The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

IMG_0728

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Niall of The Fluff Is Raging. Thanks so much for all the reviews, Niall! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about The Bourne Ultimatum, IMDB rank 182 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

IMG_0727

The Bourne Ultimatum

*review written in shaky-cam*

“People, do you have any idea who you’re dealing with? This is Jason Bourne. You are nine hours behind the toughest target you have ever tracked.”

Pamela Landy

When I still watched TV the old-fashioned way, The Bourne movies seemed to be on all the time. They were on so much, in fact, that they began to blur for me and become one long, furiously-edited, shaky-cam mess of people speaking spy-jargon while looking at banks of computer screens, vicious hand-to-hand combat and incredible car crashes. Mostly, they provided a much-needed exciting jolt to the action genre.

There is a lot more to the Bourne movies than just action, of course, which is probably why they were so successful, touching as they do on ripped from the headlines topics like surveillance, rendition, sleeper agents, intelligence leaks, and torture. They are, in short, action movies for grown-ups and, if memory serves, they’re a lot better than the Robert Ludlum potboliers that are their source. They’re spy capers, but they are realistically grounded spy capers. After Wikileaks and Edward Snowden, the amount of eavesdropping going on in The Bourne Ultimatum is truly frightening.

To do justice to the third in the series, The Bourne Ultimatum, you really should watch the first two. A quick catch-up on The Bourne Identity: an unconscious man is rescued by fishermen in the Mediterranean. He has no idea who he is, nor why he has a microchip with a Swiss bank account number embedded in him. He heads to Europe to find out, meets a nice girl who helps him get to Paris, and then the baddies come after him.

Mayhem ensues. Wash, rinse and repeat.

The second film, The Bourne Supremacy, is both a retread and a continuation of the story, with Bourne cracking bones and crashing cars in Berlin and Moscow. The film has an added twist of vengeance – they kill his girlfriend, and we learn more about the secret government assassin programme, Treadstone.

You may recall that after a climactic car chase in Moscow, The Bourne Suprenacy ends with Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) in New York, speaking to Bourne on the phone, unaware he’s watching her from a rooftop. “Get some rest, Pam, you look tired.” The Bourne Ultimatum begins several weeks earlier, with Bourne still limping around Moscow, before stopping off in Berlin, London, Madrid and Tangiers. In real life Euro-railing is nowhere near as exciting as this.

The Bourne Ultimatum is a fitting end to the series. It’s a chickens coming home to roost story, as Bourne tries to find out who he really is and who started all this. I really don’t rate the follow-up The Bourne Legacy at all, and am dubious about the possibility of another Bourne film, even if it will reunite Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass.

Who started it all is Dr. Albert Hirsch (Albert Finney, seen in woozy flashbacks) as a psychiatrist who specialises in behaviour modification, and who erased the identity and personality of Capt. David Webb to create the hitman Jason Bourne as part of a secret project called Blackbriar. (except nobody would ever be so gauche to call him a hitman: in government-speak he is an asset – until, of course, he becomes a liability.) It’s inevitable that the two are going to end up in the same room together, so most of the film is about getting Bourne to New York.

Landy, meanwhile, is trying to help him, and playing office politics with a shadowy CIA operative Noah Vosen (David Strathairn). Their scenes together are every bit as thrilling as the chop-socky fighting stuff.

There are several exciting sequences including Bourne performing a brilliant piece of tradecraft in a crowded Waterloo Station; a rooftop chase in Tunis that ends with the most brutal fight in the entire trilogy; and a thrilling Manhattan car chase.

Okay, it’s still a big Hollywood movie, and even the smartest movie can have dumb moments. There are an awful lot of coincidences in The Bourne Ultimatum. It’s mighty convenient that the hunt for Bourne is actually a news item (would that really happen?) allowing for him to meet a Guardian journalist, Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) who provides some necessary exposition. Bourne finds a photo of Finney that accidentally falls out of a file.

And it really helps that Bourne`s old handler, Nicki Parsons (Julia Stiles) is now stationed in Madrid, where Bourne meets her at the CIA office. I`ve always liked Stiles as an actress, and she has never got the breakout role she deserves; she does very well in a small but important role. It’s heavily hinted that she’s in love with Bourne. There’s a moment in this film that a lesser movie would turn into a love scene, but the closest we get to romance is the following brief exchange:

Bourne: Why are you helping me?

