Bourne back on course

The Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne Ultimatum, the sequel to The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy, is to start filming in August, according to an interview on the iF website with producer Frank Marshall:

Filming starts August 1st shooting in Europe. Paul Greengrass is the director. Matt Damon is in it. He loves the script. Tony Gilroy wrote the script and we’re off and running. Paul is doing a movie called FLIGHT 93 right now, so Pat Riley and I are going over to England next month to start pre-production. [Tony Gilroy] made up an incredible story. It’s really, really out there. Joan Allen and Julia Stiles characters [are back] and then some fresh new characters. And a couple of baddies

Despite bearing the title of the third book in Robert Ludlum’s Bourne trilogy (unbelievably, there’s a fourth book, The Bourne Legacy, written by Eric Van Lustbader of all people), it’s unlikely to have many similarities. By the third book, Bourne aka David Webb is married to Marie (a Canadian economist), has two kids, is a university lecturer, is best pals with Conklin and finds he’s under attack from his arch-enemy and noted terrorist, Carlos the Jackal. Doesn’t really gel with the last movie, does it? It’s also not very good, and is more of a long curse at old age by Robert Ludlum, disgusted to find his mind was slowing down, 20 years or so after he wrote The Bourne Identity. An original movie wouldn’t have to work too hard to be better.

The return to the series of both Tony Gilroy, writer of the previous two films, and Paul Greengrass, director of The Bourne Supremacy, isn’t so welcome though. Supremacy is a good film if you’re watching on a widescreen television at home. It’s impossible to watch at the cinema without getting motion sickness, thanks to Greengrass’s trademark use of handheld, jerky shots at all times: would it have hurt him to lock off the camera just once in a while? I would have preferred Doug Liman, director of Identity, who at least knows how to shoot a fight scene.

And while Gilroy appears to turn in clever scripts, if you look at earlier drafts of both Identity and Supremacy, you see that most of the clever bits were added in later by the directors and script doctors. Thankfully, Marie being run over by a bus and Bourne spending a lengthy time in an Indian prison never made it to the big screen version of Supremacy.

Nevertheless, I’m hoping that Greengrass can temper some of Gilroy’s more lame-brained ideas, and that feedback from critics and audiences alike will convince him to cut back on the shaky-cam. I’m fed up with the increasingly stupid Hollywood blockbusters we get each year, and fancy another decent, clever spy thriller that doesn’t massively insult my intelligence. At the moment, there’s precious few of those and The Bourne Ultimatum might just increase the count by one.

PS Anyone know how to view the “alternative Russian ending” to The Bourne Supremacy on the region 2 version? I know it’s there on the region 1 disk, but it’s not in the same place on the Euro version.


Avril Lavigne wants to appear in perfume ads

Cue make-over scenes from Clueless: Avril Lavigne wants to be a supermodel. The former Christian folk singer turned manufactured biker-rock star, who said that mothers liked her because she didn’t dress like Britney, now wants to sell out and become a model. Quelle surprise. If you change your image once in order to achieve popularity and your popularity starts to wane, isn’t it the most natural thing in the world to change your image again, even if it runs contrary to everything you used to espouse? Still, maybe if her last album hadn’t sucked, things would be different.


Noel Edmonds returns to Saturday nights

Noel Edmonds in "Deal or No Deal"

We’re re-entering the 70s. First Doctor Who becomes a Saturday night regular again. Now Noel “Late, Late Breakfast Show” Edmonds is returning to prime-time weekend viewing with Deal or No Deal. Based on the Australian game show of the same name, It’s been doing well in the afternoons apparently.

Howie Mandel

I’m surprised it took this long to become a hit though. It’s already being hailed in the US as the next Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, despite being hosted by Howie “St Elsewhere” Mandel who appears a bit more like Master Po from Kung Fu than he used to.

But Noel on a Saturday night. Can we take it?

UPDATE: Charlie Brooker sums up the show, in case you’ve never seen it.


BBC4 controller wants longer hours

Good news, fans of Nigerian crochet and Swedish Renaissance painting: BBC4 wants to broadcast for longer each day!

