‘Jason Bourne’ is a return to the franchise’s high-octane origins

The Jason Bourne of movies bears little resemblance to the Jason Bourne of the Robert Ludlum trilogy that began in 1980 with The Bourne Identity. That’s not a bad thing. The changes were the best part of the first three film adaptations of the Ludlum novels and now with the reunification of Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass in the new Jason Bourne, the franchise is back in a big way.

‘The Monuments Men’ deserves at least a small monument of its own

The cast of 'Monuments Men' (from right to left): John Goodman, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray
The cast of ‘Monuments Men’ (from right to left): John Goodman, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray

In 1943, at the height of World War II, it became clear that the Germans were engaged in the systematic looting of every major art work in Europe.  It was up to the soldiers and civilians who worked in the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Program to recover and repatriate this stolen art back to its rightful owners.  That is the true story on which the film The Monuments Men, written by George Clooney and Grant Heslov and directed by Clooney is based.  If you know anything about the actual events, you know that poetic license is in play.  The choices to exercise such license are good ones in this case, as was the decision that the film wouldn’t take itself so seriously.  This allowed the filmmakers to poke fun at situations where humor works, and still display the high drama that is war right up on the enemy lines.

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‘Promised Land’ is a vanity project that doesn’t dig very deep

Matt Damon gets to look good in vanity piece, 'Promised Land'
Matt Damon gets to look good in vanity piece, ‘Promised Land’

[rating=2]Starring: Matt Damon, Frances McDormand, John Krasinski, Rosemarie Dewitt, Hal Holbrook
Directed by: Gus Van Sant
Written by: Matt Damon, Dave Eggers, John Krasinski

Promised Land is the latest in a modern stream of films to weigh the costs of ecology versus economy. It stars Matt Damon as Steve Butler, a small-town boy made good who has left his Eldridge, Ia., upbringing to become a hotshot corporate salesman working for a natural gas company in the Big Apple. The film – co-written by Damon with hungry star-on-the-rise John Krasinski and esteemed nonfiction writer Dave Eggers – aspires to be a virtuous one about the honor of living on the land. But don’t be mistaken. Beneath the t-shirts, jeans and flannel, Land is a vanity project.

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‘The Bourne Supremacy’ is a fitting end to a high-octane action series

Matt Damon does one last turn as Jason Bourne in 'The Bourne Supremacy'
Matt Damon does one last turn as Jason Bourne in ‘The Bourne Supremacy’

[rating=3]Starring: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles, Karl Urban, Gabriel Mann, Joan Allen
Director(s): Paul Greengrass
Writer(s): Screenplay by Tony Gilroy, Based Upon the Novel by Robert Ludlum

Sequels fail more often than succeed to capture the same sense of action, adventure, romance, or whatever it was that made the original film work. Rare examples include Empire Strikes BackGodfather II and Superman II. In those cases, the sequel actually managed to outshine its predecessor.

Read more‘The Bourne Supremacy’ is a fitting end to a high-octane action series