Monday, July 26, 2004

The Bourne Supremacy: There is a moment in “The Bourne Identity” -- the current film’s predecessor – where amnesiac Jason Bourne, exhausted, is sleeping on a German park bench. He’s harassed by cops asking for his papers. To his surprise, he can speak German, and even more surprisingly, he disarms and takes them down in seconds.

That brilliantly entertaining first film is full of moments like that – as Bourne and the audience slowly learn his astonishing abilities. In “The Bourne Supremacy,” Bourne (Matt Damon), who has “settled” in Goa, India, with his girlfriend, Marie (Franke Potente) finds himself again hunted, for reasons unknown to him.

The film is laden with numerous exciting chase sequences, most by car, a couple on foot. “Lord of the Rings’” “Eomer,” Karl Urban, has an effective turn as the Russian assassin who sets the film’s plot in motion. What “Surpremacy” is missing is the emotional impact of “Identity.” It would reveal too much to even hint at this most important inital plot point, which happens early on. Suffice to say, that the first film blended thrilling action and powerful visceral characterization/emotional punch that this film lacks.

Director Peter Greengrass stresses more on the sense of anxiety Bourne is facing and depicts this through lightening fast editing cuts and manic hand-held camera work. “Identity” director Doug Liman was more adept at putting together the chase scenes – the ominous sense was always evident, but it was also shot and edited in a way that each sequence and scene was wholly understandable, from a logistic point of view. Here, the quick cutting resembles that of music videos, where an audience isn’t meant to understand specifics, but moreover the general sense of urgency and drama, only stopping for the end results.

It has all the elements of a taut thriller, but the menace is not coming at Bourne from several places – despite the gorgeous and frighteningly foreign locations “Supremacy” takes it (India, Berlin, Italy, Russia, NY) – as it did in the first film. Here Bourne has a mission and the “agency” has its own – all of which are apparent within the first few scenes of the film. Perhaps the simplest way of putting it is that while this “Bourne” has all of his inventive creativity (the most effective of elements), it is missing its heart, which beat so strongly in the first film.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy: Will Farrell is a brilliant comedian – his timing, his physical presence, all can easily evoke consistent laughs. He's also very likeable. “Anchorman,” set in the early seventies, is about the male-dominated world of local television news. This team, San Diego based, is led by the formidable Burgundy (Farrell), and is subsequently challenged by the arrival of Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate). While “Anchorman” doesn’t have the nearly non-stop guffaws that the similarly humored “Dodgeball” does, it’s still a funny film – thanks to Farrell. Farrell, like Chris Pontius and Steve O of “Jackass” and “Wild Boyz,” has no problem using his less-than-model proportions to induce laughs.

Like “Dodgeball” its wildly silly, with a rather broad premise – and “Anchorman” elicits its laughs through one-liners, perfect timing and physical humor.