JASON BOURNE. Bourne (Matt Damon), who spent most of the 14 years since we met him (The Bourne Identity, 2002) trying to reconstruct his pre-CIA past, has by now given himself over to semi-therapeutic, non-lethal violence. On the Greek-Albanian border, he dominates bare-knuckle boxing matches in refugee camps. Then he holes up in squalid hotels and stares into the middle distance; not exactly a guy at peace with himself.
To loop back around: Bourne is an identity created by a top-secret CIA program wherein volunteers are subjected to a deeply immersive training program from which they emerge as finely tuned operators (read: assassins). There have been four previous movies addressing the subject. One of those starred not Damon but Jeremy Renner, so some might consider it non-canonical. Two previous installments, like the newest one, were directed by Paul Greengrass (United 93, Captain Phillips) and were the high points of the series. Greengrass might be the best action director working today, so even if Jason Bourne is one of his secondary works, which it is, it still laps the field in terms of intelligence and intensity.
While Bourne sullenly knocks out roughneck refugees in the Mediterranean, longtime ally Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) makes moves in Iceland. She hacks the CIA, stealing classified documents pertaining to the legacy of Black Ops programs of which Bourne is a product. Her incursion draws the attention of brilliant analyst/careerist/opportunist Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander). She briefs Agency director Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) on the situation. He deploys The Asset (Vincent Cassel), a mildly-villainous operator with a Bourne beef, and soon they're all running all over the place killing. In the midst of this, Bourne rediscovers his need to learn about his former life. I almost forgot, what with all the killing.
Greengrass' work has always been identifiable by its mixture of punishingly realistic violence and equally punishing emotional authenticity. In Jason Bourne, that balance is maintained, but barely, as the movie occasionally leans too hard on plot and sometimes questionable philosophizing. But it also includes some impossibly elaborate car chases, so points all around. PG13. 123m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC. When a given weekend could justifiably leave one with the impression that art is dead, at least at the movie house, there are yet glimmers of hope. Perhaps all the more exciting for their increasing scarcity, these little rough-hewn products of imagination have occasionally been appearing unexpectedly next to the comic books, pointless cartoons and horror cash-ins. This creates a pleasant feeling of being transported not just by the story, but by the type of movie. Captain Fantastic feels like a movie of the '90s, suggesting possibility and hope for art with its unassuming narrative.
It was written and directed by Matt Ross, whom most will recognize as a character actor, a veteran of the business who has lately distinguished himself playing villains on HBO series (Alby Grant on Big Love, Gavin Belson on Silicon Valley). Turns out Ross is also a solid storyteller with a bit of cinematic visionary in him.
Ben (Viggo Mortenson) and Leslie (Trin Miller), in the ultimate expression of their distaste for contemporary capitalism, have moved deep off-grid. They purchased property in the middle of the woods in Washington state, vowing to raise their six children as philosopher kings, true human beings unsullied by mass media and consumerism. To a certain extent, the plan works beautifully: Their boys and girls are remarkably fit, multilingual, discursive on a vast array of subjects and able to kill their own food. But Leslie is deeply troubled, the kids are perhaps better prepared for the collapse of modern society than for any foray into it and Ben will be forced to question the validity of his own methods.
The story of Captain Fantastic is simple but vividly and articulately imagined. Mishandled, it would cast the Family Cash as kooky, arch or weird. Instead, they live onscreen as real people in an extreme circumstance, still filled with love and sadness and wonder. When circumstances compel the family to take a long road-trip into the wilds of suburban America, their green and living utopia recedes in the distance and their collective idealism is measured against the world at large. A plot summary would fail to do justice to the movie, and much of the satisfaction I drew from it was in the discovery of little details, scenes and elements that illuminated and enlivened Ross' characters and their singular world. So I will instead recommend Captain Fantastic stridently and insist that it be seen. R. 118m. BROADWAY.
BAD MOMS represents a different sort of insight into family life, one without quite as much poetry and hot blood in it as the above. It made me laugh, though, despite the occasional question about its ostensible feminist point of view.
Amy (Mila Kunis), mother of two, spends her day rocketing from home to school to part-time job at a ridiculously hip coffee company, back to school for games or recitals and eventually back home to mother her third child, the idiotic delayed-adolescent who married and impregnated her. One night, she meets up with a couple of other moms who don't toe the PTA line. She gets loaded with ferocious man-eater Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and mousy oddball Kiki (Kristen Bell) and they eventually decide to go to war with the power-moms.
Hahn and Bell work well together to steal most of their scenes, and the ultimate theme of the movie is one of appreciation and self-respect. However, the notion that we should be surprised by the fact that attractive women in their 30s have inner lives and like to party strikes a sour note. R. 101m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
— John J. Bennett
For showtimes, see the Journal's listings at www.northcoastjournal.com or call: Broadway Cinema 443-3456; Fortuna Theatre 725-2121; Mill Creek Cinema 839-3456; Richards' Goat Miniplex 630-5000.
HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE. A rebellious New Zealand boy and his foster uncle make a break for the bush when the authorities threaten to separate them. PG13. 123m. BROADWAY, MINIPLEX.
NINE LIVES. Kevin Spacey finally gives in and makes a movie about a busy dad trapped in the body of Mr. Fuzzypants, the family cat, until he can learn a valuable lesson about love and go back to gutting his enemies on House of Cards. PG. 87m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
SUICIDE SQUAD. DC villains Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and the Joker (Jared Leto) gang up with a few more baddies to do good (-ish). PG13. 123m. BROADWAY, MCKINLEYVILLE.
GHOSTBUSTERS. Heavy hitters Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy and Leslie Jones suit up for the re-boot, but without enough laughs in the script to balance the special effects and action. PG13. 117m. BROADWAY.
HILLARY'S AMERICA: THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. Fervent auteur Dinesh D'Souza comes at the party and its nominee with conspiracy theories, reenactments and unflattering lighting. PG13. 106m. BROADWAY
ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE. Ray Romano, Dennis Leary, John Leguizamo and Queen Latifah return with the herd, this time facing a meteor crash. PG. 94m. BROADWAY.
LIGHTS OUT. This tale of a family haunting fails to make the most of its shadow monster premise. Starring Maria Bello, Gabriel Bateman and Teresa Palmer. PG13. 81m. BROADWAY.
NERVE. Emma Roberts and James Franco play a couple of strangers caught up in an online game of escalating dares that turn dangerous. R. 98m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.
THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS. A family-friendly tale of rival dogs in New York City that doesn't really live up to its powerhouse cast, which includes Louis C.K., Jenny Slate and Kevin Hart. PG. 90m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
STAR TREK BEYOND. Frenzied and overstuffed, but the franchise sequel is good fun with solid characters, humor and satisfying surprises. Starring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto. PG13. 120m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.
— Jennifer Fumiko Cahill