I, Robot was fun. Fell asleep during the slow beginning parts of The Bourne Supremacy, and it got better from then on. Kind of a funny review below.
By JAMES DIGIOVANNA
The Bourne Supremacy. Directed by Paul Greengrass. Starring Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Brian Cox and Julia Stiles.
While superspies have many laudable qualities, like the ability to make love to supermodels while killing supervillains with superweapons, they generally lack the one quality that we all look for in lovers and puppies: They are not sensitive.
No, James Bond might pause for a moment before pushing his latest girlfriend in front of train when he finds out that her vibrator is secretly transmitting his erectile schematics directly to Ernst Blofeld, but it's only so he can say something pithy before she's squashed in a Bavarian tunnel.
But Bond will not cry a tear, nor will he think of her during his next sexual encounter in outer space. He's in touch with a vast network of informants and gadget makers, but he's not in touch with his feelings.
Not so Jason Bourne. In The Bourne Sensitivity, he cries real glycerin tears every time a kitten stubs its toe or an old man is lonely or a Russian assassin kills his girlfriend. And, since the film opens with a Russian assassin killing his girlfriend, Bourne is out for a good one hour and 48 minutes of kill-crazy crying and sniper-tastic sadness.
Mostly, as a super-spy, Bourne is into flatlining people with extreme prejudice. So when his girlfriend gets slotted, he decides to go kill the CIA operatives whom he mistakenly believes are responsible.
This seems like a reasonable course of action, especially considering that his girlfriend was pretty like the girl next door, if you happen to live next door to Franke Potente, in which case you live in Southern Germany, in which case Gott segnen sie.
So Bourne flies to Italy, and then things take on a weird, fantasy sheen. I think the rest of the movie is actually Bourne's dream. I mean, after he passes through customs--and in spite of the fact that he has a severe case of amnesia and is wandering around with nothing more than a pair of jeans and a playfully tight T-shirt--he somehow manages to come up with a large automatic rifle, a computer chip reader, a universal key and a giraffe.
As far as I can tell, he literally pulls these things out of his ass. There's no other explanation for how he got them through customs. Not that you could pull a universal key out of your ass, since there's no such thing, but then I'm going with the "It's all a dream" thesis here, anyway.
Which is reinforced by the odd camera work and editing that director Paul Greengrass and cinematographer Oliver Wood have put together. Combining extremely rapid cutting with shaky, handheld camera work, the two have produced something that is both a bit irritating to watch and a good bit harder to follow than it need be.
It makes the first fist-fight sequence really boring as well. It's unclear for most of it who's winning, and the camera jumps around so much you can't really tell why something is happening or, often, what has just happened. I'm all for being arty and clever with the camera work, but when someone is getting punched in the face, I want to see it bright and clear.
Anyway, after Bourne's done punching some random spy, he finds out that there's some weird triple-cross going on, and then lots of plot threads start to come together like horny hippies on the fifth day of Burning Man.
Meanwhile, back at the CIA, Joan Allen's bizarre helmet-hair is leading a team of operatives who must stop Jason Bourne before he cries again. This hair is so stiff and '80s that it looks like it was made of a million super-tiny Legos. Joan Allen was the perfect Pat Nixon in the movie Nixon, because she looks like she died, was embalmed and then got up out of the coffin to yell at the undertaker because her lipstick was .25 millimeters too high on the left side. Basically, she's like a really angry Stepford wife.
Her nemesis is not Jason Bourne, but rather her CIA superior, Ward Abbott, who's played by Brian Cox. I love Brian Cox. If I had to be a 58-year-old Scottish knight with really bad skin, I would totally want to be Brian Cox.
Sadly for Cox, he has to be the one to deliver the obligatory expository phone call. He actually has to utter the line, "You bought those oil leases for $20,000 in stolen CIA money!" While tremendously informative, it's not the kind of thing people say in real life, especially when talking over an unsecured line with a fellow superspy.
Besides the occasionally dopey script, the hard-to-watch action sequences (including a tremendously dull car chase that ends with Bourne exchanging insurance information with a dead guy) and Joan Allen's robotic acting, Bourne Supremacy is actually reasonably entertaining.
The pace is fast, and the plot, while filled with holes big enough to allow Tom Ridge to pass through unimpeded while he makes love with Roseanne Barr, is amusing. Even Matt Damon is fairly compelling, having managed to jam his face into a new expression, bringing the grand total of emotions he can convey to 1 1/2.
I guess I was hoping for something a little more, like careful editing instead of pointlessly showy editing, or informative camera work rather than a series of swish pans and jump cuts, and a plot that made sense on its own merits instead of one that relied on the magical appearance of large, deadly gadgets whenever they're needed, but who cares? People don't go to the movies to think; they go to stop thinking. For that purpose, I guess, Bourne does have a certain supremacy.