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Non-Review Review: The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Legacy is the kind of trick you only get to pull once. It’s an interesting narrative experiment, but it doesn’t really work as its own movie. It almost feels, at times, like a deleted subplot from the second two films in the trilogy, removed and expanded to fill two-hours-and-a-half. It’s certainly an interesting idea, and it’s a clever way of skirting the issues created by Matt Damon’s refusal to return, but the problem is that The Bourne Legacy never feels like it is entirely its own film. While it features two characters who have their own arc, the overall plot plays out according to storybeats that are happening off screen – in another story with another agent. It’s a fascinating take on the summer blockbuster, but I’m not convinced it’s an entirely successful one.

Bourne again?

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Bourne Legacy: A Look Inside the Story…

Have to admit, I’m quite curious to see how The Bourne Legacy plays out. It’s being released in the States on Friday and here next Monday. I’ve written before about how the structure of the film intrigues me, and Universal Pictures Ireland just sent over this behind-the-scenes look at the film. Enjoy. And if any international readers get a chance to see this before I do, let me know what you thought. (No spoilers, please!)

You can also win some Bourne-related goodies here, with thanks to Universal.

Win! Bourne Legacy T-Shirts!

Courtesy of our friends at Universal Pictures Ireland, we have five T-shirts to give away to celebrate the release of The Bourne Legacy on 13th August 2012. The film is the fourth in the “Bourne” series, and sees Jeremy Renner starring as another Treadstone agent dealing with the consequences of Jason Bourne’s activity. It’s being directed by Tony Gilroy, who directed Michael Clayton and wrote all three Bourne films, and it has one heck of a cast assembled. It looks to be a very interesting take on the story – rather than trying to carry on or continue the story from the first three, it looks like The Bourne Legacy takes place “around” those films, its own narrative that overlaps and intercepts at points.

Thanks to Universal Pictures Ireland, we have five T-shirts to give away for the film. To enter the competition, just fill in the form below.

Click to enlarge…

Note: All entrants must be based in the Republic of Ireland. You must provide a valid address and phone number so that you can be contacted if you win. Your details will not be used for any other purpose.

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New Bourne Legacy Trailer

Hey, here’s the new trailer for The Bourne Legacy. It’s the latest film in the Bourne series (the original trilogy consisting of The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremecy and The Bourne Ultimatum). Matt Damon isn’t returning, but the new film will focus on Jeremy Renner, who seems to be having quite a year. The supporting cast is suitably impressive, with David Strathairn, Joan Allen, Albert Finney and Scott Glenn all returning – while adding Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz and Oscar Isaac. (Personally, I’m also actually quite geeked to see Stacey Keach, Željko Ivanek and Corey Stoll playing supporting roles as well.)

Hope you enjoy.

I have to say, I’m intrigued at the approach they’re taking – it looks like this film is being structured as a sort of a “side-quel” to the Bourne series, exploring events from another angle. While it’s very clearly an attempt to get the “Bourne” brand out there, I think it’s a pretty cool way of playing with narrative – it seems structured more intricately than a simple reboot, sequel, prequel or remake.

One of the things I’ve found really fascinating about 2012 as a year in mainstream cinema is the way that the studios have been playing with narrative links. Prometheus wasn’t a direct prequel to Alien, more like a spiritual predecessor. The Avengers isn’t a direct sequel to any of the Marvel films, but rather a composite of story threads flowing from each one. I know people decry the rise of franchise cinema (as if that’s something new), but I thing there’s some interesting stuff going on here. I don’t know quite how it’ll work out, but I am intrigued by the approach.

Non-Review Review: Haywire

Steven Soderbergh is an interesting film maker. Even when his films don’t really come together as well as one might hope, you can’t help but admire some of his bold ambition. Contagion was probably one of the boldest major releases of last year, and it was always fascinating even when it was just short of brilliance. Haywire falls into a similar trap, with some nice ideas, some great scenes, but nothing that really melds into a particularly compelling film. Indeed, Soderbergh’s spy thriller is messy, undoubted as the director intended – but it doesn’t seem like a highly-energised kinetic mess so much as poorly-plotted and muddled mess. The result is a film that is occasionally invigorating, but also quite infuriating.

On top of it...

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My Best of 2011: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy & the Upstanding Britishness of it all…

It’s that time of the year. To celebrate 2011, and the countdown to 2012, I’m going to count down my own twelve favourite films of the year, one a day until New Year’s Eve. I’m also going to talk a bit about how or why I chose them, and perhaps what makes this list “my” best of 2011, rather than any list claiming to be objective.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is number two. Check out my original review here.

I can understand why some people were a bit disappointed by Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. After all, the trailer did try to sell the film as a bit of a high-tension action movie with a deft touch of British class, sort of like Jason Bourne meets To The Manor Borne. It’s easy to see why some people might have got the wrong impression of a movie that sold itself as an “espionage thriller”, the type of film that typically features moments on incredible suspense, nice outfits, exotic locales and the fate of the entire world in the balance. Obviously, nobody was expecting anything quite as showy as James Bond, but perhaps they anticipated a more sophisticated version of that type of adventure – without the gadgets and the supervillains and outlandish stunts, of course. However, instead of the “sophisticated James Bond”, la Carré writes what might be best classified as the “anti-James Bond.”

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Non-Review Review: Quantum of Solace

Note: I have another review of the film here, but this was written as part of “James Bond January”, after watching all 22 films in quick succession. This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

Quantum of Solace is a strange film. In many ways, it feels more like a return to the Bond formula than its direct predecessor, and yet it feels like less of a Bond film. It isn’t a case that film takes the franchise in a new direction while retaining its core identity (as Licence to Kill did, for example), but the feeling that there’s been a fundamental shift in the series, occurring under the radar. It feels as if, though the movie can talk the talk, there’s something different in the step – it can’t quite walk the walk, unfortunately.

Don’t leave us dangling…

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