By: Kevin Jordan
What, no clever title this time?
Seriously? That’s the best title they could up with? Considering The Bourne Redundancy is the most fitting, but worst for marketing purposes, I can kind of forgive them. But do you know what the worst part of the title is? It screws up the DVD shelf. The first three movies in their viewing order are also in alphabetical order (take your time). While Jason Bourne is in alphabetical order with respect to the franchise, it’s not with respect to the entire movie shelf. Now there has to be a J movie in the B’s and that’s just wrong. And don’t even get me started on the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies – what a cluster. My point is that, like its title, Jason Bourne is a generic film rehashing the same plot we’ve seen in every Bourne movie.
Don’t get me wrong, the film delivers on what we’re there for in the first place – Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) kicking ass. It’s just the stuff surrounding it is very tired. In a nutshell, here’s the movie – CIA agent discovers that someone wants to publicly out a black ops program (Ironhand), CIA director Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) jumps to the conclusion that Jason Bourne is behind it, young female go-getter agent Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) promises to deliver Bourne and save the day, Bourne meets up with Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), action-action-action, a Bourne-like asset (Vincent Cassel) is activated to take out Bourne, more-action, Bourne remembers some stuff, Dewey and young go-getter butt heads, climax scene, the end. With the exception of small details and tweaks, that describes the first two sequels to a tee. I even joked about it in my review of The Bourne Legacy – that the movies are very redundant of each other. And this doesn’t make any sense because the books these movies are based on aren’t like that.
(Without sounding too redundant, very mild SPOILERS coming up.)
The strange thing about the film is that the very first thing we hear is Bourne’s voice telling us that he remembers everything. If that were true, then why is he off on another crusade to learn about his past? Several times throughout the movie, Bourne experiences flashbacks revealing things he didn’t previously know or remember. This time around, the memories are of his father’s death and the circumstances surrounding Jason’s recruitment into the program. I understand that they’ve tweaked it to be that his memory of the event isn’t the actual truth, but it still boils down to learning about his past. Maybe you still want that out of these films, but I’m well beyond over it.
This is what we’re here for.
To make matters worse, he’s not even actively searching for answers in the beginning, he’s street fighting. He only gets drawn in because Nicky shows up at a fight to tell him what she found out about his father and the Treadstone program after hacking the CIA. Incidentally, this is where that conclusion leap happens by the CIA director – someone hacks into the black ops files and, even though there is nothing to suggest it’s Bourne’s doing, it must be Bourne. Thank you captain contrivance.
The truly missed opportunity with this movie is that it could have kicked off a narrative from the books surrounding an assassin known as the Jackal. Instead of revisiting the same tired what’s-my-past story, why not have the go-getter agent secretly recruit Bourne to help take out the Jackal? Let’s say the Jackal is taking out their assets and they need someone equally skilled who is outside the program to help. You could even keep the head-butting between Dewey and Lee. When people complain about Hollywood not being original, this is what those people mean (even though those people don’t realize it, instead couching it in the form of whining about sequels and reboots). Heck, you could even keep a smidge of the what’s-my-past story by having Lee dangle information in front of Bourne as his payment. This isn’t exactly a new plot either (Mission: Impossible and The Jackal both use it, to name two), but it’s fresh to this series.
In all fairness, the plot of this movie didn’t really bother me; I’m just noting that we’ve been here several times before. The one thing that did bother me is how bad they handled integrating current issues into the narrative. Ironhand (the black ops program) is nothing more than the CIA working with a social network developer (Riz Ahmed) to have a backdoor into said network (Deep Dream – a name as uninspired as the movie’s title) to collect everybody’s information to – say it together with me – “keep us all safe.” Hilariously, the movie tries to simultaneously emphasize the importance of privacy, but both just come off as trite and irrelevant and sound as bungled and tone-deaf as our real-life politicians. This might have worked if the movie had focused on this as its main plot, rather than Bourne’s past, but, well now I’m starting to sound repetitive.
