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Movie Review: Jason Bourne

The Bourne Ultimatum seemed like the last film in the series, however after some deliberation they tried to reboot it with Jeremy Renner in The Bourne Legacy. While this bridge may have appeased fans of the series, it was more of a speed bump and just wasn't the same without Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. This explains why there has been so much anticipation around the release of Jason Bourne. The trilogy left on a high note and in the absence of any immediate sequels, it could have been idealised, making the return of Bourne doomed to fail expectations.

How do you keep the series alive? Well, you make sure that Jason Bourne stays on the run and continues to unravel a series of clues to unlock his past. In this sequel, the dangerous former CIA operative is lured out of hiding with the promise of more information about his classified past. Perhaps the mistake is that Paul Greengrass should have reimagined and reinvigorated the franchise by turning it into a TV series.

Maybe Matt Damon isn't quite ready to become a TV series regular, which prompted them to release another "Bourne Identity" film. Fans of the series have come to expect certain elements to be in place and Jason Bourne is like a signature film, continuing the trademark tradition with blistering action set pieces, Big Brother espionage drama, an intercontinental manhunt, double agents and intrusive surveillance from the CIA.

Your enjoyment of Jason Bourne will largely depend on what you think you've signed up for. Those going for a typical Bourne action thriller will be pleased as this relentless film serves up intense action, quick pacing, suspenseful drama and the cornerstones of the Bourne series. However, those expecting an in-depth and story-focused film, allowing us to get more acquainted with the man behind the Bourne identity mask, may be disappointed.

Jason Bourne 2016

"Bourne... Jason Bourne. Seriously, you've never heard of me?"

Being the fifth film in the series, it still manages to attract an A-list cast. Besides Matt Damon, we have Tommy Lee Jones whose rich film history includes The Fugitive, Alicia Vikander who for all intents and purposes is playing a Yale version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Vincent Cassel who continues to cement his typecasting as a dangerous and twisted villain. Vikander has a similar look to Natalie Portman, which alongside Cassel may remind you of Black Swan. There is a dark and gritty edge to this latest installation, which is fueled by Vincent Cassel's hitman character, who has no regard for human life.

The production values are quite outstanding, especially when it comes to action, as nail-biting showdowns occur within city spaces involving a riot and dense traffic. The orchestration carries a great sense of reality and urgency, something you imagine Greengrass has tried to effect from his experience on working on Captain Phillips. The quick pacing and taut atmosphere doesn't really give you a chance to catch your breath flipping between CIA surveillance and Jason Bourne's attempts to uncover the truth. While the back story involves media sharing and a topical and introspective look at those who control privacy and access to information.

It's no secret, Jason Bourne is more action-orientated and delivers more of the same quality you've come to expect from the series. You may find yourself questioning why he doesn't wear more disguises, being one of the most wanted men in a world of cameras, but there's just so much exhilarating action and suspense that you don't get too much time to dwell on these things. It's a blast of espionage entertainment that encompasses elements from previous chapters and upholds the same high quality action. It could have gone deeper in terms of excavating the title character's past, but that would compromise the series's long-running concept, and how can we criticise Bourne for being Bourne?

The bottom line: Intense

Talking Movies with Spling - Captain Fantastic, Wonder Boy for President and Where to Invade Next

Spling reviews Captain Fantastic, Wonder Boy for President and Where to Invade Next as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Catch Talking Movies on Fridays at 8:20am and Saturdays at 8:15am every week on Fine Music Radio.

Movie Review: Captain Fantastic

Captain Fantastic is a bizarre clash of cultures. Raised in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father educates, imbues his values and trains his six kids to fend for themselves. Without a television and having to hunt for food, their cloistered Swiss Family Robinson style upbringing presents a number of challenges from societal integration to coping in a capitalist me-orientated America. Having extensive book knowledge makes them more than capable to think for themselves and much more adept than their peers, however, their inexperience renders them alien to their own country.

When their unstable mother is committed to a healthcare facility, they stay on in the forest, as their wise yet stubborn father tries to keep his children pure. Yet, they find themselves on a road trip using the family bus, Steve, which tests their abilities, their mission readiness for the real world and their own patience for folks deemed "normal".

Captain Fantastic is an eye-opening comedy drama, which essentially gives us an alien perspective on Western culture, contrasting the affects of a rural lifestyle and book smart education with those of our fast-paced, urban and dumbed-down societies. The results are deeply comical, compelling, thought-provoking and wildly entertaining as we venture forth with a family whose mother could've been Jodie Foster in Nell.

