Tag Archives: The Bourne Identity

A Week In Film #057: Writing to Santa

Batman Begins
Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan pull off the Batman reboot with aplomb. Bit long, bit meandering, but plenty to commend.

3.10 To Yuma (2007)
Decent stab at remaking the 1957 Elmore Leonard adaptation, with James Mangold directing a tale not dissimilar to his own 1997 Cop Land, about an unlikely man standing up to do the right thing.

Quiet rancher Christian Bale is determined to take murderous bandit Russell Crowe to the railroad and thence to gaol, despite his own son (Logan Lerman) having no faith in him. A well-made, old fashioned kind of Western, with good supporting performances from the likes of Ben Foster, Peter Fonda, Dallas Roberts, Alan Tudyk, Gretchen Mol and Luke Wilson.

Hostage
Bruce Willis as a former big city police negotiator turned small town sheriff who finds himself embroiled in an armed kidnapping and siege. Some interesting bits (nods to Die Hard, for instance), but despite undoubted skill, French director Florent Emilio Siri, who so impressed with Nid De Guêpes, seems a little lost at sea here, certainly with the performances.

After The Sunset
Silly, not very engaging romantic comedy-thriller, with retired jewel thief Pierce Brosnan and paramour Salma Hayek pursued by FBI agent Woody Harrelson to the Bahamas.

30 Days Of Night
British music video director turned feature helmsman (his debut was the decent Hard Candy) has a crack at a vampire comic adaptation, where the action takes place in an Alaskan town just entering into its annual sunless season. An efficient ensemble cast (Josh Hartnett and Melissa George as estranged married couple forced back together by circumstances, local redneck Mark Boone Junior, Danny Huston as the lead vampire), but a meandering plot which doesn’t work the time angle very well. Nicely shot, though.

The Bourne Identity (1988)
Richard ‘Kildare’ Chamberlain and Jaclyn ‘Charlie’s Angels’ Smith in roles later played on the big screen by Matt Damon and Franka Potente in this eighties mini-series version of Robert Ludlum’s shonky spy novel. In places it works better than the Liman/Greengrass version, though overall it definitely shows its age and inferior budget, and too many of Ludlum’s crappy subplots and pointless characters survive the edit. Still, Anthony Quayle makes a fun appearance as a randy French general, and Denholm Elliott as a lush who cares for the amnesiac Bourne in the beginning.

Batman
Tim Burton’s take on the masked vigilante comic book character, though blatantly seen through the half-remembered filter of the 60s live action TV show. Jack Nicholson chews up scenery in an overpaid, puffed-up cameo, somewhat overshadowing Michael Keaton’s rather good lead. Kim Basinger gets in the way, and whilst blasphemously uncanonical, Sam Hamm’s script is fun.

Stalingrad
Joseph Vilsmaier’s fine German war film, a grim depiction of life on the Eastern Front, with a factory battle that throws back to Peckinpah’s Cross Of Iron. A strong cast includes Thomas Kretschmann (latterly known for Der Untergang, U-571, Wanted, Valkyrie, King Kong, Transsiberian etc), Dominique Horwitz, Sebastian Rudolf and Sylvester Groth.

Dead Man’s Shoes
Shane Meadows and Paddy Considine cement their creative partnership with a perfect film, a Midlands-set Western that escaped the director’s grasp when he was given too much money to play with the previous attempt.

A redemption film skillfully camouflaged as a vengeance picture, full of believable characters and genuine shocks.

A Week In Film #031: Never talk politics with the in-laws after a day of drinking

Man With The Screaming Brain title screen

Man With The Screaming Brain
Bruce Campbell writes, directs and stars, as an American businessman in Bulgaria (cheap to film there, apparently) who is killed by a treacherous Gypsy woman, before being brought back to life by loony doctor Stacy Keach, who bulks up Campbell’s broken brain with bits cut out of the ex-KGB taxi driver who is also the former boyfriend of our Romani assailant. Could have been better, but points for effort, though possibly not for services to settled/traveller relations.

