Mini Weekend Roundup Reviews: Rob Roy & Bourne Legacy

It’s a bit later than usual but I still want to let you know about my weekend movie-watching roundup. Usually I worked on the post on Monday night, but last Monday night I was invited to dinner with friends my hubby and I haven’t seen in over five years. It was wonderful and we had such a great time chatting over delicious Indonesian food (my friend owns a catering business), plus I went home with three DVDs on loan: Lawrence of Arabia, The Man Who Would Be King & Hitchcock’s Lifeboat.

Can’t wait to see all of ’em, especially the first one!

Now, we managed to only see two movies this past weekend. We had set out to see Bourne Ultimatum (we have the Blu-ray set) on Sunday night as my hubby and I were quite disappointed with Bourne Legacy, but we couldn’t help watching the closing ceremony. I think the highlights for me were the We Will Rock You segment, Spice Girls [yeah, they’re back and they owned it!!] … AND David Gandy!!! I don’t usually go for models, but that man is BEAUTIFUL ♥ ♥ ♥

All right, now on to the reviews:

ROB ROY

Thanks to my generous friend Michael of It Rains… You Get Wet who kindly lent me the Blu-ray of this film. I had been interested in seeing this movie because of his excellent two-part analysis of this epic swashbuckling drama.

My love for all things Scottish is quite well-known around this blog, but that’s not the only reason I love this film. For one thing, it was beautifully-filmed. The Highlands looks majestic and as soon as the characters appear, the story just pulls me right in.

Liam Neeson is a charismatic lead, who despite being Irish is perfectly cast as one of those valiant men who’s loved and revered by the towns people and his family. I wish he’d still be doing dramatic roles like this one to balance all the bad ass action hero stuff he’s doing these days. In a way though, Rob Roy MacGregor IS an action hero of sort, he was regarded as the Scottish Robin Hood. In this film, Rob Roy was framed for stealing £1,000 from an English Duke, the Marquis of Montrose (John Hurt), and forced to become an outlaw when he refuse to slander the Duke’s Scottish rival.

I was quite engrossed with the story and MacGregor’s journey. Despite the 139 min running time, I wasn’t bored watching it. Neeson effortlessly carried the film but Tim Roth perfectly captured the vile nature of the Duke’s henchman Archibald Cunningham in this Oscar-nominated performance. He’s just so evil through and through, every little thing he did just makes your skin crawl. Their battle becomes personal for MacGregor when Cunningham sexually assaulted his beloved wife Mary [I suggest you read Michael’s fascinating analysis on on this topic], which led to the climactic sword-fight that makes you get up and cheer!

The rest of the performances are excellent as well, Brian Cox rarely disappoints and he was memorable here too, as was Jessica Lange as the devoted wife. I like the depiction of a healthy marriage here, and I also love that Mary is no damsel in distress even despite the harsh circumstances.

I highly recommend this if you’re into historical dramas or an inspiring, heroic story that doesn’t involve a cape or spandex 🙂

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Bourne Legacy

My friend Ted already posted his excellent review on this, which I wholeheartedly agree with, but I still want to add my two cents on this. Well, some of you perhaps already know that I’m just not a big fan of Jeremy Renner. I didn’t even think he’s that great in The Hurt Locker [yeah, so sue me!] But that aside, I LOVE the Bourne universe, so despite my initial gripe about him replacing Matt Damon, I’m naturally curious about this movie. Plus spy action thriller is right up my alley.

I went in with an open mind that perhaps this film might change my mind about Renner, after all I wasn’t a big fan of Damon before Bourne Identity. Alas, it did not happen, in fact, even in the whole opening sequence in the Alaska wilderness, I was more taken by Oscar Isaac [now I’d like to see more of him in Hollywood!]. Bourne Legacy does not change my mind about Renner, but the problem lies more in the writing. I mean, Aaron Cross is just not as compelling a character as Bourne, simply because of his motivation that Ted has pointed out in his review. Bourne’s memory loss drives him to find out just why he is the way he is and does what he does, that alone is a compelling journey for us to stick around for. Cross on the other hand, knows full well who he is, a ‘chems’ addict super soldier who wants to stay that way. So basically he is terrified to go back to be a ‘regular joe’ once he knows the power of those pills, and truth be told, he probably can’t survive independently in society either.

In his journey, Cross is assisted by the beautiful chemist, Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) who survives a murder-suicide by his colleague. Cross is doubtful about her naiveté in that she has no clue what the pills are used for, and so did I. Despite the long talks between the two of them that seem to go on forever, her character still isn’t explored really well. There’s also the issue of figuring out just who the enemy is. Technically, it’s Ed Norton’s Eric Byer, who’s hired by the top officials of Operation Blackbriar or the Treadstone Project to get rid of all trace of their Black Ops operation that Bourne has systematically exposed in the previous film, hence the ‘legacy’ in the title.

To say that Cross sort of operates under the ‘shadow’ of Bourne is an understatement. Seems like even the filmmakers don’t want us to forget about the original hero because every few minutes, Damon’s photo ID is flashed on screen and you know what, it actually makes me miss him even more!! Like in Total Recall, there’s all this déjà vu-ish feeling that I have seen this all before but done much, much better. Even the action was just so-so, the shootout at Martha’s house is perhaps the only highlight. The motorcycle chase in Manila is exhilarating, thought that whole bit about Larx-03, the ultimate super soldier that even Byer boss thought was only a prototype makes me laugh. It reminds me of T-1000 in Terminator 2 how he just got up after being shot multiple times and crashes his motorcycle!! It was a fun sequence but that point I didn’t really care much about Cross anymore so it didn’t have that much of an impact.

My biggest beef with this whole movie though, is how extremely misleading the marketing is. In the trailer and even the posters list Joan Allen and David Strathairn’s names but both only appeared for less than 2 minutes!! I mean, that’s barely a cameo!! The supporting cast was one of the main draw for me to see this, so that was VERY disappointing!

All in all, Tony Gilroy’s direction confirms my dread that the film is a downgrade from the stellar Bourne trilogy. A lot can be said about that anti-climactic ending, but ‘gripping’ isn’t one of them. In fact, the only best thing about it is the awesome Extreme Ways soundtrack by Moby, but it also makes you long for the predecessor.

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Thoughts on either one of these? Let it be known in the comments.