Rated PG-13 for brief profanity, violence and intense action
Matt Damon Back For Another Riveting Adventure As Dashing Rogue Assassin
A Jason Bourne movie just isn’t the same without Jason Bourne, as the producers found out the hard way in 2012 when they made The Bourne Legacy without the iconic title character. Fortunately, they’ve since settled their differences with star Matt Damon who returned to reprise the role of the dashing, renegade CIA agent which he originated and played to perfection in the espionage franchise’s first three installments.
The movie marks the reunion of Damon and Paul Greengrass, director of both The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), the series’ most successful episodes at the box office. While this offering might not quite measure up to those in terms of high-octane action, it nevertheless makes up for the relatively-subdued atmosphere with riveting cloak and dagger intrigue.
The point of departure is Athens, and a decade since we last saw Jason. He’s now fully recovered from the amnesia that had previously plagued him. Yet he has nevertheless remained under the radar, since he is still considered an outlaw by CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones).
We soon learn that Jason’s one ally inside the Agency, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), has also gone rogue. She’s off the grid in Iceland, working in concert with a WikiLeaks-style whistleblower (Vinzenz Kiefer) attempting to hack into the CIA’s computer files.
Nicky eventually tracks down Jason in Greece where she slips him the key to some incriminating evidence about the Agency as well as to answers about his own mysterious past. Their rendezvous, however, has not gone unnoticed by CIA analyst Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) who had been surreptitiously monitoring Nicky’s movements all along.
Next thing you know, Jason finds himself on the run from a bloodthirsty assassin (Victor Cassel) dispatched by Director Dewey. Meanwhile, Lee joins the chase, too, hoping to talk Jason into voluntarily coming in from the proverbial cold. The ensuing cat-and-mouse caper proves to be a trademark globe-trotting affair, unfolding in ports-of-call all across Europe and culminating in a visually-captivating showdown on “The Strip” in Las Vegas.
The film’s only distracting flaw is the sotto voce performance delivered by Oscar winner Alicia Vikander (for The Danish Girl) who inexplicably seems to swallow her every word here. Otherwise, the balance of the principal cast acquits itself admirably, from Tommy Lee Jones in the familiar role of an orders-barking boss, to Vincent Cassel as an appropriately-despicable diabolical villain, to the inimitable Matt Damon back in the saddle as the two-fisted protagonist.
A flagging franchise thoroughly revived courtesy of another inspired collaboration by Messrs. Damon and Greengrass!
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 123 minutes
Can We Take A Joke?
Samuel Goldwyn Films/Korchula Productions
First Amendment Documentary Indicts P.C. Police For Stifling Comedians’ Freedom Of Speech
George Carlin (1937-2008) once said, “It’s the duty of a comic to see where the line is drawn, and cross over it.” In many respects, he was merely doubling down on the philosophy of his mentor Lenny Bruce (1925-1966) who never saw a taboo he wasn’t willing to bust.
Lenny paid a steep price career-wise for walking the walk and talking the talk, as he was often arrested for obscenity just for doing his stand-up act. And although he was ultimately vindicated posthumously, having paved the way for future generations of irreverent entertainers, one can’t help but wonder whether those hard-earned advances might be in jeopardy.
That is the contention of a host of comedians appearing in Can We Take A Joke?, a documentary suggesting that the current climate of political correctness is having a chilling effect on their Freedom of Speech. Directed by Ted Balaker, the film includes commentary by such outspoken First Amendment advocates as Penn Jillette, Lisa Lampanelli, Adam Carolla and Gilbert Gottfried, who lost his gig as the voice of the Aflac duck over a joke that went too far in the estimation of his corporate sponsor.
They uniformly lament a recent cultural development reflected in members of the Millennial Generation’s being easily offended. “It’s almost like people have gotten soft,” observes one comic, adding, “If you’re easily outraged, please don’t come to a comedy show.”
It’s not as if Carlin didn’t envision this development. For, before he passed away, he warned that, “All the censorship is coming from the P.C. people on the left on college campuses.” This is ironic since universities once prided themselves on providing a safe space to express unpopular views.