Much has been written by critics and users about how the new Star Trek movie is nothing special, that it’s more like a mid-season episode of a television series with nothing new to say. Jason Bourne is very much the same. But, is that a bad thing? Most of us watch those repetitive shows precisely for the familiarity and formula and count the days to next week’s episode. Most importantly, if you’re a fan of Damon or Vikander, you will be very pleased with this film. It’s just that with movies, a multi-year wait in between episodes leads us to want more out of the movie. At the very least, they could have given us a more familiar title.
Rating: Ask for four dollars back. Or two if you like Damon and Vikander as much as I do.
Kevin Jordan Molli Jordan
We interrupt this programming to bring you a special message.
Over the past couple of years, women’s equality has been a major topic of discussion, especially in the entertainment industry. Equal pay and lack of female leads have been two prominent issues in the film industry. Then there’s GamerGate in the video game industry. (If you haven’t heard of GamerGate, I’m not even sure you should go look it up. I’ve read a bunch of stuff and I still don’t fully understand it. It’s a combination of misogynistic assholes, corrupt game journalists, and extremist feminists all accusing each other of being terrible people…I think.) Most recently, we’ve had to put up with the asinine narrative surrounding the Ghostbusters remake, in which Sony and many media outlets accused anyone not liking the film of being sexist because a handful of actual sexists started trolling the film when it was announced that the Ghostbusters would all have vaginas. I have no idea why the sexists had to be such raging dicks about Ghostbusters (other than because they actually are raging dicks) because the women spend a good portion of the movie waving phalluses around. I also don’t know why pro-women’s movement people would defend Ghostbusters for the same reason – giving a woman a fake dick doesn’t make them equal to men (also, it’s an atrocious movie). Luckily, after two years of people getting all wound up over the wrong things, we finally have an example in film that actually is pro-women without pandering, lying, or making them drive giant penis-shaped trucks (sorry Furiosa) – Bad Moms.
The genius of Bad Moms is that it isn’t just a movie to empower women, though it primarily is that. If you’re the kind of guy who doesn’t understand deadbeat dads or men that refuse to change diapers, this movie is for you as well…but in a whole different way.
[Jostling at the computer…wife cuts in.]
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Does anyone else see the irony in a man reviewing a movie, and talking about how it empowers women?
I read and edit all of the Number-9 movie reviews, and he tends to ramble. Let’s just get to the point.
He’s not wrong. Bad Moms is a great pro-woman, pro-mom movie. It offers a wonderful peek into how moms often get the short end of the stick. And I don’t mean from men, and I don’t even mean the dirty-diaper-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-clean-barf-off-my-shirt end of the stick. I mean the pressure to simply do a good job. Books tell you that you suck (“don’t drink caffeine while you’re pregnant, or your baby might have eleven toes”). Articles tell you that you suck (“14 alternatives to watching TV this summer”). Pinterest tells you that you suck (“77 bento box lunches that don’t include sandwiches”). And other moms might not tell you to your face that you suck, but they’re sure as hell thinking it. Being a mom can often feel like you’re doomed to fail, even when you’re doing the best you can.
Bad Moms walks right up to those books and articles and people…and flicks them all in the nipple.
Bad Moms is realistically empowering. This is key. Empowering a female character does NOT mean dropping her into an established male role, handing her a penis-like weapon so she can shoot stuff, while her impossibly stupid, male secretary cowers in the corner. Empowering a female character is building up her power IN THE SPACE SHE ALREADY OCCUPIES. Ghostbusting is not relatable. Tearing down entitled, insensitive men is funny the first couple of times (I will admit), but still does not drive home the point. ….But a female character showing up at a 3-hour PTA meeting about food allergens in the bake sale on a Friday night with food spilled on her blazer, resulting in a mental breakdown and a wine binge….now THAT’s relatable.
Not to mention, Bad Moms is funny. Fuuuuuuunny. If you don’t laugh during this movie, then you’re probably the author of those condescending Pinterest articles.