The Punisher (1989) title screen

The Punisher (1989)
Very silly adaptation of the dark Marvel comic about Nam vet Frank Castle who turns vigilante after his family is executed by the Mafia. Here Castle is changed to a cop, and he is played by Dolphin Lundgren. It is silly. Very violent, with some rubbish and occasionally dull action scenes, but at least it doesn’t take itself seriously.

Punisher: War Zone title screen

Punisher: War Zone
Charmless reboot of the 2004 reboot of the 1989 flick. Ray Stephenson is now Frank Castle, and yet despite not being a stranger to acting, ends up with little to do other than brutally execute anyone who steps in his way, with a moody expression on his fizzog. Directed by that Lexi Alexander, with the same skill and delicacy she applied to Green Street.

Canadian Bacon title screen

Canadian Bacon
Hamfisted (LOL) Michael Moore black comedy (shamelessly stealing from Dr Strangelove) about a lameduck US President who conjures up an imaginary threat from Canada. John Candy is great though. Prefigures the superior Wag The Dog, though the premise is wittier.

One Crazy Summer title screen

One Crazy Summer
Minor 80s teen comedy with John Cusack the wannabe animator on vacation before college. Harmless fun, pleasant performances.

The Whole Nine Yards title screen

The Whole Nine Yards
Him from Friends as a neurotic dentist, him from Die Hard as a mob hitman who moves next door. Fun, but inconsequential. Director Jonathan Lynn definitely has a thing about women smoking cigarettes – Rosanna Arquette, Natasha Henstridge.

The Whole Ten Yards title screen

The Whole Ten Yards
Somewhat pointless sequel, whose principal purpose appears to be to give Kevin Pollak – the Hungarian crime boss who didn’t survive the first film – the chance to work out as his character’s own father. Howard Deutch fumbles the direction.

The Deal (2008) title screen

The Deal (2008)
William H Macy as a past-his-prime Hollywood producer who sees one last chance when his talented but naîve nephew turns up on his doorstep with Bill And Ben, a sensitive script about Benjamin D’Israeli’s relationship with WIlliam Gladstone. Naturally this one last chance involves tweaking it into Ben Disraeli: Freedom Fighter, a guns ‘n’ girls blockbuster with recently converted action star Bobby Mason (LL Cool J) in the starring role. Silly and derivative (and the whole WHM/Meg Ryan romance is a bit meh), but warm and cosy.

The Keep title screen

The Keep
Michael Mann does supernatural war movie – Jürgen Prochnow is an honourable Wehrmacht officer, Gabriel Byrne is a comedy BOO! HISS! black uniformed SS rotter, Ian McKellen is a wheelchair-bound Jewish academic, Alberta Watson is his daughter, Scott Glenn is a shiny-eyed mysterious stranger, and they’re all stuck in a magic castle in WW2 Romania with a scary Golem-type monster. Tangerine Dream supplies the music, and it’s all a bit silly.

The Bourne Identity title screen

The Bourne Identity
Robert Ludlum holiday bricks rarely entertain once adapted for the screen (The Osterman Weekend, The Holcroft Covenant), but Doug Go Liman’s reboot (after the 80s version which had Dr Kildare in the lead) makes a meaty fist of challenging yer Bond as preeminent movie spook.

Matt Damon is an excellent against-type casting choice, and he develops an excellent rapport with the flaky German wanderer he latches onto, played by Franke Potente.

The fight-in-a-room (or park, or field) sequences – notably the Swiss ones, and one in the Paris apartment – are for the most part exemplary, though Liman has more trouble with the car chase. In terms of action and tension it is very effective.

Casting is a little more mixed: Brian Cox is superb as a creepy CIA chieftain, but Julia Stiles? How did she end up in a frontline role in the Company? And you can’t help but chuckle at Adebisi from Oz hamming it up, or the shitkicker from The Shield being all whitecollar and shit. But mostly it’s a breezy, exciting ride.

A few queries though: do all Italian trawlers have as well packed a medical kit as here? And how did Bourne make it from France into Switzerland – Switzerland, FFS, Switzerland!! – without papers?