A cautionary tale bemoaning the chilling effect of political correctness on free speech.
Excellent (3.5 stars)
Running time: 74 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening August 5, 2016
Nine Lives (PG for profanity, rude humor and mature themes) Kiddie comedy revolving around a narcissistic, real estate tycoon (Kevin Spacey) who mysteriously finds himself trapped in the body of the cat he’s just bought as a last-minute birthday present for his neglected, 11-year-old daughter (Malina Weissman). With Jennifer Garner, Christopher Walken and Robbie Amell.
Suicide Squad (PG-13 for profanity, suggestive content, disturbing behavior and pervasive action and violence) Adaptation of the DC Comics superhero series about a team of convicts recruited by the government to conduct dangerous missions in exchange for clemency. Ensemble includes Will Smith, Jared Leto, Ben Affleck, Viola Davis, Margot Robbie and Common.
Amateur Night (Unrated) A day in the life comedy about a cash-strapped architecture student (Jason Biggs) who reluctantly takes a gig chauffeuring call girls around town after learning that his wife (Jenny Mollen) is expecting a baby. With Ashley Tisdale, Janert Montgomery and Steven Woo.
Bazodee (Unrated) PG-13 for suggestive material and brief profanity) Bollywood-style romantic musical, set in Trinidad, revolving around an East Indian bride-to-be (Natalie Perera) who falls head-over-heels for a local soca singer (Machel Montano) hired to perform at her engagement party. Featuring Kabir Bedi, Staz Nair and Valmike Rampersad.
The Brooklyn Banker (R for violence and profanity) Fact-based mob saga about an ambitious banker (Troy Garity) who comes to regret allowing himself to be recruited by the Mafia. Cast includes Paul Sorvino, David Proval and Elizabeth Masucci.
Five Nights In Maine (Unrated) Character-driven drama revolving around a grieving widower’s (David Oyelowo) visit to his estranged mother-in-law (Dianne Wiest) in the wake of the untimely death of his wife (Hani Furstenberg). With Teyonah Parris, Rosie Perez and Faith Fay.
Front Cover (Unrated) Bittersweet romantic dramedy, set in Manhattan, about an openly-gay fashion stylist (Jake Choi) who falls in love during a photo shoot with a supposedly-straight movie star (James Chen) from Beijing. Supporting cast includes Elizabeth Sung, Jennifer Neala Page and Ming Lee.
Little Men (PG for smoking, mature themes and mild epithets) Coming-of-age drama, set in Brooklyn, about a couple of teen BFFs (Theo Taplitz and Michael Barbieri) whose friendship is tested by the tension between their parents locked in a landlord-tenant battle over rent. With Paulina Garcia, Greg Kinnear, Alfred Molina and Jennifer Ehle. (In English and Spanish with subtitles)
The Little Prince (PG for mature themes) Animated adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s beloved novella about an overprotected little girl (Mackenzie Foy) who is introduced to the wonders of the world by her eccentric, aviator next-door neighbor (Jeff Bridges). Voice cast includes Albert Brooks, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Marion Cotillard, James Franco, Benicio Del Toro, Ricky Gervaise and Paul Giamatti.
Olympic Pride, American Prejudice (Unrated) Reverential documentary recounting the exploits of the 18 African-American athletes who competed in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny (Unrated) Unabashed homage highlighting the life and career of the five-time, Oscar-nominated writer/director of Boyhood, Before Sunset and Before Midnight.
Sun Choke (Unrated) Suspense thriller about a woman (Sarah Hagan) recovering from a mental breakdown whose demons start to resurface when she develops an unhealthy obsession with a young stranger (Sara Malakul Lane). With Christina Amber, Derek Bevil and Jim Boeven.
The Tenth Man (Unrated) Prodigal Son drama about a Jew (Alan Sabbagh) who returns to Buenos Aires to reconcile with his estranged father (Usher Barilka) while exploring the cultural traditions that originally alienated them from each other. Support cast includes Julieta Zylberberg, Elvira Onetto and Uriel Rubin. (In Yiddish, Hebrew and Spanish with subtitles)