Nicki: It was difficult for me … with you.

They stare at each other silently for a long moment.

Nicki: You really don’t remember anything.

Bourne: No

As for Damon, he’s great as always in the role. He looks weary and hollowed out, not the relatively spry youngster he was in the first film. He doesn’t smile once. He trained for months for the fight sequences, and he does look like he could handle himself in a scrap. The fights were choreographed by Jeff Imada.

Of course, one of the reasons why these films are so exciting is how they are shot and edited. An awful lot of information is crammed into two hours, and the film seldom stops for a breather. And it’s urged along by John Powell’s score. Even a mundane moment like Bourne picking the lock on a door is given urgency by how it’s filmed and edited (four shots in less than two seconds). There’s a fascinating interview with the film’s editor Christopher Rouse  here.

Spare a thought for Dan Bradley. He was the second unit director and stunt coordinator on the film, and many of the movie’s more memorable action moments are down to him, including the Tangiers rooftop chase and the Manhattan car chase.

Niall McArdle

http://www.ragingfluff.wordpress.com

Advertisements

The Silence Of The Lambs (1991) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

IMG_6393.JPG

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Niall of Raging Fluff. He also reviewed North By Northwest HERE and Gladiator HERE. Thanks so much for the reviews, Niall! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about The Silence Of The Lambs, IMDB rank 24 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB Review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews. I know I’ve made a few that are specific to the movie being reviewed. I’ll also do an IMDB update post soon & will post some more logos.

IMG_6488.JPG

Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Summary: In order to catch a serial killer, ambitious FBI-Trainee Clarice Starling enlists the help of another sociopath, Hannibal Lecter, who only helps her in exchange for revealing personal information about her childhood.

Directed by Jonathan Demme. Screenplay by Ted Tally. Based upon the novel by Thomas Harris.

Starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine, Anthony Heald.

***SPOILERS THAT WILL HAVE THE LAMBS SCREAMING***

Oscar trivia buffs know that only three movies have won The Big Five: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay. The three films are It Happened One Night, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Silence of the Lambs. It’s easy to see why the first two swept the Academy in their respective years. The Gable-Colbert comedy represents the very best of 1930s sophisticated – and risque – romantic comedy; it is sexy (legend has it that sales of men’s undershirts plummeted when Gable strode around bare-chested); and it has a madcap heiress at a time when films about the rich were a Hollywood staple (you don’t see many madcap heiresses these days). The Milos Forman film about inmates of an asylum bucking against the system and falling foul of authoritarian Nurse Ratched caught the pessimistic mood of the 1970s; it’s as much about Vietnam and violence in the ghetto as it is about mental illness (perhaps even more so).

IMG_6484.JPG

At first glance it’s less clear why Silence of the Lambs did so well. Firstly, the film was released in March, and conventional wisdom has it that only films released in the brief run-up to Christmas get Oscar’s attention. Secondly, its director had a small and devoted following but was hardly a mainstream name, and he made offbeat, quirky comedies (Married to the Mob, Something Wild ), not suspense thrillers. Thirdly, while Jodie Foster was a hot property after her Oscar-winning turn in The Accused, her co-star was essentially an unknown to most mainstream audiences. If Anthony Hopkins was recognised at all, it was probably as that guy from The Elephant Man (not the one under all the makeup, the other one). In fact, as is widely known, Hopkins was nobody`s first choice for the part. A lot of others turned it down first, including Gene Hackman, and I think that Hackman would have done a good job. I don’t know how it ended up on Hopkins’ desk; Hollywood had not been that good to the Welshman – he was stuck in garbage like Hollywood Wives, and he had a reputation as a difficult actor (perhaps deservedly so: for many years he was an angry boozer). Fourthly, the Thomas Harris novel had been a bestseller: would the film be faithful to the book? Finally, its subject was really quite gruesome, and the marketing people must have scratched their heads trying to figure out how to sell it. A man who kills and skins women? Another who eats his victims? And the cannibal and the FBI chick have a weird kinda-sorta romantic connection? Ew!

