Lord of War
Nicholas Cage plays the good-bad-guy as an arms dealer. And, um, that seems to be about it.
Ok, so maybe that’s underplaying it a little, but this is fundamentally a bio-pic of a guy that doesn’t really exist (except for the fact that he’s a little like this guy). Cage is working with a story that’s been cobbled together, and bits of this film certainly feel like that.
Ah sure morality tale yadayadayada, action sprinkled in as appropriate, but at no point does this movie get tense. It’s got a cynical message to deliver that can play into whoever’s hands it is so desired, given the right spin (“Gun running is evil” or “We should control the gun
running trade to ensure amatuers don’t cock it up for us.”, say). Deceptively complex (and not in a good way). ★★☆
The Bourne Ultimatum
Exactly unlike Lord of War, this movie doesn’t really ever let up. There’s hardly a moment to breathe easy or ponder implications as the action rushes from city to city, crossing Europe in a single bound before coming home to roost in New York.
Bourne is back, and this time, he’s really not happy. Ultimatum picks up exactly where Supremacy left off – Bourne is running from the Russian cops in Moscow, where Supremacy finished with a high-octane pursuit through the streets. The plot weaves its way back and forth between the action on the street (in various cities and continents) and the offices of the CIA in New York before culminating in New York, where it all comes to a head. Excellently driven, the script is minimalist and focused. Only tangentially related to the Robert Ludlum novels, but the times have moved on and it can be excused.
For a movie with this much of a budget, someone should’ve got a fricken steadycam. Yes, the handheld camera has its place, but for dialogue scenes, the bob of the hand is completely unnecessary and simply distracting. And while the characterisation is excellent for the most part, some are single-dimensional – Julia Stiles gets a bare handful of lines, half of which are on the phone in one scene; the “assets” don’t speak a word, making Bourne practically Shakespearean in comparison.
And what ever happened to the lost art of finishing a story off? It’s almost a mandatory requirement these days to leave some threads dangling for the next sequel. I dislike sequelism for the sake of sequelism, and this movie could have wrapped & tied the bow on Bourne. Greed got to the producers in the end, I believe.