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Archive for the ‘Raven, The’ Category

The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Legacy picks up right where The Bourne Ultimatum left off….except without Jason Bourne.  By this time Jason Bourne has become a ghost, but we still can see his work at hand.  He has exposed Operation Blackbriar and the Treadstone project for what it is, and the remnants of the project must be cleaned up and those involved eliminated.  Edward Norton reprises his role as Eric Byer, the man who entends to clean up all the loose ends.  We soon find out though, that Jason Bourne was just the tip of the iceberg.  There are many more just like him.

Jeremy Renner, who is fast becoming an action star, steps into the hero role as Aaron Cross.  Cross is a member of Operation Outcome, a BlackOps government program that creates super soldiers out of ordinary military men by feeding them green and blue pills.  One enhances their strength, while the other enhances their cognitive abilities.

The film opens with Cross in the middle of the frozen wilderness, attempting to reach a check point.  He is running on orders, running on auto-pilot, but when he reaches the check point and encounters another operative like him, we can tell that he is beginning to question what he is being told to do.

Meanwhile, we learn of a medical facility that is tied to the Operation Outcome project.  Rachel Wiesz plays Dr. Marta Shearing, a woman of science, and tied to the project which is going to turn her world upside down.  Both her and Cross are loose ends, and Byer’s men are coming for them.

The Bourne Legacy operates on the cat and mouse chase scenario that made the original Bourne trilogy so exciting to watch. You never know who to trust, and Cross and Shearing are always on the run.  It’s a thrill ride that is the blueprint for pretty much every action film ever made.  What sets The Bourne Legacy, and especially the Bourne trilogy, apart from your run of the mill action film is how concise it is in its story telling ability, and how intelligent it is as well.  There are not 10 different sub-plots running at the same time, confusing which way the film is trying to go.

Cross and Shearing are wanted dead, and they must find a way to survive.  Cross must also find a way to get more of those blue and green meds that have kept him super-human.  He’s beginning to feel withdrawal effects, especially on the cognitive side, and he knows that in some way Shearing is the key to helping him.

The Bourne Legacy is not as good as any one of the Bourne trilogy films, but it comes real close, and it’s way better than lots of run of the mill action films.  It’s also, from what I’ve heard, the beginning of perhaps a new trilogy of films.  If that is the case, then it sets the tone pretty well for that, and Renner is a perfect choice as our new hero.  If you’re a fan of the Bourne films you will not be disappointed, and if you’re a fan of intelligent espionage films, you’ll more than get your money’s worth here.

Grade: B+

The Raven – review

The work of Edgar Allan Poe has captured the morbid minds of generations of readers.  He was the father of what would become the modern day crime novel, and was not afraid to delve into the world of the macabre.  That world, and Poe’s life, are now brought to the big screen in The Raven…sort of.

John Cusack steps into the lead role as Poe, not really what I would consider an ideal choice, but that’s what we get and that’s one of the biggest problems with the film.  I love Cuscak, but the problem is that every role he steps into he plays as…John Cusack.  There’s not a lot of depth in his acting, except when he’s sitting comfortable in roles that probably emulate his life more closely (Say Anything, High Fidelity, Grosse Pointe Blank).  He doesn’t have the reach as an actor, to pull off the tortured Poe.  Poe was a product of his own demons, with an insatiable thirst for drugs and alcohol.  You see a side of that in Cusack’s Poe, but the film deals more with Poe’s wit and banter.

The film begins as a series of murders begin occuring in the Baltimore area, emulating the work of Poe.  The police are stumped and enlist the help of the author to find the killer.  One by one people are murdered in the exact way as the characters of The Tell Tale Heart, The Pit and The Pendulum, and other works by the author.  Things get even more complex when Poe’s love interest, Emily Hamilton, is kidnapped by the killer, and Poe is forced chronicle the events that unfold every evening for the local paper, if he wants to see her alive again.  What follows is your basic paint by numbers murder mystery, with some confusing plot points and sloppy direction.  Characters enter and exit on a whim, and everything unfolds perfectly as planned.  I’m always confused why everything seems to work out perfectly in films like this.  There’s never a slip up?

The two main problems with The Raven are the direction by James McTeigue (V For Vendetta), and casting John Cusack in the role of Poe.  The film centers around the final days of Poe in which he was found blabbering nonsense, drunk and wearing someone else’s clothes on a park bench.  Cusack could have jumped more into the descent of Poe’s mental health during that time.  A descent into madness.  Instead he’s kind of witty, and like-able, and we don’t really get much of a break down of his character.

I’m sure McTeigue was looking for more of a box office hit then really worrying about the artistic endeavor of the film, but what could have been an interesting character study is instead a run of the mill mystery film.  McTeigue takes liberties with the factual nature of Poe’s life, ignoring some of the more fascinating aspects.  It’s entertaining, and there are some interesting twists and turns along the way, but overall The Raven is nothing new, or special.

Grade: C