The Bourne Legacy (2012)

Director: Tony Gilroy
Writer: Tony Gilroy and Dan Gilroy (screenplay)
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Scott Glenn, Ed Norton and Stacy Keach

The way I see it, there are two ways of looking at The Bourne Legacy: as a “Bourne” movie or as an action movie.  As the latter, Director Tony Gilroy (screenwriter for all the Bourne movies) does fine to compete with the recent stream of high octane films rife with crazy chase scenes and adrenaline pumping stunts; the motorcycle chase scene is darn exciting, though nowhere close to the benchmark high-rise scene in MI4. However, this movie is in no way comparable to the Bourne franchise I hold so dear.  Admittedly, the trilogy is one of my favourites, so much so that I was probably among many who had little interest in seeing this latest version until they inserted into the trailer heavy-handed references to Jason Bourne.  In fact, Gilroy’s use of clips from the Bourne Ultimatum in The Legacy (outwardly to establish a parallel time line, inwardly seemed simply to accommodate the trailer) only highlighted, for me, just how much this movie falls short.

What I liked: Jeremy Renner does a nice job of humanizing Aaron Cross (who is supposed to be a chemically advanced version of Bourne though we never see what makes him superior).  Rachel Weisz takes some time to settle into her role as Dr. Marta Shearing but by the end the two work well together.

What I didn’t like:  I spent the entire 1h 35min waiting for an intelligent, well-written, thrilling Bourne movie to start.

My rating: Forgettable.

Rotten tomatoes: 55%
IMDB: 6.9

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The Skin I Live In (2011)

Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Writer: Pedro Almodóvar and Agustín Almodóvar (screenplay)
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes and Jan Cornet

Directed by Pedro Almodóvar, this film is a real departure from the more lighthearted films I’ve seen from him (and compared to this, Talk to Her would be considered lighthearted).  The vibrant colour scheme and musical interludes are still there to remind us that it’s an Almodóvar film but I knew, before reading the credits, that this story came from someone else.  The film is loosely based on the novel Tarantula (or Mygale or City Lights…) by Thierry Jonquet about an amoral plastic surgeon (played chillingly by Antonio Banderas) who develops a synthetic skin and experiments on a young woman (played by Elena Anaya).

What I liked: I’ve always liked Almodóvar’s style.  I also enjoyed the way the story unfolds with jarring scenes that contribute only details to the full plot.  The entire story is revealed to us in moment, where we realize that the meandering path Almodóvar  has taken us down was always headed toward this end, which, in his way, makes the most disturbing scenes watchable.   The performances enable the audience to perceive depth of character, even in the case of Banderas’ unforgiving plastic surgeon.

What I didn’t like:  I find it hard to enjoy disturbing films, even if I appreciate them.   Rape is a prominent theme in the film which is not for all tastes (especially not mine).  Some important plot points are crammed into tight monologues and if you miss a line you will discover later that you’ve missed a crucial event.   Finally, the film tends more towards horror then any social message Almodóvar might be trying to convey and I was left wondering not what the film says about the world but rather, how calmly disturbing was the portrayal.

My Rating: Recommended.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
IMDB: 7.6