Thursday, 30 August 2012

Film Review: 31 August

Renner isn’t quite Matt Damon but Rachel Weisz certainly helps

Written by Barry Norman


Same old, same old – a sequel too far. Which is not to say that this is a bad film; once you decide there's not much point in trying to make head or tail of the plot it's really quite entertaining. But essentially it's a rehash of the earlier films – those in which Jason Bourne actually appeared and which starred Matt Damon – with one extra twist.

Bourne, it seems, is still out there somewhere, pursued by the same people who tried to kill him throughout the first three movies, in other words his employers. Meanwhile, in a project called Operation Outcome, those same employers, a deeply sinister American secret-service outfit headed by Edward Norton, have created nine superhuman beings possessed of extraordinary mental and physical abilities. Chief among these is one Aaron Cross, played by Jeremy Renner.

Now – I may have got this wrong but if so I don't care – it appears that Bourne's very existence endangers the whole operation so Norton decides it must be closed down and the other nine superbeings, not to mention practically everyone who ever knew they existed, exterminated to avoid a massive scandal.

(At this point you do begin to wonder why these übermenschen were ever invented, since the only enemies they seem to have are their own creators.)

Anyway – that extra twist. In order to retain their superhuman powers Renner and company must take a daily dose of pills otherwise they revert to being the very average Joes they were before. So, the other eight having been dealt with, we follow Renner in his quest for pills, starting for some reason in Alaska where he wrestles with a wolf, as I suppose anyone might.

His search brings him into contact with Rachel Weisz, a genetic scientist, who knows all about the pills and is therefore also marked for extinction. Together they go on the run, ending up in Manila where they're involved in a chase that goes on forever. And all the while Norton and his cohorts, among them Stacy Keach and Scott Glenn, are trying to track them down and kill them.

Incidentally, if you think we're subjected to too many surveillance cameras in this country you should see the electronic equipment Norton has at his command; he knows where anyone is anywhere in the world at any time.

The film was directed and co-scripted by Tony Gilroy, who has written all the Bourne movies. He lacks the directorial flair of Paul Greengrass, who made the last two, but to counterbalance the lack of logic and the confusing techno-babble with which the bad guys converse he throws in bags of action and violence for the younger crowd.

Mercifully Weisz isn't just used as eye candy, as women often are in such films, but is given stuff to do and Renner is fine. He doesn't yet have the same presence as Damon but no doubt that will develop because, the way things finish up, you can bet your life another sequel is coming.

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