This weeks movie reviews including The Expendables 2, Bourne Legacy and more..
THE EXPENDABLES 2 (USA/16/102mins) Directed by Simon West. Starring Sylvester Stallone, Liam Hemsworth, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgre, Randy Couture, THE PLOT: It’s Nepal, and Barney Rose (Stallone) is once again leading a pack of grizzly mercenaries on a secret mission – this time to rescue a kidnapped Chinese billionaire. Only someone has beaten them to the punch, namely Trench (Scwarzenegger), also working for Mr. Church (Willis). That means there are two guys to rescue now. Back home, Church has a proposition for Barney and his team, a new assignment that might just settle the $5m cash missing from the team’s last job. Only snag is, he’s got to bring along a Chinese tech expert, Maggie (Yu Nan) – and the Expendables are, of course, an all-male team. THE VERDICT: There’s trouble once again at the old action heroes home, a riot of tongue-in-cheek panto action from former box-office giants and, hey, a young upstart or two to please those pesky box-office gatekeepers, The Whimsical Teenager. It’s The Wild Geese for a new generation of faded, fogey fighters who, now that their box-office bouts are a thing of the past, have become lovers. Arnie loves Sylvester. But not as much as Sly loves Arnie. And almost as much as Sly loves Jean-Claude. And Dolph. And, hey, everybody loves Chuck. Stallone – the ringleader here – reckons Expandables 2 is a “minor miracle”, and that the coming together of so many action stars for one movie may never happen again. Which is indeed possible, given that there aren’t that many action stars out there today to fill a panto reunion franchise in 30 years time. But is it any good, I hear you cry? Well, you’ll know long before you’ve sat down to watch Expendables 2 whether you’re going to enjoy it or not. The good news is, it’s funnier and faster than 2010’s $274m-grossing 2010 first outing. RATING: 3/5
TAKE THIS WALTZ (Canada/Spain/Japan/16/109mins)
Directed by Sarah Polley. Starring Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby, Sarah Silverman, Jennifer Podemski, Diane D’Aquila.
THE PLOT: A brief flirtation with dashing stranger Daniel (Kirby) on a flight home turns Father Ted awkward for Margot (Williams) when it turns out the two live on the same Toronto street. Margot happens to live with her cookbook writer hubby, Lou (Rogen), but she and Daniel nonetheless become friends. Finding herself drawn more and more to Daniel, even whilst in the throes of her husband’s large, loving family (including alcoholic sister Geraldine, played by Silverman), Margot’s fate seems destined. Coffee leads to cocktails, a swim leads to a day at the fairground…
THE VERDICT: There’s some residue from both her take on Monroe’s little-girl-lost in My Week With Marilyn and the faded romance of Blue Valentine’s in Michelle Williams’ powerful portayal here of Margot. It’s a performance that makes Margot almost likeable, being a character who, in just about any other actor’s hands, could have come across as a selfish and precious little bitch. Then again, that may be what actor-turned-director Sarah Polley (who made her debut behind the camera with 2006’s Away From Her) intended. Did Margot simply marry too young? Is this the seven year itch? Doesn’t everyone want to taste the forbidden fruit? To be the forbidden fruit? And, hey, maybe we’re always alone, no matter how good the sex might be? RATING: 3/5
THE BOURNE LEGACY In the wake of Treadstone being dragged into the public eye, Eric Byer (Edward Norton) decides to shut down the training programme by killing off all active agents. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) must fight for his survival.
The tagline of The Bourne Legacy tells us There was never just one, and this seems to be the whole explanation for the movie. There were more agents being trained and primed like Jason Bourne, and one such agent must fight for his life as the programme is shut down. Jeremy Renner stars as Aaron Cross, a former US soldier who was drafted into Treadstone after his death was faked. Renner proved earlier this year with his role in Avengers Assemble that he is capable of taking on an action film and doing it justice, and he continues to prove this in The Bourne Legacy. Renner is convincing in the role of a super soldier, but he is let down by a script and story that is less than satisfying.
Cross joins forces with one of the engineers of the ‘chems’ that help to create the soldiers strength and skill – Dr Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) – and together they fight to stay alive. Weisz does not stretch herself in the role, although her interactions with Renner feel warm and real. Since his turn as Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk, it seems to have all gone wrong for Edward Norton. Once a strong actor and star of some fantastic movies, Norton has been reduced to shouting in control rooms in The Bourne Legacy. Thankfully, he was wonderful in Moonrise Kingdom this year, and this may go some way to forgiving him for Skyping in his performance in this film.
The previous Bourne films were known for their complex and gripping stories, but it seems that the writers of The Bourne Legacy just gave up. The first hour of the film is spent tracking Renner through Alaska as he stares at the landscape and outwits wolves, and the rest is a mad dash through Manila in order to cement his new ‘super powers’. The pacing is all over the place, and while some of the set pieces are fun to watch, this does not make up for a slow start and a paper-thin story.
Director Tony Gilroy – who also penned the script – proved with Michael Clayton that he had an eye for the screen. Sadly his follow up, Duplicity, was less than impressive, and The Bourne Legacy is equally as disappointing. None of the actors are allowed to stretch themselves – although it is clear that Renner enjoyed the action sequences – and the audience finds themselves unable to root for the lead character as he is written too broad and too mysterious for them to relate to. It is sad to say, but it seems that Michael Clayton was a one off touch of genius for Gilroy.
In all, The Bourne Legacy proves two things; Jeremy Renner is a rising star who is comfortable in the world of action, and that the Bourne franchise should have been left to die with the departure of Matt Damon. Much like Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, this is a weak and disappointing fourth instalment in a franchise, and one that was not needed. Renner has moments of greatness, but if this is the legacy left by Jason Bourne, it is a poor and disappointing one. RATING 2/5
Review by Brogen Hayes
THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD (USA/Albania/Denmark/Italy/IFI/109mins) Directed by Joshua Marston. Starring Tristan Halilaj, Sindi Lacej, Refet Abazi, Zana Hasaj, Ilire Vinca Celaj. THE PLOT: It’s the rural north of Albania, and although there are police sporting such mod cons as cars and guns, the locals prefer getting around on horses, and dishing out their own justice, based on the 15th-century Balkan code known as the Kanun. So, when a conflict arises between neighbours over a right-of-way, and a death occurs, well, lets just say, there will be blood. Which means a few peculiar life lessons for the younger generation, including teenager Rudina (Lacej) and her brother Nik (Halilaj), their uncle now in prison, and their father in hiding. The former soon embraces the old traditions, whilst the latter is more interested in sneaking out of the house to meet his girlfriend. THE VERDICT: Californian filmmaker Joshua Marston follows up his acclaimed Columbian drug dealing drama Maria Full Of Grace with a giant geographical leap to an Albanian blood feud, delivering another somewhat traditional tale dressed up with a tint of exoticism. Rudina and Nik might as well be deep south hillbillies here, or Amish with attitude, but Marston and co-screenwriter Andamion Murataj deliver a rich drama that goes beyond mere thrills and Deliverance chills. Winner of the Silver Bear in Berlin. Which is nice. RATING: 3/5
SHADOW PLAY The spirit of Raymond Chandler will be lurking in the shadows of the Light House over the coming two months as they offer up a selection of film noir classics. Leading the way is Rita Hayworth’s finest hour, Gilda (playing Aug 15th, 19th and 22nd), followed by The Big Heat (22nd, 26th), The Big Sleep (29th, Sept 2nd), Mildred Pierce (Sept 12th and 16th) and, finally, Laura, which hits the Lighthouse on September 12th. For full details, go to lighthousecinema.ie. A season pass for all five films is €30.