to keep surveillance on Bourne. Nicky swiftly proceeds to download what she needs and burns any shred of evidence.
At the same time, at Langley in CIA headquarters, Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) sees what is going on and reports it to her director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones). Dewey, overcome by fear that Bourne could expose their latest program, Iron Hand, contacts a former Blackbriar operative known only as The Asset (Vincent Cassel) to eliminate Bourne. This fifth installment ticked all the boxes in the checklist for a Bourne film. We see: the extreme car chases that have you wondering how and why the airbags haven’t deployed, countless scenes where Bourne is made to look infinitely more prepared than his subduers, and bloody fight scenes which are cut into rapid shots that are seriously disorienting but nonetheless exhilarating.
Personally, I felt this was the most action packed installment in the series yet. And, it was also the most violent and gory. Unless you’re a person with a high propensity for violence, it was fairly difficult to look at certain scenes, and not think to yourself, that the kill could have been approached in a less graphic way. It seems that Bourne is beginning to develop less tolerance for those who are either: keeping him from the truth about himself and his past, or, those refusing to leave him alone; and the over the top violence is highly reflective of this. What’s more, there were certain fatalities that you saw coming but wish didn’t happen. One of those, which takes place earlier on in the film, was ironically reminiscent of Marie Kreutz’ (Franka Potente) death in the Bourne Supremacy. Meanwhile, on the other hand, there were characters who you couldn’t wait to be put down by Bourne.
It could be said that a lot of Bourne’s actions in the film were driven by emotion. But can we blame him? He has finally narrowed down on the powers to be behind his puppeteering and the only sensible decision to make here is to neutralize them once and for all. As a member of the audience, I felt captivated to really get behind this. Moving away from the murderous details, I thought an interesting concept in this film was the program Iron Hand, a surveillance program that if allowed to go through, would allow the government free reign over the private data of an innumerable amount of citizens. While this idea isn’t new in the real world, the movie certainly gave the impression that it could be our reality in the not so distant future. It made me realise that throwing a punch is less important nowadays than learning how to write code when it comes to today’s covert operations by the CIA, and Jason Bourne exposes us to the possibilities that come along with agencies being able to hone in on our private information.
Whether or not digital transparency and unruly espionage are themes that will carryover to the next Bourne film is up for anyone’s guess. For now, I assert that director Paul Greengrass has done an excellent job to revive the Jason Bourne franchise and it has been definitely long overdue. From herein, I see it as a matter of building on Vikander’s character Heather on a more in depth basis and who knows; maybe she will come just as close as Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) in capturing Bourne. Although, based on the ending of the film; I surmise that will be highly unlikely.
Reviewed by Linn Win for Pink&Sparkles
This week sees the release of the next instalment of the DC cinematic universe: David Ayer’s supervillain extravaganza Suicide Squad. The film was tasked with the rather ambitious ploy of introducing a rogue’s gallery of all new anti-hero characters while simultaneously expanding upon the wider landscape of the DC franchise that had been established in two Superman films directed by Zack Snyder. So, does it succeed in achieving these aims and is it the zany crowd-pleasing romp the studio is hoping for? The answer is a muddled yes and no. The movie is essentially about ruthless Federal Agent Amanda Davis (Viola Davis) forming together a special task force of expendable criminals to help the world fight off even more dangerous forces of evil. If the premise sounds ludicrous it is nevertheless an alluring prospect to see how acclaimed director David Ayer (Fury in 2014 and End of Watch in 2012) delivers such an absurd narrative to the big screen. What unfolds is a mildly fun, colourful, yet messy piece of cinematic art. The film opens strong with a fast-paced first act of condensed background information and origin stories.
Each character is complemented with zany onscreen biographical infographics, plus a distinctive choice of soundtrack to match the individual’s personality and temperament. While this brought an energy to proceedings the urgency and rush of information is a little overwhelming. The movie chooses to focus primarily on the never-miss-a-target assassin Deadshot (a jokey but nuanced Will Smith) and the psychotic sexy gangster’s moll, Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie who consistently steals the show). The rest of the Suicide Squad’s ranks are filled out by a motley crew of criminals, mercenaries and thugs, each with their own distinctive skill, talent or super-power. The big ensemble cast means that a few of the actors get short-changed in terms of screen time and a hierarchy of narrative importance amongst the characters becomes fairly obvious as the movie progresses, with Cara Delevingne’s creepy Enchantress, Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and the pyromaniac Diablo (played by Jay Hernandez) becoming a second tier behind Deadshot and Harley Quinn. This leaves the remaining characters feeling disposable and unnecessary which does not help sell the movie’s idea of a developing team dynamic within the group of thieves and rascals. Despite this the film does manage to keep up a consistently jovial set of interactions between characters even in some of the more action heavy or dramatic scenes.
In addition to all this, an inter-weaving sub-plot featuring The Joker (Jared Leto) also appears. It is debatable whether the presence of such an archetypal DC super-villain adds or takes away from the central storyline. While it really does add some much-appreciated depth to the emotional journey of the character of Harley Quinn, Jared Leto’s role still comes across like a glorified cameo and seems extraneous to the overall plot and drive of the film.
Suicide Squad relies on a lot of superhero movie tropes, with an emphasis on action and big computer-generated set-pieces. The film probably could have benefitted from a smaller scope yet we are once again treated to a cataclysmic threat that the protagonists must overcome to save the world. Considering the movie actually goes out of its way to remind us in quite a few instances that superheroes like The Flash, Batman and Wonder Woman also exist, a major plot contrivance is that no reason is ever given why these individuals do not show up to counteract the problem themselves. Overall the film was fun but flawed, there was a lot of potential in this material and a few ideas rise to the occasion but the final product felt sloppy and inconsistent; instead of being a manic joy ride, it took itself too seriously for its own good in the second half of the film. With the movie failing to provide enough reasons to care about the team and their plight there was never really any sense of danger or concern for their well-being. David Ayers has created a DC film that is a refreshing change of pace from the two downbeat Superman films that preceded it and delivers more than enough entertainment and nihilistic spectacle for the average blockbuster movie fan to indulge in for two hours, but there isn’t much there to think about and come back to at a later date.
Reviewed by Barbra Ho for Pink&Sparkles
Back from my overseas travel (short but sweet) with photos to come. Thank you to my wonderful movie editors for their contributions monthly. We are looking forward to the movie Absolutely Fabulous showing in cinemas from August 11 here in New Zealand.