“Jason Bourne”

Hacking camps, invading malware, generational politics, CIA secrecy, and motorized chases in numerous cities all  await you in the most recent Bourne film. Idealism that wishes to take down corrupt institutions that control society is a theme, and whoever can type the fastest has  a heads-up. The arching question may be “who is a patriot?”  Could it be anyone who believes in the free flow of information ?

“Jason Bourne” starts slowly as Matt Damon continues his soul search in the form of Captain David Webb. The former CIA operative seems to enjoy hand to hand combat in the boxing ring when not seeking his recruitment history and his assassinated father’s part in it.

Tommy Lee Jones, as CIA head Robert Dewy, does his best to squash all Bourne’s efforts. His motivations  of absolute power weigh in heavily. Enjoy counting how many times doors open and close.

Dewy’s protégée is the lovely Alicia Vikander. As Heather Lee she provides another engaging subplot to the many. She wants Bourne back in the game and knows Dewy has lied about giving her full operational control. Her tight neck bun bolsters her one line orders, “Pull it up.”, ” Copy that.” and “Enhance.” Is our Cyber  Division Head overly ambitious or does she have a more principled vision for the CIA ? In any case, the morality of one life versus that lives of many rationalizes untold deaths.

The fight over freedom of information surfaces in a young Stanford grad’s Facebook-like company called “Deep Dream”. Our government has funded his start-up and wants full data access to keep America safe. An Italian mercenary is hired to kill any embarrassment to the agency. We are reminded that Jason’s father did not want his son to turn into a killer, but killing seems to be that name of this game.

Julia Stiles plays Nicky Parsons, a former operative turned  public informer. Director Paul Greengrass has her deliver with a strikingly powerful strut and windswept hair. Women make their mark in this film. It is noted that her hacking group’s postings could be worse than Snowden’s public releases. This Bourne film is  issue current. (The first film ” The Bourne Identity” was released in 2002. ” The Bourne Supremacy” in 2004, “The Bourne Ultimatum” in 2007, and “The Bourne Legacy” in 2012 followed.)

Damon’s Bourne is a  hunk and a smooth operator. Deft at picking up whatever he needs ( be it a cellphone, weapon, key , or the latest gadget) ,  he deposits tracking devices and  voice recorders as effortlessly as the X-filers flick on their flashlights. He shuffles through passports with aplomb and wrestles with his demons alone. And I can add that he survives five story jumps.

My favorite line, ” Meet me at the statue of Athena.” would have me following. Enjoy this high-summer fare.

“Criminal”

Action films are not my usual draw, but with older actors like Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, and Kevin Costner – a stellar line-up- I chose a Friday night divergence from identity finding films, bio-pics, and period dramas. I can’t say I was disappointed with “Criminal”.  It is like MI-5 meets slasher flick. Forty-year-old male directors and screenwriters get to put their video-gaming to work in a film they hope will be financially profitable to their ilk. It is entertaining fare.

Three strands develop and keep the intensity strumming. We are in London. A Spanish anarchist has a program code-named “Wormwood”. It can intercept and  re-mastermind any U.S. Military program. The Russians want it. The Americans  are eighteen years into a sci-fi  like brain transfer experiment that can recapture the frontal cortex of one person for another to absorb. One application is for an inoperative operative to have that hard earned knowledge directly moved to the brain of another. Dr. Franks ( Tommy Lee Jones) convinces CIA  Chief ,Gary Oldman, to use a death- row convict to be the recipient of this Intel, language training etc….BAriel Vromen, spy thrillerilly Pope, charmingly played by Ryan  Reynolds, must be replaced and quickly if “Wormwood” is to be shutdown.

Kevin Costner possesses a psychopathic brain.  As Jericho Stewart, Costner will be the first memory transplant receiver. He plays deranged well. His backstory is a sympathetic one.  Violent passion has him left without any empathetic feelings or impulse control after being thrown from a  car as a baby when a man was told he was not his son.

Be  prepared for more on scene brutality on a Tarentino level. Jugulars are ripped open with big crochet-like hooks made  creatively from car trim ( must have been an older chrome-laden car) and heads are pummeled with lamps until brains ooze.

Israeli  Director Ariel Vromen reiterates the major theme: “You hurt me: I hurt you more.”  If this movie tends to question what makes us human it is glancing. Are we more than our memories and mapped neural connections?

Enjoy the cagey moves MI-5 style, endure the operative’s torture in a slaughter house, marvel at the  sci-fi brain transfer of one man’s memories to another’s body.  It takes a female operative to ask, “What are we going to tell his wife?” Remember “Face Off”!  And finally, enjoy Costner’s animal-like ferocity in a diner, a coffee shop ,and in a rare book room. Note how the librarian is treated when she states that there is a que. “There’s a line, and I’m in front of it, Sugar Puss.”, Costner growls. Public servants, beware of spit flying.

The larger threat of Wormwood is held at bay when  Jericho effortlessly recalls  Billy’s home security code. His small daughter and wife provide Jericho’s only glimpse at love. Humor comes in small doses in Jericho’s self-mutterings. When he speaks in effortless French, he  thinks he is  speaking Spanish, when he says ” Cheers”, he mumbles ” who the fuck says ,”cheers”.

The plot continues with the ” Dutchman” ( Michael Pitt) attempting to blackmail the U.S. Government. We question what is truly criminal. Jericho with the partial brain of Billy and his own brawn has the endgame figured out. One of the best shots has his car plunging off a bridge and him rising to the surface. See this film and ask yourself if we are just neural connections.

 

 

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