Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

08 August 2007

Ooo Corruption!

I've been in a let's-watch-some-people-blow-some-shit-up kind of mood. The B-movie love started with Sunshine, which, as I believe I've already mentioned, is awesome.

And then, of course, the third movie in the Jason Bourne franchise was just released. Now, as you might recall, I really liked the second movie, The Bourne Supremacy, and though I still cannot figure out what the fuck the titles in this series of movies mean, I also really liked The Bourne Ultimatum. Matt Damon is totally serious and very cool, and Paul Greengrass sure knows how to make an action picture. (You might also recall that I rated his United 93 as my #2 movie from last year.) Ultimatum delivers on all the promises of Supremacy. The fights are awesome, especially an extended hand-to-hand battle with Joey Ansah that happens late in the movie. The Bourne Ultimatum also boasts about a hundred cameos of well-known actors (the first two movies did this too). Daniel Brühl shows up for a single scene (in the first good movie he's been in since Good Bye, Lenin!) and Paddy Considine gets a couple of cool scenes. The best thing about Ultimatum, though, is that it never really lets up. The movie starts in medias res and just keeps going at the rapid pace it sets at the beginning. It's a thrill-a-minute film with a great car chase, some awesome fight sequences and beautiful locations. Definitely worth checking out.

Also, the villain in this movie is, as seems to be common in action movies nowadays, the United States Government. Filmmakers find it very easy to cast our government as the source of evil and criminality. This obviously has to do with the American people's mounting distrust of the president, the Congress and all top levels of government. I mention it because another film I recently saw, Antoine Fuqua's Shooter has a similar theme. Now, I haven't seen a Fuqua movie since Training Day, but it seems like the man has still got a lot of talent. Shooter is a strictly straightforward tale of good guys/bad guys, guns, bombs, explosions, torture, revenge, etc. But it does what it promises well enough. The good guys are likable (you know I love Mark Wahlberg, and I don't know anyone who doesn't love Michael Peña) and the villains all wear suits and make decisions from ivory Washington D.C. towers. The hero of Shooter doesn't quite have the amazing survival skills of Jason Bourne, but he comes kind of close. He makes homemade pipe bombs and tear gas from stuff he got at WalMart and he is able to perform minor surgery on himself after getting shot in the arm and in the side. True to Antoine Fuqua form, of course, there are lots and lots of dead bodies. I should have counted how many, but I probably would have lost track. It's a little out of control.

One exceptionally cool thing about Shooter is a scene with Ned Beatty on top of a mountain. It's an obvious nod to my favorite film of all time—Network—a clever update to Ned Beatty's very famous monologue in that film, where he says "There are no nations; there are no peoples. There are no Russians.There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West." In Shooter Ned says "There are no Shiites; there are no Sunnis. There are no Republicans; there are no Democrats." Kudos to whatever genius thought that a nice echo of Paddy Chayefsky's cynicism fit nicely in a 2007 action movie with Mark Wahlberg. It put a giant grin on my face.