Bourne 4: The Roger Moore Era Begins   Leave a comment

“That is a rare photo of Sean Connery signed by Roger Moore.” – Comic Book Guy

Top Line: Bourne 4 is, quite literally, retarded.  It is very slow to start (the first real gun & fist fight doesn’t happen until halfway through the movie), but it finishes strong.  If they want to make a Bourne 5 with Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, and Edward Norton, I’m cool with that. 

Who (probably) should see this movie: People who liked the first three Bourne movies.

Who (probably) should not see this movie: People who didn’t like or didn’t see the first three Bourne movies.

Box Score:

Runtime: 2h:15m – The beginning feels longer than it is. 
Rated: PG-13 – Standard bloodless violence.  Renner gets briefly shirtless a couple of times (as does Robert Christopher Riley), but Weisz keeps her clothes on to such an extent that there was more raunch on screen in the trailer for this year’s Judd Apatow movie. 
Three Stars:

  1. Jeremy Renner – The New Bourne:
    Is asked to carry the movie and carries it.  Is likeable despite being a guy who keeps killing innocent guards and police officers.
  2. Edward Norton – Main Bad Guy:
    Plays the heartless “patriot” well, and even manages to make him seem effective despite a couple of glaring plot holes.  Now that’s acting!
  3. Rachel Weisz – Token Female Scientist:
    Manages a less than sympathetic and unethical scientist well.
Need to See In Theater (Baseline: 2):

  • +1 (it’s better than Total Recall 2)
  • +1 (not much summer left to get out of the house)
  • +3 (if you’re a Bourne fan.  They actually had midnight shows of this.)
  • -1 (it’s still a fourth sequel, there’s no rush)

Final Score: 3 if you’re not a big Bourne fan, 6 if you are. 

Need to See Eventually (Baseline: 5):

  • +2 (the Manila chase scene at the end is pretty cool)
  • +1 (the science isn’t grade school level gibberish like Prometheus)
  • -1 (but it’s bad enough that Rachel Weisz’s character is both unbelievable and unsympathetic)
  • -1 (like, zero comic relief)

Final Score: 6

Bechdel (Baseline: 5):

  • +5 (Passes the Bechdel Test)

Final Score: 10, and I’m a little surprised, but there was, indeed, a scene between two named female characters that wasn’t about a guy.  It was just the one scene, and if they do make another sequel Weisz’s is by far the most disposable character, but it was there. 

IMDb Sez:


  • Tony Gilroy:
    His only other times in the big chair are the overrated Michael Clayton (2007) and the forgettable Duplicity (2009).


  • Tony Gilroy & Dan Gilroy:
    Tony wrote or co-wrote Bournes 1, 2 and 3, a bunch of other Hollywood fluff, and the entertainingly over-the-top The Devil’s Advocate (1997).  Dan’s done similar but less impressive stuff. 

Rotten Tomatoes Sez:

All Critics: 52% Top Critics: 56% Audience: 76%


  • There’s a guy credited as “MSNBC Man Analyst”.  Ha! 
  • They aren’t fucking around with that PG-13 rating.  I chatted with two nice women who looked to be in their sixties or so on my way out, and they were impressed that it had no sex and no swears. 
  • It took years, but the Universal logo finally caught up with the Disney one in terms of sheer, unabridged computer graphics. 
  • They do a good job of making Norton (b.1969) look older than Renner (b.1971) even though the two of them are almost the same age. 
  • Real drones are much less incompetent than the one here.
  • Odd geopolitical note: they listed Seoul as “Seoul, Korea”, not “Seoul, South Korea”. 
  • There are a lot of reasons why it’s a cliche that the black guy dies first, and movies like this are a lot of them.  It manages to kill off not one, not two, but three (3!) minority super agents before Jeremy Renner has even broken a sweat. 
  • Given recent events in Colorado and Wisconsin, I’ll bet they wished the plot didn’t include a workplace shooting scene. 
  • Which is why I think the off screen newscaster voice saying “another American city” was experiencing tragedy was probably the last thing to get added in. 
  • There are several gaping leaps of logic in the main plot that are hard to forgive because this movie is relentlessly serious.
  • It takes half the movie before we get to see people in a fancy crisis center talking on the phone and yelling at giant monitors.  Don’t make us beg.  We love that shit. 
  • Not coincidentally, that’s when the movie starts to pick up some speed.  There’s only two real action sequences in the whole thing, but the one at the end is superb.
  • I’m serious about that sequel thing.  Renner does a great job, and if they wanted to reboot the franchise with him, they’ve mostly succeeded.  At no point was I pining for Matt Damon.  Ditto with Edward Norton, who slides into the role of amoral government dickwad well.  Please to be pacing it more like the second half of this movie than the first, though. 

Bottom Line:

Bourne 4 is a worthy installment in the gimmick heavy Bourne franchise, albeit one that takes a very long time to get going.  It’s not without problems.  It takes a very long time to get moving; it plays a lot of scenes for tension that are too ridiculous to be the least bit suspenseful; and there are several “wait, huh?” type moments when they skip over some inconvenient plot problem.  Rachael Weisz’s character is so underwritten (despite the glacial movement of the first act) that you can’t really dislike her even though her actions in the movie would’ve made her a pretty awful person.  And the main physical threat is some anonymous dude we don’t even get to see until the movie’s almost over. 

That said, the chase scene in Manila is pretty cool, Renner’s good in a deliberately cold hearted part, and Norton barks orders believably.  If they want to do that again in Bourne 5 sometime around 2014 or 15, I’d probably watch it. 

Suggested Alternate Viewing:

The Bourne Identity (2002) – If you haven’t seen the first three, it’s probably best to watch this instead.  You won’t be lost if you skip right to Bourne 4, the franchise’s story isn’t really that complicated, but the first movie does all the same things well that this one does well, plus it gets interesting at the beginning instead of halfway through.

WARNING: The comments section is a spoiler friendly zone.  By reading this with your inner monologue, you have waved any right to bitch about spoilers in perpetuity throughout the universe.

Atlas Shrugged Part 2Tee hee

Zero Dark Thirty – For political reasons, the controversy has been postponed until December. 

Trouble with the Curve – From Ayn Rand to killing Bin Laden to a romantic comedy starring Clint Eastwood.  Historians are going to laugh at us. 

Life of Pi – Oscar bait.  But at least’s it’s unusual Oscar bait. 

Oz the Great and Powerful – When they change from black and white to color, they also change the aspect ratio from normal to widescreen.  It’d be neat if they do that for the whole movie, but this isn’t coming out until March, so we won’t find out for awhile.

This Is 40 – Apatow is back with a spinoff of Knocked Up.  There’s more skin in this trailer than there is in all of Bourne 4

Les Miserables – Meh. 

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