Sunday, August 12, 2012

Movies of the Weekend: The Bourne Legacy and The Campaign

There is not enough of this action
The Bourne Legacy is tough movie to think about. This fourth movie ofthe series is part fan service for the prior trilogy and part attempt to introduce a new lead character for a new series. However, the createors seemed to forget what made the original films a fun and different take on the action hero.

The first thing missing is the action. Legacy is filled with scenes of people yelling at each other, yelling into phones and not much action. Worse yet, the characters yell about random code works such as "treadstone", "blackbriar" and "outcome" constantly without properly explaining them. As a reboot to the series, it is a mistake not to reintroduce us to the Bourne world. Having Ed Norton with a constant upset face yelling these three words in every scene is disappointing and confusing.

The other issue is the new lead, Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross. He doesn't have a compelling story. I couldn't buy him as a hero, for much of the first part of the movie, he is a junkie searching for a fix. On his search for his fix, he finds and protects a doctor played by Rachel Weisz, and the two go on an adventure to find the cure for Cross's addiction. Not exactly a guy you want to ever cheer for.

The Bourne Legacy doesn't leave up to the legacy of its predecessors, the lack of action, the confusing story and the lack of a interesting hero, really made this a disappointment.

** Stars

The Campaign suffers from the same thing that has plauged most of the comedies released in 2012. It is only sometimes funny. Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, the candidates running for congressman of the 14th district of North Carolina. Both characters are buffonish to the point where you can't believe at any of these men had any chance at successfully using the bathroom much less run a political campaign. There are some funny scenes, my favorite is whenFerrell and Galifianakis trash talk each other before their first debate. However, most of the scenes are just over the top silly and not very funny. The movie needed a straight man for one of the leads to play off. Two buffons riffing off each other just doesn't work.

There is potential for better comedy here, especially since Jason Sudeikis, John Lithgow and Dan Ackroyd are wasted as supporting characters. It feels as though there was more to the screenplay originally and was chopped down to fit the 85 minute run time.

** stars

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Killer Joe: I Might Not Look at Fried Chicken the Same

A drug dealer, Chris (Emile Hirsch), who owes his suppliers money, plans with with his father, stepmother, and sister Dottie (Juno Temple) to kill his mother in order to take the proceeds of her life insurance whose beneficiary is Dottie. Chris arranges for a contract killer, Joe (Matthew McConaughey) to kill his mother. Since Chris doesn't have the money to pay Joe's upfront fee, so Joe offers to take Dottie as retainer for his services. As is often the case, things don't go as planned.

That's the plot of William Friedkin's Killer Joe, based on the play of the same name. A rather simple story, but that's not what makes Killer Joe a great film.

What makes Killer Joe work is McConaughey's fantastic performance as Killer Joe Cooper. Throughout the movie, he uses his natural Texas charm to make his Joe both a charming and menacing character. There are two amazing scenes in the film, one where Joe and Dottie are alone in a trailer home and the final scene with the entire family, McConaughey slowly builds the character of Joe into a both an alluring and disturbing personality.

The last twenty minutes of the movie are tense a slow build to a fiery conclusion, even though final minute or two felt rushed and unexpected, with not enough justification of what happened. Those final two minutes are not enough to turn me off from Killer Joe.

***1/2 stars