Commentary

August 24, 2012

Fly Over: “The Bourne Legacy”, “Fifty Shades of Gray”

by Jayson Burns and Denise Wilhite

While not as numerous or historic as the Bond films, the Bourne series has become an example of how secret agent movies are done right. They put together all the ingredients like action, espionage, tension and the like without burning it to an inedible mess. So, with their success, it’s no surprise that they wish to continue the story with “The Bourne Legacy”, but as the film stands on its own I can’t help but wonder if it lived up to its title.

The fourth entry in the Bourne series begins with Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), a chemically-altered agent of Operation Outcome, surviving an assassination attempt by his own employers.

Outcome is suffering from the same legal consequences as the previous antagonists brought about by the exploits of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), and so has decided to eliminate all assets. Scientist Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) becomes a target as well, but is saved by Cross so that she can help him keep his body at its chemical and physical peak without having to ingest the Outcome-issued pills. The two go on the run as their old agency hunts them down across the globe.

Compared to an amnesiac uncovering his lost past and striking back at the people responsible, finding a way to stop taking pills seems a little weak. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad this story wasn’t a repeat of the other films, but this plot seems more effective as a first act than as the main focus.

The ending was underwhelming as well, even if a sequel is a distinct possibility. On top of all that, characters and plot points seem to swing past too quickly. Also, the means by which Outcome tracks the duo seems a little obvious for Cross to fall for (then again, I haven’t been hunted down by a government agency … yet). To add a more positive note, though, there’s a strong amount of tension in some scenes and the characters act intelligently for the most part.

The acting from the three leads in “Legacy” is solid. Renner and Weisz have yet to disappoint me, and their characters interact well with each other while being strong enough on their own. Edward Norton does a good job as Eric Byer, the man in charge of hunting the other two down, but doesn’t really stand out since his only role is to give orders to his subordinates. It’s hard to comment on much of the other actors, however, since they’re given even less substance than Norton’s character.

With nothing really major coming to mind, the film is shot professionally. There are a few minor moments of shaky-cam in the fight scenes, but they’re all still brutal and comprehensible (you’re doing something right when you make the audience shout “OOOOH!”). Legacy’s obligatory chase scenes are also pretty engaging as the film goes by at a fairly reasonable pace, and it’s always nice when a spy film doubles as a world tour.

“The Bourne Legacy” had some great acting from its stars and some intense action scenes, but by the end I failed to see how it really earned the “legacy” in its title. I have no doubt more will be revealed in the inevitable sequel (just like “Prometheus”), but on its own merit I don’t think it did enough to keep me completely satisfied (just like “Prometheus”).

The Bourne Legacy is rated PG-13.

 

…..and for Reading: ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’

They say the summer of 2012 is the summer of lust and who’s to disagree with films like “Magic Mike” playing in theaters and the “Fifty Shades Trilogy” available in print and as eBooks.

I first heard of “Fifty Shades of Grey” while driving to work one morning. My favorite local radio show couldn’t stop talking about the best seller and how all the women around the world dropped what they were doing and began reading. So, I went home that night and downloaded the book to my Nook. Two days later I was finished.

For those interested in reading the series’ first book “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by British author E.L. James, have an open mind. If you’re looking for another “Twilight” series then turn around and head back to the Young Adult section. If you choose to continue, be warned. You will either love it or hate it. The book delves into a world of BDSM (I’ll let you look that up) and how a young woman falls for a slightly messed-up-in-the-head and controlling wealthy man.

You don’t have to ascribe to BDSM to enjoy the descriptively written book, but it’s intense. You may wonder about those who conduct this lifestyle. The book begins with Anastasia “Ana” Steele, a college literature student, heading to Seattle to interview Christian Grey, a successful and wealthy entrepreneur. She takes the place of her roommate Katherine “Kate” Kavanagh who falls sick and is unable to do the interview, which she has planned for months. After stumbling (literally) into Grey’s office, Ana finds herself face to face with the handsome billionaire. Though intimidated, she is instantly attracted to him. After an awkward interview, Ana quickly leaves — glad to never see or speak to Christian again.

Much to her surprise, he shows up at the hardware store where she works. Ana informs Christian that Kate needs a photo for her article and manages to get his number. Later that evening, Ana sets up a photo shoot with her friend and photographer Jose Rodriquez (who has a crush on Ana) for the next day at Christian’s hotel. At the shoot, Christian asks Ana out for coffee. They meet up, and Ana is intrigued when she learns Christian isn’t the “boyfriend” type. He shows interest in her, but she believes she’s not his type and dismisses the idea of a relationship.

A few nights later Ana drunk-dials Christian, who then picks her up. He shows up as Jose attempts to push himself on Ana and whisks her away to his hotel. The next morning Christian tells Ana he would like a more intimate relationship but under circumstances that involve a contract.

Soon after the contract discussions, Ana opens up to Christian. The information immediately changes his game plan.

As for the contract, it is one of dominance and submission, the relationship Christian knows. The contract describes what he expects of Ana (i.e. sleep routine, eating habits, workouts and even personal hygiene) and that their relationship will be sexually and not romantically based. The contract also discusses what Ana believes as hard and soft limits. You will have to read the book if you want to know about the limits because they’re a little mature for this review.

As read, you’ll learn how Ana copes with her “inner goddess” and subconsciousness when dealing with her push-pull feelings for Christian. Plus, you’ll decide if you are on Team Ana or Team Christian. I’ve read the other two books “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed” and highly encourage everyone who reads the first book to continue with the next two. The second book delves deeper into Christian’s background, and you see how Ana eventually gets on top (no pun intended) of the relationship that she wants to build with Christian. The final book has a surprise at the end that will leave readers feeling like they just received a little treat from E.L. James.




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