March 2021


Matt Damon

Ford v. Ferrari (2019)

DIRECTOR: James Mangold

CAST: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas, Caitriona Balfe, Noah Jupe, Ray McKinnon


Ford v. Ferrari, director James Mangold’s (Walk the Line, Logan) docudrama chronicling events leading up and involving the 1965 and 1966 Le Mans, is likely to appeal to the same audience that appreciate Rush, Ron Howard’s similarly-themed docudrama. The key difference is that the central dynamic here, rather than the “frenemies” there, is in full-blown “buddy movie” mode—albeit not without a little tension—but both movies do an effective job of balancing visceral racing sequences with strong human drama.

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The Great Wall (2017)

DIRECTOR: Zhang Yimou

CAST: Matt Damon, Tian Jing, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau


The Great Wall was touted as a major collaboration between the Chinese film industry and Hollywood, with the biggest budget in the history of Chinese motion pictures, special effects by Industrial Light & Magic, and a collection of respectable talent including Matt Damon, acclaimed director Zhang Yimou, and writers Tony Gilroy and Edward Zwick, but the end result is lackluster.  The Great Wall might be entertaining for twelve-year-old boys demanding nothing more substantive than some action, special effects, and big battle scenes, but is a waste of time and money for anyone else. Continue reading

Jason Bourne (2016)

jasonDIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass

CAST: Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles



With the total box office gross for Universal’s Bourne trilogy reaching nearly $1 billion, it was inevitable that the studio would want more, even when director Paul Greengrass and star Matt Damon were uninterested in returning, but their misfired attempt at expanding the Bourne “universe”, 2012’s The Bourne Legacy (starring Jeremy Renner as someone not named Jason Bourne), was a superfluous side tangent to nowhere.  A Matt Damon-sized hole was left in the franchise, a hole that has finally been filled, nearly a decade after he last played the part, with he and Greengrass returning to the popular action series.  Was it worth the wait (and the undoubtedly hefty paychecks involved in drawing both men back into the fold)?  Questionable.  Among long-awaited sequels to popular franchises, the simply-titled Jason Bourne is better than this summer’s unneeded sequels London Has Fallen or Independence Day: Resurgence, but it feels like a “greatest hits” cover of the original series, reheated and served for leftovers.  It doesn’t break any new ground; in fact, it rehashes various plot elements, to the extent that it comes across as an adequately engaging but ultimately superfluous sequel whose existence is unessential. Continue reading

The Martian (2015)

martianDIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

CAST: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, Michael Pena, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Benedict Wong, Donald Glover


Following in the footsteps of Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity and Christopher Nolan’s InterstellarRidley Scott’s The Martian, an adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel of the same name, is the latest in a trend of “hard sci-fi” movies that make serious attempts to give a reasonably realistic portrayal of space and the challenges that come with it (like the earlier films, the filmmakers consulted experts, with NASA involved as technical advisers during The Martian‘s script writing and production).  For Scott, whose prestigious name has taken a hit in recent years with unimpressive entries on an uneven filmography, this is a welcome return to form, and raises the argument that perhaps Scott is most comfortable with sci-fi Continue reading

Elysium (2013)

elysiumDIRECTOR: Neill Blomkamp

CAST: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner, Faran Tahir


Elysium is a tense, engaging sci-fi action thriller with an intriguing premise that’s good for almost two hours of entertaining escapism, but it’s also a film that wets the appetite while leaving us wanting more. Continue reading

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

DIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass


Matt Damon, Joan Allen, Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Scott Glenn, Paddy Considine, Albert Finney, Edgar Ramirez, Daniel Brühl, Joey Ansah


Treadstone, the shadowy government agency which recruited Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), appears to be dismantled, and the men behind it dead, but Bourne isn’t finished. Continue reading

The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

DIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass


Matt Damon, Joan Allen, Franka Potente, Brian Cox, Karl Urban, Julia Stiles, Gabriel Mann, Karel Roden, Marton Csokas, Tomas Arana, Oksana Akinshina


It’s been two years since The Bourne Identity , and Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) has been living quietly in India with his girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente). His memory still hasn’t fully returned, although bits and pieces are coming back to him. But he and Marie aren’t left in peace, when a sinister stranger (Karl Urban) starts tailing Bourne. Continue reading

The Bourne Identity (2002)

DIRECTOR: Doug Liman


Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles, Gabriel Mann, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje


In some ways, The Bourne Identity (and its sequels) are throwbacks to older, no frills action movies, without computer animation or special effects, just car chases and bone-crunching fight scenes. Continue reading

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

DIRECTOR: Steven Soderbergh

CAST: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia, Bernie Mac, Don Cheadle, Carl Reiner, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison, Shaobo Qin, Elliott Gould


After such more serious, heavier material as Traffic and Erin Brockovich, Ocean’s Eleven (a loose remake of a 1960 heist caper starring the “Rat Pack” consisting of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford) seems like a bit of a vacation, but if it’s fluffier and more lightweight and insubstantial than what’s typically expected from Soderbergh, it’s at least a breezy, entertaining heist caper that provides an engaging couple of hours.  Ocean’s Eleven isn’t really anything too challenging or special, but it’s a smoothly enjoyable diversion. Continue reading

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Classic American films: Good Will Hunting – the 10 best quotes from 1997  education drama | South China Morning Post

DIRECTOR: Gus Van Sant

CAST: Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Minnie Driver, Stellan Skarsgard, Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, Cole Hauser


Good Will Hunting could be summed up as an ordinary story well-told, but that verges on an oversimplification of what a difference a strong script, strong direction, and a strong cast can make. On its most basic level, it’s a formulaic coming-of-age narrative about a self-destructive young man and the friends he makes along the way who pull him back from the edge and help him recognize his own potential, and could have easily become mawkish and saccharine. But Good Will Hunting uses an edge to avoid excessive sappiness (even if it’s ultimately a “feel good” experience) and an intelligently-written script (by co-stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who took home Oscar gold for Best Screenplay), Gus Van Sant’s direction which culls genuine emotion from his actors, and a surfeit of strong performances (including one that gained Robin Williams an Oscar, and nominations for Damon and Minnie Driver) turns what could have been generic and formulaic into a powerful and affecting drama.

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