August 2012


Monthly Archives: August 2012

Lawless (2012)

DIRECTOR: John Hillcoat

CAST: Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska, Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Dane DeHaan


Based on Matt Bondurant’s 2008 historical novel The Wettest County in the World, a semi-fictionalized account of the Prohibition-era bootlegging activities of his grandfather Jack Bondurant and his grand-uncles Forrest and Howard, Lawless doesn’t reach the level of the bootlegging film classics it aspires toward, but it’s still an entertaining and engaging, if unspectacular, outlaw adventure that’s soaked in enough blood and moonshine to appeal to fans of the genre.  Its release in late August, generally regarded as a dumping ground for films the studios are not confident enough about to release at the height of summer, is a bit of a shame.  Lawless is a well-made movie that deserves a higher profile than it received. Continue reading

Premium Rush (2012)

premium rushDIRECTOR: David Koepp

CAST: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, Jamie Chung, Wolé Parks, Henry O


Premium Rush isn’t anything deep or substantial, but as its title suggests, its an hour and a half of breezy, fast-paced diverting entertainment that slows down as rarely as its characters.  Writer-director David Koepp has mined a previously little-used premise—bicycle messengers—for chase scenes that feel less generic than standard-issue dime a dozen car chases. Continue reading

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

DIRECTOR: Timur Bekmambetov


Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell, Anthony Mackie, Jimmi Simpson, Erin Wasson, Alan Tudyk, Marton Csokas


Did you know the Confederacy was allied with vampires during the Civil War, that Abraham Lincoln was a vampire hunter before and during his Presidency, and that it was only his delivery of silver to the battlefield that decided the Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg?  I kid, of course, but all of the above is what Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, an adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s tongue-in-cheek pseudo-biography, would have you believe.  Continue reading

The Bourne Legacy (2012)

DIRECTOR: Tony Gilroy

CAST: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach, Donna Murphy, Zeljko Ivanek, Oscar Isaac, Corey Stoll


Considering that the total box office gross for the first three Bourne films is nearly $1 billion, the temptation was too much to resist for Universal Pictures to greenlight a fourth installment, even when director Paul Greengrass and star Matt Damon were uninterested in returning (Greengrass dismissively referred to a fourth film as “The Bourne Redundancy”). Universal tried to work their way around this not by recasting Jason Bourne, but introducing a new character within the same “universe”, but their approach was flawed (in my opinion, forging onward with more Bournes without Damon was a dubious prospect to begin with). While recasting the lead every few movies works for, say, the James Bond series, the Bourne trilogy was not stand-alone episodes, but one continuing story. The Bourne Legacy cannot stand on its own apart from its predecessors. Familiarity with the events of particularly The Bourne Ultimatum is necessary. The audience is invested in Jason Bourne’s journey, and having “Bourne” in the title without Bourne actually being in the movie feels like a cheat. Having him incessantly mentioned every ten minutes and flashing a still photograph only further feels like a tease. Had this ended up paying off in some way, even with a Damon cameo, it might have helped matters, but it never does. The filmmakers try to have their cake and eat it too by constantly reminding us of Jason Bourne’s existence to make this feel like part of the series, but also get us invested in a new character, but the reminders of Bourne only make Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross feel more like an impostor and prevent the movie from fully succeeding in either direction. It doesn’t have Jason Bourne, but nor does it strike fully out on its own and try to escape from his shadow, and this leaves it a hamstrung and unsatisfactory episode. And even taken on its individual merits, The Bourne Legacy is diverting in the moment, but has narrative issues of its own.

Continue reading