I drank Diet Cherry Pepsi while pregnant. My kid watched non-stop Paw Patrol all weekend. And his lunches this week included cheese sticks and Fig Newtons. ….I’m often just doing the best I can. And my family is going to be juuuuust fine. Including my husband, who (thank the Lord) is NOT a nincompoop.
Rating – Two enthusiastic tits up. Because I actually put on a bra today.
By: Kevin Jordan
I normally don’t mention who I think should watch certain movies because I’d like to think everyone is open to any movie (they’re not). Plus, people have different tastes in movies. Some people like big, loud action flicks, others like romantic comedies, and still others can’t get enough documentaries. But there are some movies that seem to be made for nobody and today that movie is Into the Forest. I get that certain people are entertained by certain things – and, ultimately, the point of a movie is to entertain while telling a story – but I have no idea who is going to be entertained by Into the Forest.
For starters, this movie is classified as science fiction. As a big fan of science fiction, I can unequivocally tell you that, in no way, shape, or form is this movie science fiction. Here’s the movie summary from IMDb – “After a massive power outage, two sisters learn to survive on their own in their isolated woodland home.” Apparently, anything considered apocalyptic is science fiction and Arthur C. Clarke just rolled over in his grave. The power outage is never explained, there are no aliens lurking in the woods, and nobody is driving hovercars or teleporting around the country. In fact, the sisters’ (and father’s) mode of transportation is an old Jeep Cherokee. Does that sound like science fiction? Of course it doesn’t – science fiction requires science (somebody should tell that to the SyFy channel in regards to some of their “movies”).
But the bigger reason I can’t identify an audience for the film is because the film has no plot. And I don’t mean a thin plot or a convoluted plot, I mean zero plot. That summary I read you is literally the entire movie. Let me expound a little to prove it (and by prove it I mean some SPOILERS).
Nell (Ellen Page) and Eva (Evan Rachel Wood) live with their father, Robert (Callum Keith Rennie) in the deep northwest (USA, or Canada) woods, away from the nearest town. We know they’re secluded because they tell us that it is a three-day walk to town. Nell is studying for some exam that she doesn’t need to take, explaining that “I just want to know if I would have got in.” Her only other interest is her boyfriend, Eli (Max Minghella), because she’s a horny teenager (which kind of explains the test thing). Eva is a ballet dancer practicing for a national competition, but also trying to recover from a past knee injury. This is the only thing that matters to her as their house has a dance studio in it. Robert is a Mr. Fix-it kind of guy, but the kind who thinks covering holes in the roof with a tarp is a good idea for a house in a very soggy climate. This stuff only matters because you will spend the first hour of the movie watching them do these things (dad’s lack of attention to detail leads to a predictable chain saw accident leaving the two sisters on their own), but without electricity. After dad is gone (much earlier in the film), we get to see that the word “learn” in that movie summary is kind of a lie.
The truth is they survive doing as little as possible. Apparently, Robert was a doomsday prepper because the girls survive for fifteen months almost exclusively on food stored in the house. To be fair, they have chickens (that don’t last) and plant some pumpkin seeds, but it doesn’t occur to them to start foraging in the forest until several months into the blackout. Even worse, we are told there are wild pigs running around and they don’t hunt them until month fourteen. Wait – that can’t be right. One, two…yep, fourteen months. (Who wouldn’t go searching for live, fresh bacon?!) But the food is just the tip of the iceberg. Remember the tarps I mentioned? Those never get replaced by actual wood or metal to seal up the house and the film shows us the black mold growing throughout the house. And, yes, this leads to the house literally falling down around them. They also chop wood every now and then, but that’s the extent of any survival activities going on with this family. Even after several weeks of the power not returning and dad’s death, these girls continue studying and dancing as if those things are still going to happen (yes, I get that some people would live in denial, but this was a little over the top), rather than doing anything to survive.
Survival means arguing over gas to listen to music.
