This week at the movies, we’ve got a man on the run (The Bourne Legacy, starring Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz), a pair of congressional hopefuls (The Campaign, starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis), and spouses in a rut (Hope Springs, starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones). What do the critics have to say?
With Matt Damon in the title role, the Bourne franchise was a commercial and critical juggernaut. Now, Jeremy Renner tries to give the series a reboot, and while critics say The Bourne Legacy is a bit overlong and more disjointed than previous installments, it’s still a capable chase thriller with strong action scenes. Renner stars as Aaron Cross, who, like Jason Bourne, is a chemically-enhanced super-soldier. He soon discovers that the secret government agency that gave him his powers is trying to kill him, so he goes on the run with research scientist Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), who’s also a target of the same shadowy forces. The pundits say The Bourne Legacy isn’t as consistently exciting as the Damon Bournes, but it’s a solid enough conspiracy movie, and Renner and Weisz are excellent. (Check out this week’s 24 Frames, a slideshow of some of cinema’s greatest spies.)
How amusing can a satire of politics really be these days, given the farcical nature of modern elections? Plenty, say critics, who call The Campaign a droll, biting, and often insightful look at the electoral process — though some of the jokes are pretty crude. Will Ferrell stars as Cam Brady, an incumbent congressman who’s running unopposed for re-election until he finds himself embroiled in a scandal. A pair of big-money bigwigs push inexperienced, mild-mannered Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) into the race, and things get nasty in a hurry. The pundits say The Campaign intermittently flails, but for the most part, it’s goofy, timely, and, more often than not, astutely funny.
Hollywood rarely shines its spotlight on the love lives of older folks, so a film like Hope Springs immediately stands out from the summer movie pack. Still, critics say it’s worth seeing for the virtuosic interplay between Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, even if the script occasionally betrays a heavy hand. Streep and Jones star as Kay and Arnold, whose marriage lost its spark a long time ago. In an attempt to shake things up, Kay enrolls the couple in an intense counseling session with a famous therapist, and she and Arnold take tentative steps toward rekindling their relationship. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Hope Springs is sometimes manipulative, but the leads are utterly absorbing and the situation is refreshingly true-to-life. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Jones’ best-reviewed movies.)
Almayer’s Folly, Chantal Akerman/‘s adaptation of the Joseph Conrad novel about an embittered ship captain at a remote trading post, is at 100 percent.
Meet the Fokkens, a documentary about 60-something identical twins who work as prostitutes in Amsterdam’s red light district, is at 100 percent.
The Green Wave, a documentary/animation hybrid about the anti-government protests that rocked Iran in 2009, is at 88 percent.
2 Days in New York, starring Julie Delpy and Chris Rock in a comedy about a couple who are rudely interrupted by the woman’s wild family members, is at 71 percent.
Spike Lee‘s Red Hook Summer, a drama about a middle class kid who spends a summer with his religious grandfather in his inner-city Atlanta home, is at 68 percent.
$upercapitalist, a drama about a hedge fund trader whose life spins out of control after attempting a hostile takeover of a Hong Kong tech company, is at 17 percent.
Nitro Circus: The Movie 3D, a doc starring a fearless crew of stuntmen doing outrageous aerial tricks, is at 13 percent.
Goats, starring David Duchovny and Vera Farmiga in a coming-of-age dramedy about a teenager attempting to understand his eccentric family members, is at 13 percent.