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Jesse James and Jason Bourne

Brad Pitt wondering why the film and title are so long and boring

Thanks to movies.about.com for the pic. I just got back from watching both
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and The Bourne Ultimatum.

Let me begin with the new release. The Assassination of Jesse James was a movie I should have gone with my baser instincts with. When I heard about the film a few weeks ago, I had no inclination to see it, I thought the title alone was so absurd and told the entire story… well, the title didn’t tell the ENTIRE story, but what story was told outside of the title had nothing to do with the plot and felt like a waste in the end. It needs to be said that this movie tries to be a biopic unlike most biopics, in that it only deals with the final years of the subject’s life. Even with the truncation to the end of Jesse James’ life, the film still runs a noticeable 160 minutes, a good movie that happens to be over 2.5 hrs long is a pleasure to watch and is missed when it finally ends, the problem is that that is not THIS film, this is more of a meandering morass of a movie.

The film begins by quickly (the only thing this film does quickly) introduces us to Jesse James’ new rag tag gang for his last heist at a time when most of his brothers were either dead or in jail. It is here where we meet Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell, as well as the rest of the new incarnation of the James gang. The film also features Sam Shepard and Mary-Louise Parker.

Let me start with what I did like about this film, since it will be short. There were some wonderful character performances, Casey Affleck steals almost every scene he’s in (by playing this character who just has something off putting about him), even from Rockwell, who also gives a strong and layered performance (especially towards the film’s end). The way Garret Dillahunt just encompasses a slow witted, yet wise bandit just floored me. Lastly, Paul Schneider gets some of the best lines as the silver tongued bandit, he provided some of the only smiles and laughs of the entire film.

Now for the problems. I don’t think I can say this enough, the film is TOO LONG. The director, Andrew Dominik, chose to make this film very deliberate, letting scenes go on and on, with gaping pauses and long interstitials to show the passage of time and too many scenes that had nothing to do with the main story arc. All the while, Brad Pitt gives a terrible performance, fidgeting his way through Jesse James, after seeing Russell Crowe as Ben Wade (pretty much a Jesse James type character in the prime of his career), this performance by Pitt was noticeably lacking.

The film basically had me bored thoroughly enough that I contemplated leaving, if it wasn’t for some of those character driven scenes by the supporting cast, I might have done just that. Lastly though, the only real positive about this film is that it shows just how good an actor Casey Affleck is, he seems to have completely overtaken his older brother Ben now in acting ability, after seeing him in Good Will Hunting and really taking notice of him in Ocean’s Eleven, I have been hoping to see him mature this way.

Now to a much more fun review (thanks to indie cinematical for the pic), albeit an extremely late review, considering the film was released at the end of July!

The Bourne Ultimatum is the third installment of the series and it is actually more like most trilogies’ opening movie, in that this feels like the origins tale unfolding and oddly enough, the more films that come out in this franchise, the more I am interested in the entire series. I remember watching the Bourne Identity when it first came to DVD and I didn’t really enjoy it and because of that, I waited until only a few months ago to see the second installment, but this time I enjoyed it enough to revisit the original and this time, I appreciated it a lot more.

The action, like the other two movies before it, is filled with fast paced and intense hand to hand fight scenes and quick thinking problem solving by our one -man, calculating, wrecking ball, Jason Bourne. At times, the film flashes back to scenes from the previous films, but this movie feels like it can be taken in quite well for people being initially introduced to Jason‘s life.

This film was refreshing and fun (a great combination after what I went through with the other film I saw tonight). I also enjoyed when the film brought some of its action up into the heart of the neighborhood in Manhattan I live in, here on the Upper East side. I remember a few months back, when all the film crews and movie trailers were camped out up here and on one of the days after I got out from work and was walking to my friend’s house, I walked up 2nd avenue in the mid 70’s and passed by Matt Damon on the street as he was in between shots, taking pictures with some very sexy female fans, it was at that point that I realized all the trucks were for the latest Bourne movie shoots, based on his hair and makeup. Seeing Doc Watsons on screen was a very entertaining payoff to all that.

The performances, even though some see it as JUST an action movie, were fun to watch. Joan Allen reprises her CIA role from the previous film and Julia Stiles comes back for the second time, but this time, she seems to play her part in a similar fashion to how Franka Potente played against Matt Damon, especially from the first film, which made the character a bit more interesting to watch, especially after her scene in the bathroom. Not to mention the strong performances by David Strathairn and even by Albert Finney who sort of swoops in at the end with a memorable role.

I would definitely recommend you catch this film, I feel its the best Bourne film thus far, a very unusual feat for a movie that is the third installment of a series. If you haven’t already seen it, see it while it is still in theaters. It was very entertaining.

I also realized that the combination of the two movies was almost like a Silence of the Lambs reunion, with Ted Levine getting a bit part in Jesse James and Scott Glenn getting only a slightly larger part in Bourne.



October 7, 2007 6:17 am - Posted by | dvd, movie reviews, movies, New York, NYC


  1. […] master1228 wrote an interesting post today on Jesse James and Jason BourneHere’s a quick excerptEven with the truncation to the end of Jesse James’ life, the film still runs a noticeable 160 minutes, a good movie that happens to be over 2.5 hrs long is a pleasure to watch and is missed when it finally ends, the problem is that … […]

    Pingback by Movie Reviews » Blog Archive » Jesse James and Jason Bourne | October 14, 2007 12:39 am

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  5. Did you just call the Bourne Ultimatum “refreshing.” It does the worst thing a movie can do and that is to rip off the movies before it. Far worse is that it started the trendy spy genre and took it no where farther that the Saw series in Horror… a paycheck. Nothing new or daring just the same untalented cinematographer following Damon retard his way around the world. It’s not a bad movie per say but it has the EXACT same plot as the first two… CIA thinks Bourne is bad, Bourne can’t remember, and the audience thrown into the roller coaster. It’s kind of played out.

    On ther other hand I would be hard pressed to find anything comparable to Jesse James. For better or worse this is reason enough to the movie. I was awed by Pitt’s performance and Deakins managed to get some truly beautiful shots. The music is eerie and deft. Deakins also shot the Coen’s No country for Old Men and In the Valley of Elah last year. I feel you must’ve fallen asleep during Jesse James (A very likely possibilty as it is probably one of the slowest movies outside of Gosford Park) but there is now way someone should see the THIRD BOURNE MOVIE NOT EVEN BASED ON THE THIRD BOURNE BOOK and miss Pitt who has still mysteriously never won an oscar with a resume that includes Seven, Fight Club, Snatch, 12 Monkeys, Ocean’s Eleven, Spy Game and Sleepers, and his only nomination came in supporting actor for 12 Monkeys, that year he faced the unbeatable Kevin Spacey for Usual Suspects. Conspiracy I say. No hard feelings, keep up the hard work.

    Comment by Jordan Diaz | May 8, 2008 12:24 am

  6. I loved the energy and passion you put into that response to my reviews. I did not actually fall asleep during Jesse James, I just flat out didn’t enjoy it, while I thoroughly enjoyed watching the origin of Jason Bourne unravel itself finally.

    Comment by master1228 | May 8, 2008 1:08 am

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