Wednesday, December 12, 2007


The Bourne Ultimatum is the most visually displeasing movie since X2 : X-Men United. The hand held zoom-ins/zoom-outs, shaky-shaky pans, wide-zooms, tight zooms, shaky-shaky "holds", and 56-cuts-a-second approach isn't just irritating, it's cinematically disgusting. I found myself begging for a fully-formed composition, a well lit still frame, a close-up that carried emotional heft. Paul Greengrass and editor Chris Rouse know not what they do.
But don't forgive them... their hackery is a downgrading of the action genre. Looking back on the action flicks of '07 we should forgive Spider Man 3 and 300 their errs, and now elevate Transformers and Ghost Rider to full-fledged quality films.... for we have seen the trash that is The Bourne Ultimatum.

Tony Gilroy's regurgitated script is a disaster in itself. Relatable human dialogue is sidestepped for inanities such as these:
Pam Landy: You do not have the authority to kill her.
Noah Vosen: Oh yes I do! And you had better get on board!
Pam Landy: Noah, she's one of us! You start down this path, where does it end?!?
Noah Vosen: ....It ends when we've won.


Pam Landy: This isn't what I signed up for. (pause) What they did to you. (pause) Blackbriar. (pregnant pause) This isn't us.
Bourne: Then do something about it. Everything you need is in there...everything.
Pam Landy: David. Why don't you come in with me? It'll be better if we do this together.
Bourne: No. This is where it started for me.... This is where it ends!

But, amazingly, the critics ate this up!!!! Is it because Gilroy (the latest addition to the Gaghan/Haggis/Arriaga pseudo-intellectual & mucho-ineffectual troop) dropped in some topical C.I.A. leakage, chatter of "experimental interrogation", and NSA phrase dropping? Have our cultural gatekeepers and bullsh*t watchdogs become this gullible?!?!

I supposed that's what ultimately has stirred up so much bile in me. The Bourne Ultimatum is so textbook bad, so emotionally vacant, so poorly acted and it not only gets a pass, but is lauded as one of the year's best films! Agenda driven film criticism has taken over and it's drowning our film culture in a very shallow pool of ideas.

Death to Paul Greengrass. Long live Michael Bay.


Anonymous said...

I think it's presumptuous to assume that the critical praise heaped on Ultimatum has anything to do with its political overtones.

This year, films with clearly liberal politics (Lions for Lambs, Rendition, Redacted, etc.) were pretty much eviscerated by critics. Was it because of their political ambitions? Or was it because none of them worked as films? Is it possible that critics simply enjoyed Bourne Ultimatum (as I did) as a taut thriller with superb performances?

Deciphering a political agenda behind film criticism may make for a compelling narrative, but when this conclusion is reached haphazardly, it makes the political agenda appear to stem from the narrator himself.


Christopher said...

Have you actually seen Transformers?

Fox said...

I think the politics of "The Bourne Ultimatum" gave critics a reason to like an otherwise awful action movie by a director that they're SUPPOSED to praise. They have fun watching "Bourne" like they do watching CSI: Miami or Survivor, but they'll admit it with "Bourne" b/c of it's politics.

"Live Free or Die Hard" - which I saw the day after "Bourne" - is political too, but it's well made. Bourne is just shoddy through and through. It's politics didn't turn me off, it was just salt on the severed arm.

"Transformers" is a good film. It says something about men and toys, where "Bourne" says nothing about nothing. And where Bay can no doubt get erratic with the cuts and camera, he can at least compose a shot.

Anonymous said...

To borrow a term I often see misused on this blog, that's an extremely cynical analysis of film criticism.

Your opinion that it's not well made, or well-composed is completely subjective and completely justifiable (even though I strongly disagree with this opinion). But I don't see how that's related to your claim that critics are somehow following orders to love the film.

Using that logic, couldn't one assume you were "supposed" to hate Ultimatum because its star and director are outspoken liberals? Or that you were "supposed" to love Die Hard because its star is an outspoken Republican and war-supporter?

Just who's following orders here?


Fox said...

If this was the first time someone read my review/thoughts on a movie then they would probably presume a lot of things about me, but if they did a nice combing of my movie posts they would see I don't like/dislike films based on the director's or actor's political leanings (doing so would only be giving the reader a one-sided view of a cleary politically one-sided industry...

...which is exactly what I think A.O. Scott, J. Hoberman, Jonathon Rosenbaum, and Stephanie Zacharek do. It's made their writing much less tolerable for me to read as I've matured.

SAMPLE: "Jason Bourne, in theory, could be George W. Bush's dream historian, a loyal foot soldier who has been conditioned to obey and serve but whose mind has been broken and reconfigured to conveniently forget certain details and fixate on others."

That's how one of them starts their review (it doesn't matter which, b/c they're interchangable). They just can't help themselves. I mean look at Rosenbaum's review of "No Country For Old Men". He's a babe lost in the woods grasping at straws. It's really sad.