MOVIE BUFF-ET: Jason Bourne offers familiar action, little intrigue in latest outing

Universal Pictures

After the release of The Bourne Ultimatum in 2007, star Matt Damon said he wouldn’t be interested in returning for a fourth turn in the role of Jason Bourne.

“We’ve ridden that horse as far as we can,” he said.

Evidently, the horse, Damon, and director Paul Greengrass all got their second wind as Jason Bourne, the fifth outing in the series and Damon’s fourth, opened in theaters Thursday night.

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The conceit of the first three films was that CIA operative Bourne had no memory of who he is, yet all his training and an unhealthy does of anger remained intact.

Bourne survived on instincts as the CIA sought to wipe him out. While on the lam, he experienced violent flashes of memories that gave him some clues to his previous life, but not enough to satisfy him.

This time, Bourne tells us in a voiceover that he has all his memories. Problems solved, right?

Nope, the CIA is still trying to eliminate him or rope him back in as an asset, and Bourne doesn’t care for either agenda, setting up an action-packed, two-hour game of cat mouse.

Damon, of course, excels in his most reliable if not popular role, performing dynamic displays of fighting and survival skills as Vincent Cassel, “The Asset,” attempts to put him down in a journey that rolls from Greece to London to Las Vegas.

CIA director Tommy Lee Jones and CIA agent Alicia Vikander match wits, attempting to outmaneuver each other behind the scenes in Washington. and Julia Stiles returns as Bourne’s former CIA Paris contact Nicky, whom he sent into hiding in The Bourne Ultimatum, to help Bourne out.

The film is well made, but the action sequences become a bit exhausting. The audience learns more of Bourne’s background, but at this point, does anyone really care?

The super-serious Bourne just isn’t as interesting to me at this point as, say, Damon’s character from last year’s The Martian. That’s not to say I want to see Damon in a sequel that sends him back to Mars, but that I’d rather seem him in new roles and in different settings.

However sequels are made for the fans of the character, and I’m sure many of them will enjoy seeing this film. If enough of them buy tickets, then it wouldn’t be surprising to see Damon saddle up for a fifth Bourne rodeo, but this is where I get off.

Grade: C

Classic Corner

From Here to Eternity

There are many great movies that feature fine casts who give standout performances, but there are few that top the 1953 classic From Here to Eternity in terms of drama and tragedy of the major and minor sort.

Director Fred Zinnemann puts his all-star cast through the emotional wringer and their performances turn the audience inside out before it’s done with them.

The film features Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, and Frank Sinatra as enlisted men stationed in Hawaii shortly before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the women whom they tragically love Deborah Kerr and Donna Reed. The film won eight of the 13 Oscars it was nominated for, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Sinatra), and Best Supporting Actress (Reed).

The movie is best known for the illicit kiss shared by adulteress lovers Lancaster and Kerr on the beach, as the tide rolls over them.

Suffering emotionally after blinding a good friend in a sparring match, Clift wants nothing more to do with boxing, but when his Captain (Phillip Ober) pressures him to join the regiment’s boxing team because of his talent, Clift adamantly declines, setting the two at odds. Ober orders Lancaster to begin court martial proceedings against Clift, but Lancaster, who is having an affair with Ober’s wife (Kerr) resists.

Sinatra plays Clift’s lone supporter on the base, but he’s struggling with alcoholism, which places both men in tenuous situations while spending liberty of base. Sinatra gets plastered and gets into a fight, while Clift is falling for Reed, a hostess at the club. From there, the film only becomes more tragic.

Ernest Borgnine and George Reeves (TV’s Superman) offer solid support to the main cast. Reeves’ role was to be more significant, basically a fourth lead, and as the story goes, Reeves was excellent in the part of a sergeant who had also had a fling with Kerr prior to Lancaster’s. Reeves had hoped the serious role in a marquee film would save him from realm of kiddie TV and having to don the itchy, woolen tights his role as the Man of Steel required.

Unfortunately during a test screening of the film, the audience made Superman jokes when Reeves appeared on screen, and the film’s producers had the bulk of Reeves’ role excised from the film. Word of what happened spread around Hollywood. From Here to Eternity was Reeves’ final motion picture. The only work he could get was the continued adventures of Superman.

Within a year of production ending on The Adventures of Superman, Reeves committed suicide, although some still believe he was murdered by or because of an angry lover Tonni Mannix, who was married to legendary Hollywood fixer Eddie Mannix.

In the film Hollywoodland, Adrien Brody stars as a detective investigating the circumstances of Reeves’s death. Interestingly enough, the big screen’s latest Batman, Ben Affleck, plays Reeves in flashbacks, and even dons the blue and red suit on screen.

While From Here to Eternity ended Reeves’ big-screen career, it reignited Sinatra’s. After winning the Academy Award, Sinatra proved to be as bankable on the big screen as he was behind the microphone, enjoying a string of film successes that rolled into the mid-1960s. Rumors that the mob helped Sinatra gain the role prompted a subplot in Mario Puzo’s bestseller The Godfather and its subsequent film adaption, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Zinneman, however, said he never awoke to find a severed horse head in his bed as depicted in Coppola’s epic masterpiece.