As the movie drug on and I checked the time every three minutes (this might be the slowest movie I have ever seen), I wondered if they were ever going to get to a point. As it turns out, they do, but probably the worst and most unexpected point you could imagine. As it turns out, Robert was not a good planner beyond stockpiling food. Case in point, they own a generator because it’s prudent to own such a thing when you live in the boonies, but didn’t stockpile any fuel (nor any for their car). Wait, so dad thought to save food, but not gas? Early in the blackout, they drive into town to stock up on goods and he’s able to purchase just five gallons of gas. That’s their entire fuel supply, which includes if they decide to drive to town and back again. The gas leads to fighting between the sisters (Eva wants to use her share to play music while she practices dancing) because, say it with me friends – contrivance. The movie was so dull they needed a reason for the sisters to fight, even though it might be the dumbest reason ever concocted considering the scenario (though points to how incompetent these two women are).
Anyway, there are three semi-interesting things that happen in the movie from the time dad dies until the credits role. The first is when Eli shows up and asks them to go with him to Boston. There’s a rumor that Boston is back up and running, but Eva doesn’t want to leave because, sometimes, you just gotta dance (also, she balks at the eight-month walking trip). Nell decides to go, but not until after getting naked with Eli in a hollowed out tree stump-turned childhood fort. I note this because we get to see all of Ellen Page and she is definitely successful enough in her career to not need to do nude scenes. Of course, Nell changes her mind and returns, though without Eli.
I hope they didn’t get any splinters.
The second thing is when a creepy dude from town shows up and rapes Eva. Yes, the movie was so bored with itself that it needed a rape to get our attention back. Like the fighting over the gas, this scene is totally contrived, also because of the gas. The guy that sold them the gas is the rapist and he walked three days to their house, deep into the woods, why? For enough gas to get him back to town and a little further when he could have just walked the other direction to begin with? And, Nell was out in the forest picking berries all by herself because it makes total sense for them not to go out into a dangerous place together. But, hey, where two contrivances are good, three is better, as this leads to the third thing and the message this movie wanted to convey – abortion is bad. I told you you wouldn’t see that coming.
After both Nell and Eva realize Eva is pregnant, Nell cracks a book to learn about abortions and when she mentions to Eva that they should discuss their options, Eva immediately fires back “I’m keeping this baby. It’s not responsible for its dad’s actions.” Nell opens her mouth to argue, but Eva shoots her down and they move on with no more discussion. This is the point in the movie where I was internally cussing (okay, externally as well). Forget about how you feel about abortion for a moment – this movie is asking us to swallow Eva being cognizant enough to argue pro-life despite being a shell of a human due to the trauma of being raped (she even refuses to eat) and immediately returning to that shell after the argument. And that’s on top of them having little to no food, a decrepit house, and the fear of the rapist (or anyone else for that matter) showing up again, which Nell doesn’t even bring up even though she was extremely practical in the gas argument. It’s bad enough that the movie was dull, but to become incoherent and preachy destroyed what little narrative this movie attempted to have.
(Side note: for the record, had the argument been pro-choice I would have reacted the same way. The fact that Eva gets pregnant at all is a shitty element, especially since they make a big deal out of Nell not getting pregnant earlier in the movie. If Nell had gotten pregnant, it would have sort of fit in with them continually making bad decisions to survive.)
My expression during the entire film.
Between the lack of plot, interminably boring stretches of movie, unsympathetic characters, and stupid political content (not to mention a complete lack of even marketing this movie), I can’t even begin to guess at who might enjoy this movie. A little research reveals that the movie is based on a book of the same title (by Jean Heglund), published in 1996. It sold 100,000 copies, meaning it wasn’t even a popular book, and I have a hard time believing that many of those people even know it was adapted into a movie (nor, do I suspect, would they care). If the movie is anything like the book, I guess the people who should watch this movie are the people who were able to read the book in its entirety. So, Heglund’s mom?
Rating: Ask for your all of your money and time back. This movie isn’t for you.