I jest. BBC4 has been getting much better of late. But although the ratio between the absolute crackers and the mind-numbers may be at an all-time high, it’s still got some way to go before it achieves the same quality ratio as More4, which is still the holder of the crown for “ best channel for thinking people who don’t have a degree in Pretension, minoring in tribal art”.

More4 does have a slight advantage though. It just imports all its good stuff, while BBC4 rolls its own. More4’s home-produced output, such as The Last Word, would very much rate as “cruel and unusual punishments” if shown to US prison inmates, so it shouldn’t sit on its laurels.

So let’s give a possible BBC4 expansion into longer hours a cautious welcome and hope we don’t have to face too many programmes hosted by Tyler Brûlé or (and I kid you not) documentaries about Django Reinhardt, the Belgian-born, two-fingered Gypsy jazz guitar legend.

Jazz. Ugh.


24 – Season Five: The Jack Bauer power hour is back full force

Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer in 24

The fifth season of 24 (aka ‘Day 5’) has been airing in the US for a couple of weeks now, so it’s time for a review. Don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers.

After a stupendous four-hour premiere spread over two days, we’re into the standard weekly drip-drip-drip of hours and the initial ratings grabbing gimmicks have been dispensed with for now. We’re into serious plotting and this year’s season can reveal its true colours.

So far, I’m pleasantly impressed. Compared with season four, season five is a model of restraint. Fox News plugs have been kept to a minimum. The first fifteen minutes of the show was packed full of surprises that would have shocked many long-term fans of the show in a “I can’t believe they just did that” kind of way – and not just because Chloe gets a boyfriend. And in the whole of the first four hours, there was no torture, no decapitation, no anything that could remotely be construed as excessive in a show like this. Indeed, Jack “softy” Bauer, as he should now be called, even promises to get a suspect medical aid rather than shoot him in the leg until he confesses everything. It’s a world gone mad, I tell you.

24 alternates its terrorists between years. Odd years we get European terrorists, even years we get Muslims, so we’re faced with Russians at the moment. Or are they Chechnyens? Or are they Canadians, given that Geraint Wyn Davies of Airwolf (Canadian fourth season only) and Forever Knight ‘fame’ is chief baddie?

Whoever they are, they’re not as threatening as Muslims. Last year’s über-terrorists had the best planning ever, with a back-up scheme even more impressive than the previous scheme ready to go at a moment’s notice: kidnap the Secretary of Defense. Damn. He’s rescued. Okay, we’ll blow up all the nuclear power stations in the US. Oh they’ve stopped us. Okay, let’s steal a stealth fighter and shoot down Airforce One. Ooh not quite. How about we steal a nuclear missile and blow up Los Angeles? Curses. Und so weiter… I’m sure Osama would be happy with just one of those, so to pull them all off in 24 hours is pretty impressive.

This year, we’re on a slow burn. These terrorists really don’t have the drive of your fundamentalist, apparently, and they like to pace themselves. That’s the trouble with us Europeans: no sense of work ethic. But it’s all going reasonably well and they’re being modestly quiet about it all. My hat’s off to them. Let’s hear your demands, Mr Wyn Davies, and we’ll consider them over a leisurely cappuccino.

Despite this slowish start by the terrorists, which is still packed with 10 pounds worth of C4 surprises (you can tell I’ve just finished watching an episode, can’t you?), we’re in recognisable 24 territory: lots of cyber-talk for the techies, a demonic mole in CTU for Patriot-Act supporters, lots of kung fu-ing and weaponry for the martially-minded, and a little bit of soap (and a fruit-flavoured beverage) for the ladies as various men and women pine for each other while routing IP phones and discussing protocol filters. For Hobbit-lovers, there’s also Sean Astin.

If you can put aside your brain for an hour, 24 still gets your adrenal glands pumping like nobody’s business. Season five has kept to the traditional 24 formula, refined it and made it better. I’m still waiting for the real kicker of a plot thread that every season has, but I can be patient. The bad guys might not be so evil yet, but the show’s the better for it since it becomes ever so slightly more believable.

I’ll leave you with one last thought: if you don’t have a Keifer Sutherland poster above your bed by the end of the series, no matter what your age, gender or sexual orientation, I’ll be very, very surprised. That man is just the coolest.