It's like the perfect blend of Into the Wild and Little Miss Sunshine. The good times wanderlust, spirit of adventure, political aspirations and return to nature from Into the Wild are present in Captain Fantastic. Both films even share elements such as the hippie roadies, the bus in the wild and the rebellious stick-it-to-the-man sentiment of Christopher McCandless. You even imagine scenes playing out quite perfectly against a similar soundtrack from Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder. Little Miss Sunshine presents itself in the offbeat dark comedy, road trip dilemnas, family politics and spontaneous devil-may-care nature of their escapades.

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

"I let my kids decide what I meant by 'Sunday Best'."

Writer-director, Matt Ross, is obviously concerned with the environment and the state of disrepair the world finds itself in. His commentary is enjoyable, if sometimes biting, and makes some comical observations by simply contrasting a righteously harmonious and self-aware existence against the boxed in constraints of a life lived on auto pilot. There's a definite slant, which is tempered by flaws in both systems, yet able enough to get its point across without turning into a full-blown sermon on "what the world needs now".

Beyond it's quirky appeal and timely exploration, it's underwritten by a talented cast headlined by Viggo Mortensen as Ben, George Mackay as Bo and Frank Langella as Jack. Mortensen is in his element as the self-made Captain Fantastic, who seems to have an answer for everything and the final word on everything else. He's in great shape and delivers a spirited and whole-hearted performance full of fire. His second-in-command is Mackay, whose role as a budding squire to his father echoes the family values coming face-to-face with the tangible alienation of their choices. Then, Frank Langella brings his considerable presence to represent good old-fashioned American values as the long arm of the father-in-law.

This is a red-blooded jaunt that continues to surprise with its smart writing, sharp performances and timely storytelling. It's infotainment in full swing, delivering experiential education through well-crafted drama and poignant comedy. The concept is refreshing, giving Captain Fantastic a bold and original flavour, even though it comes together as if fashioned by great ideas and themes from other contemporary films.

The bottom line: Spirited

Movie Review: Where to Invade Next

Michael Moore's latest documentary, Where to Invade Next, has a very similar format and slant to Sicko. Instead of contrasting medical aid schemes and healthcare policy with other first world countries, he's decided to rather stake a claim over other countries great ideas.

Using an American flag, he travels Europe and Northern Africa planting it once he's established that the idea could be feasible for America. France, Germany, Finland, Norway, Italy, Portugal, Iceland and Tunisia are his hunting grounds, where he investigates law, prison, gender politics, education and healthcare systems. Each investigation first explores what the big idea is through charts and interviews with insiders and then contrasts with United States, using a critical yet humorous tone, typical of Michael Moore.

Moore's documentaries usually are quite one-sided and Where to Invade Next is no different, delivering a perspective that he refers to as "picking the flowers, not the weeds". Being quite open about his method makes it easier to roll with his "worldwide" scramble for great ideas. While it has a similar format to Sicko, the tone is much more constructive, funny and optimistic. Instead of berating the United States and criticising it to the point of being labelled anti-American, he has chosen a much more relatable stance. The attitude behind Where to Invade Next feels more like a brainstorming session on a whiteboard than a direct attack.

Where to Invade Next Movie Review

"Friends, Romans, countrymen... lend America your ideas."

Just like Donald Trump's "let's make America great again" campaign slogan, Moore is concerned with proffering hope rather than simply poking fun. The collection of ideas demonstrate that these systems are currently in operation and seem to be working effectively based on the evidence. These are fairly broad brush strokes, not really taking into account any of the sub factors, but providing enough thought-provoking sentiment to spark the right conversations. His documentary does get quite provocative that times, touching on the Norwegian prison system in the wake of the 2011 massacre and unfurling his conspiracy behind the "War on Drugs' in the United States under Nixon.

Moore adopts a fairly casual approach to his interviews and has a good-natured sense of humour, not afraid to self-deprecate or applaud/tease his interviewees. He's not quite as funny as Ali G, but manages to keep things fairly grounded and easy-going. The incredulous tone, the eye-opening ideas in action and the express tour keep things upbeat and fairly brisk, however as a documentary it runs a bit long at two hours. The format's trademark Michael Moore style makes it more of the same for his fans and even while he has to use a makeshift pole for each flag planting to keep the concept alive, it works.

While not quite as shocking or accusatory as Sicko, Where to Invade Next makes a delightful follow-up, which picks up on the healthcare niche and broadens it to explore other key governmental departments. It's more accessible, simply because he's not just pointing (or flipping) the finger, but asking the right questions. It's a much more positive angle, and while it doesn't have the same snarky vibe as his previous films, it's hugely entertaining and will have audiences from just about every country wondering why their government doesn't take a page too.

The bottom line: Thought-provoking

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