Sunday, August 5, 2007

Don't Trust the Government

Essentially, that's the whole message of the Bourne Ultimatum. Several images, as the New York Times review recounted, were reminiscent of Guantanamo, and I got chills from hearing David Straitharn talk casually about "rendition" (although I don't think many people heard it for some reason). All in all, slick set-up and choreography of action sequences that really makes you believe Jason Bourne is plotting everything out ten steps in advance, even while dodging punches.

"It puts me in the mood
to go puke."

But my one substantial disappointment from the second movie (also directed by Paul Greengrass) is present in the third (and final?). That man really needs to get a steadicam. As an avid consumer of martial films, I've come to expect steadier camera work so as to appreciate the nuances of the fight itself. Yes, I can certainly understand why directors think a shaky camera "puts you in the action". But they're wrong: it puts me in the mood to go puke. That of course detracts from my appreciation of the scene and overall plot. And the best fight scene in the movie was the one where the camera is held much more steadily than in all the others to allow the audience to witness the brutality of the fight (this was also emphasized by the lack of music). This is in contrast to, say, Children of Men, where there was certainly "shaky camera" work and you felt like you were standing right next to Clive Owen. But the long shots and wider frame mitigate the motion sickness.

But I don't want to go too far here. All in all, a solid movie with a nice, though simplistic, political core.


hcduvall said...

I watched Bourne Identity on dvd, a entertaining (and spectacularily dumb) movie. In that early stage in its packaging lifetime, the producers saw fit to include an alternate ending where Bourne is offered a job to fight "monsters worse than us" or some plablum, with a preamble talking about the bravery of those involved using the movie to comment on terrorism, since 9/11 happened while they shot the movie. The comment being, "We should fight terrorism." The only thing they thing they overcame was the embarassment of using violence-glorifying entertainment fare as mature comment on anything.

I'm not surprised the editing was choppier--like you said, it's thought of as a more kinetic way to involve the audience. Which is why the latter half of Unleashed is some of the best action in years. As for politics, action movies are almost always going to be simplistic and reactionary. Violence is a pretty blunt force after all.

Jonny America said...

As a former magazine editor, I really appreciated the call-out text in the middle of your post.

HoBs said...

The last time I wanted to puke in a movie was Master and Commander which made me almost sea sick, but I appreciated it.

My observation for the Bourne series is that its totally a chick flick in disguise.

All women I've heard from like it (including the NY Times reviewer and other reviewers) and all men I've heard from didn't.

Chengora said...

I don't know if I would go that far. I certainly liked it, and my dad is a fan, so there's two on that score. Interesting idea though. I'll have to ask the GF about that...