Tuesday, August 7th, 2007
This past long weekend? It was a Matt Damon weekend. Or more accuraely, a Matt Damon sequel weekend. It just happened that both Ocean’s Thirteen and The Bourne Ultimatum – both films I wanted to see – were playing and so, with the rest of the world at Lollapalooza, I was at the movies.
We’ll start with Ocean’s. Like most, I found Ocean’s Twelve to be something of a disappointment. It was arguably as funny as the first but as a caper film, it was weak. Sure, watching attractive, well-dressed people pal around and generally have a good time goofing off one another is fun in its own right, but they managed to accomplish that AND assemble a pretty decent heist flick in the first one so anything less was a let down. Thankfully, director Steven Soderbergh seems to have realized this and gotten his game back together for the latest (and last?) installment.
Instead of a string of minor jobs told in flashback, Thirteen dives right into the thick of things with the gang taking on Al Pacino’s Willie Bank – a casino tycoon who screwed over Elliott Gould. The film plays up the ensemble cast more than I remember the first ones doing, with George Clooney not doing much besides playing business liason and looking dapper. In this one, everyone has a larger role – even the guys who you don’t know who they are. The plot barely manages to stay on the right side of absurd but is given a considerable amount of breathing room thanks to the fun and breezy performances from all involved… including Matt Damon.
As for The Bourne Ultimatum, following two top-notch action/espionage flicks like Identity and Supremacy it didn’t have anything to make up so much as to live up to. But with director Paul Greengrass, who helmed the second film, back on board there was no reason to think that the latest (and last?) film wouldn’t live up to the standards set by its predecessors – and boy, did it.
Think of any overused, hyperbolic pull-quote you’ve seen for an action film – for Ultimatum, they apply. It really was a both a white-knuckle rollercoaster ride and edge-of-the-seat thriller that, if I were to see only one film this year, it should have been this one. Okay, maybe not, but it really was an excellent action film that absolutely whizzed through two hours of intense fights, chases, espionage and exotic locales. A fitting cap to a terrific but still somehow underappreciated film franchise – I’m sorry there probably won’t be any more, but on the plus side there won’t be any more wondering if Julia Stiles is actually being directed to act like a zombie or if it just comes naturally.
Obviously, it was something of a quiet weekend with most of the world being at Lollapalooza while I sat around the apartment and contemplated renting The Legend Of Bagger Vance. Seeing all the hoo-hah coming out of Chicago did make me a little envious, but I did all that last year and my feet hurt far less this year, propped up on the coffee table as they were. But if I am going to experience the fest vicariously through anyone, I choose The AV Club.
Hey look, I started a Facebook group. Why? I… I don’t know.