One good, one terrible

The Bourne Legacy & The Watch

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

            The Bourne Legacy exacts a price: fear. Whenever we settle into a quiet, cerebral scene, the soundtrack explodes through the surround sound speakers with an unearthly, earsplitting noise that induces a nearly terminal terror. But be of good cheer. As principals of an intelligence operation gone wrong, Jeremy Renner (as Aaron) and Edward Norton (as Col. Byer) lift the movie as they always do. Both inject a purposeful calm into the explosive craziness. The only way to watch this movie is to reign in your desire to understand it. Just sit still and watch.
            Stranded on an Alaskan mountain range, Aaron (Renner) is a spy being brought in from the actual and metaphorical cold – or is he? He is also a composed, world class innovator against enemies. These include drones and implants (they are connected) as well as viruses, wolves, and humans. You will wonder why everyone is taking pills and you will enjoy visiting New York, London, Washington, Karachi, Alaska, Seoul, and Manilla.
            Dr. Marta Shearing Ph.D (Rachel Weisz) comes on board as a natural partner for our hero. Together they are great action buddies, a situation that leads quite nicely toward chemistry and respect. When someone says “Viral him out,” or “We have eight minutes to clear out of here,” and you wish desperately that you knew why, just sit still, relax and enjoy the extreme pleasure offered up by the three leads who are, as my grandchildren might say, absolutely awesome.
            The Watch wins a gold for the worst movie I've seen in fifteen years. In 1997 I wrote of Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag: "Can you imagine building a comedy on eight severed heads singing in harmony?" It moves down a notch to silver.
            This is the kind of humor that sprouts in eleven year old boys as they try to hide their embarrassment at their changing bodies. Some of these boys, after they are physically grown but still mentally inert, drift to Hollywood carrying the humor that was born in their younger selves.
            Mining that trove, the filmmakers plunge into the now ubiquitous comedic rubble of orgies, girls, beer, body parts, and bodily functions. The surprise is that the actors are not eleven year old boys. They are Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade who should have known better. They are supported by a cast of 86 actors who are listed in the credits as Orgy Man #1, 2, 3, Orgy Woman #1,2,3, Casual Wankers, Smart Ass Kid, Older Orgy Dude, Dominatrix.
            The plot? Sorry, I forgot. The night watchman of a Costco store is murdered and skinned by space aliens who want to destroy earth from the basement. Why Costco? “Because they have everything we need,” is the alien response. Yes? You’ll go? Take the kids who will understand the references to bodily functions and fluids and the details of human skinnings. Maybe 8 Heads wasn’t so bad after all.


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