The Boune Flaccidity

Fourth Bourne installment falls flat: the fighting is routine, and dialogue is dull.

Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz star in the Bourne Legacy, playing now in Victoria theatres.

The Bourne Legacy

 

Although thriller writer Robert Ludlum was a crappy novelist, the dross of his Bourne books was transmuted into Hollywood gold via a trilogy of smart, fast-paced films that were popular and critical successes. By the time the story of amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne came to an appropriate conclusion that was clearly designed to preclude any sequel, director Paul Greengrass quipped that the next installment of the lucrative franchise would be The Bourne Redundanc. Although Greengrass’s worst fears weren’t entirely realized, The Bourne Legacy — complete with a new director and a new Bourne-style character — manages to take what was once a taut and hyper-kinetic cinematic aesthetic and turn it into something surprisingly flaccid and talky.

In this Bourne reboot, the cabal of government bureaucrats secretly running a rogue program that creates genetically enhanced assassins is fearful that a senate hearing may expose them. They decide to kill off their field and lab assets to cover their tracks, prior to retreating into the shadows for a while. Unfortunately for them, super-killer Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner, Hurt Locker, Ghost Protocol) survives the purge. Seriously peeved, and very well equipped to make his feelings known, Cross teams up with gorgeous geneticist and fellow purge-survivor Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) and takes radical counter-measures as the CIA ruthlessly hunts them down.

Despite a decent premise and lots of fine actors, Legacy is a flop: the fighting is routine, elaborate chase scenes don’t generate much excitement and the dialogue is dull. Where the original Bourne trilogy was almost literally electrifying, this sequel hits the Snooze button.  M

 

The Bourne Legacy ★★

Directed byTony Gilroy

Starring Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton

PG13 – 125 minutes

Continues at the Odeon, SilverCity, Westshore & Uni 4

 

 

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Best known for his involvement with the Bird’s Nest stadium built for the Beijing Olympics, Ai Weiwei became even more of an international figure when he went on to boycott those same games. An iconic conceptual artist, Weiwei was outraged at the way many of Beijing’s poorest citizens were displaced and trampled on by a ruthless government interested only in pomp and propaganda. It marked an increasingly risky level of public protest from a revered public figure willing to risk governmental wrath to critique China’s autocratic policies.

This inspiring and surprisingly down-to-earth man is captured in Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, a documentary portrait that includes a lot of footage of Weiwei’s more recent struggles with the government, most stemming from his activism after the devastating Sichuan earthquake in 2008. More than 70,000 died, many of them children whose shoddily constructed schools collapsed on top of them. The government refused even to release the number of dead children and Weiwei made an art project that listed all their names and dates of birth. This led to further confrontations with police as they shut down his blog, posted surveillance cameras at his studio, and physically assaulted him when he went to testify on related matters in Sichuan.

Never Sorry, a debut doc by American filmmaker Alison Klayman, unearths a lot of personal history of Weiwei that helps explain his brave defiance in the face of abusive state power, and the risks he continues to take. Although the person of Weiwei towers above this merely adequate film, it’s a great pleasure to watch.   M

 

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry ★★★½

Directed by Alison Klayman

Starring Ai Weiwei, Danqing Chen

NR – 91 minutes

Runs Sun.-Sat., Aug. 19-25 at UVic’s Cinecenta

 

 

PERFECTLY POTABLE

The “Bourne” spies don’t seem to have any fave drinks, so let’s ignore them and head to Chile for an exceptionally pleasing red. Bottled by drunk-sounding Errazuriz, their mid-price “Max Reserva” Syrah is a full-bodied fruit bomb with lots of sweet spice overlaying a core of black cherry. Round but not heavy, this is great value at $20.

 

 

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