IMG_6482.JPG

As we all know, of course, they needn’t have worried. The film was a huge success and made the 50-plus Hopkins a character-star. I think he’s splendid in the part, but I’ve never understood why he wasn’t up for Best Supporting Actor, considering how little time he spends on screen (less than twenty minutes out of a two-hour movie). As for Foster, well, the cinema hadn’t had a truly strong female protagonist in a while, and it hasn’t had many since. Her performance is note-perfect; there isn’t a false moment in it. There’s a marvellous moment at the beginning when she steps into a lift and is surrounded by men: she’s tiny and she looks to be years younger than her classmates – how on earth can this little girl hope to catch a psychotic criminal?

The film also started a regrettable trend in Hollywood for serial killers (a trend that has produced very few truly decent films) and a much over-used trope: the genius bad guy. Even more regrettably, Thomas Harris and Hollywood didn’t know to leave well enough alone. Hannibal Lecter would appear in two further novels (one good, one awful). While the latest incarnation of Lecter on television has garnered all sorts of praise, critics and audiences were less impressed with Ridley Scott’s Hannibal (Foster refused to be part of it) and Hannibal Rising.

And before we move on, let’s not forget the elephant in the room: Brian Cox. The Scottish actor was in fact the first Lecter – in Michael Mann’s very stylish Manhunter (based on the novel Red Dragon). Cox only has a couple of scenes, but he’s terrifying, mostly because he appears to be so ordinary. It’s a far less baroque take on the character than what Hopkins does with it.

IMG_6492.JPG

Hopkins’ inspiration for Lecter’s distinctive nasal tone was, of all people, Katherine Hepburn. Everyone remembers Starling’s first encounter with Lecter: after enduring the oily attention of sleazebag Dr. Chilton, she walks down a long, dark stone hallway, a setting that would not look out of place in a gothic horror, the psychotic Miggs hissing obscenities at her … and then we see Lecter, standing perfectly still and bathed in light in the middle of his cell, a strange smile on his face. Then the whole bit about her perfume, his ridicule of her accent and bad shoes, the census taker’s liver, the nice chianti … fffffsssfffssssfffsss

Silence of the Lambs has a very different look and feel to Manhunter. Mann’s palette has bright colours, pastels, sunshine, a lot of white (Cox is in white prison garb in a white cell under harsh flourescent light), and much of it takes place in a slick-looking Miami (Mann created Miami Vice). Demme’s film has a wintry look (bare trees, strewn leaves) and drab and dreary settings (unkempt and kitschy homes in shitty small towns). The cinematographer is Taj Fukimoto. The sombre score is by Howard Shore.

IMG_6483.JPG

Considering its subject, the film is rather restrained. The most frightening moment in the movie is when Chilton shows Starling a photo of one of Lecter’s victims, and we don’t get to see it; all we see is the look of horror and revulsion on Foster’s face. Demme makes some very interesting choices where to point his camera, and there are a lot of point-of-view shots, and they can be unsettling. That is deliberate, because at its heart this is a film about coveting: about seeing and wanting what we see, and it’s also about what it feels like to be a young attractive woman who has to suffer men’s eyes roving all over her. Demme would go on to use a similar technique in Philadelphia with less effect.

I think the film does have some missteps, and they’re mostly to do with editing. The suspense of Lecter’s escape is dissipated by the fact that Demme chooses to focus too long on the bloody but still alive figure of “Pembry” lying on the floor. Five seconds into a scene that should be about fear and confusion and cops on the hunt, and the audience has already guessed that it’s Lecter on the floor, which kills the surprise in the ambulance. Similarly, when Starling gets to Jame Gumb’s house, the film uses a cliche cross-cutting device between where she is and where the other agents are (different house, different city).

IMG_6485.JPG

I haven’t even talked about Ted Levine as Buffalo Bill. There are two things of note to remember when you watch him in this. One, this is the guy that played the bluff police captain in Monk. Go watch an episode and see if you recognise him. Two, Levine maintains he was better in the audition than he was in the film. Can you imagine how creepy he was in the audition? Considering all the attention the film received, it’s a shame Levine didn’t even get a Best Supporting Actor nod.

IMG_6493.JPG