It would seem that 2012 is the new 2002. First we had another version of the Spider-Man origin story (which, granted, was actually pretty good), and now this week we get a new Bourne film (sort of) and the 10th anniversaty re-release of Charly, that most beloved of Latter-Day Saint love stories (now with never-before-seen scenes!). How do they stack up? Let's take a look. As always you can "like" my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter to get updates when new reviews are posted. Your spreading the word about this site is also much appreciated.
THE BOURNE LEGACY (GRADE: C)
Not so much a bad movie as it is an unnecessary and unoriginal one, The Bourne Legacy is to the magnificent original trilogy what microwaved leftovers are to a home-cooked meal: the ingredients are still there, but it's not nearly as enjoyable as it was when it was fresh. It's a real shame, too, because the first hour of the film is very promising, expanding the Bourne universe and giving us a story that occurs parallel to last film's events. Pulling back the curtain to see who was really pulling the strings behind the last trilogy while giving us a compelling new hero and some intense action scenes, it seems for a time that Legacy is going to firmly establish itself as its own animal, related to the other films but not overly reliant on them.
Sadly, it drifts into routine from there, with story beats and character interactions that are all too familiar, giving audiences only what they've seen before, but done far better the first time around. This film plays mostly like a knockoff of The Bourne Identity, with a heart-of-gold assassin on the run with an innocent woman while corrupt officials send another assassin to take them out. The only difference is that writer/director Tony Gilroy substitutes memory loss (which made Damon's character vulnerable and gave the series a compelling sense of mystery) with the gimmick of biochemically-enhanced assassins (think a more "realistic" version of Captain America's super-soldier program). Too bad The Bourne Legacy plays it safe, because there's some terrific moments, both in terms of acting and action. The cast is stellar: Edward Norton is always excellent, Rachel Weisz is a fine actress, and Jeremy Renner (The Avengers; Mission Impossible- Ghost Protocol) has the charm, intensity, humanity, and physicality to be a Grade-A action star. They all deserve better than Matt Damon's sloppy seconds.
CONTENT OVERVIEW: The Bourne Legacy is rated PG-13. Like the previous films, it contains plentiful action violence and some language (no f-words that I could hear, however). The hero may or may not break a man's neck in a fight scene (it's unclear). A workplace shooting scene is prolonged, realistic, and terrifying; it's especially chilling in light of the recent shootings in Aurora, Colorado. There is no nudity or sexuality. Reliance on medications is a recurring plot point.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: There are corrupt people in high places who must be challenged (Ephesians 6:12; Helaman 6:37-38). While some medications are helpful and even necessary, unhealthy dependence can compromise our agency (Elder M. Russell Ballard- "O That Cunning Plan of the Evil One").
CHARLY: 10th ANNIVERSARY RE-RELEASE (GRADE: B)
Like George Lucas' Star Wars special editions, the makers of Charly have both added to and taken away from their classic film, with mixed results. An opening monologue now takes place over a poorly photo-shopped sequence instead of the simpler and more effective close up of actor Jeremy Hoop's face while he speaks. A new dating montage is nice in and of itself, but it's placed too early in the story. Charly and Sam are seen doing lots of fun things across various seasons, laughing and playing, then we return to the original footage finding them in a fishing boat, with Sam as up-tight as he was in the beginning while Charly accuses him of not knowing how to have fun. Their relationship not having progressed as far as it would seem from the montage. Placing it later in their dating life (or right after their marriage) would have made much more sense.
Likewise, a scene in which Charly discovers her faith while examining paintings of the Savior, while quite touching, seems out of place because the actress playing her, Heather Beers, has clearly aged. This is not meant as an insult; Beers is as lovely as she ever was, but no one looks the same as they did a decade ago (I certainly don't). Whereas she used to look like a beautiful girl, now she looks like a beautiful woman, and because the scene was clearly shot much later the moment distracts from the story instead of enhancing it.
Those gripes aside, everything audiences love about this story and these characters is intact. It can be melodramatic and "cheesy," but when all is said and done Beers and Jeremy Hoop have wonderful chemistry and Charly remains a compelling firecracker of a character. The humor mostly hits the mark and the film is undeniably effective as a tearjerker and as a testimony of both eternal marriage and the peace found through Jesus Christ. Fans should head out to see it, as proceeds go to a good cause.
(Note: readers may be interested in my interviews with star Heather Beers and producer Lance Williams, found here).
CONTENT OVERVIEW: Charly is rated PG. There are some very mild comedic innuendos and frank discussions about chastity.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: Though all die, through Christ all will live again (1 Corinthians 15:22). Marriage was meant to be eternal (1 Corinthians 11:11; Gospel Principles, Chapter 38). The Lord is merciful to those who sin in ignorance, so we ought to be as well (Mosiah 3:11).