Today's DVDs & Blu-rays: The Bourne Legacy and a Trip into the Vault
We have to admit we liked The Bourne Legacy way more than we should have. (The snobby cinephile part of us felt a little embarrassed that a few fight scenes, some car chases and a little conspiracy theory won us over so quickly.) But there it is, we loved Bourne Legacy. This time the story centers on agent Aaron Cross (an intense Jeremy Renner). A member of Operation Outcome, Cross has been both physically and mentally enhanced via a couple of scientifically altered viruses which he's been exposed to without his knowledge. Helping him figure out who's done what to him and how he can get out of the spy game alive is program geneticist Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz).
There's a black-ops officer after them, of course, the steely Eric Byer (Edward Norton). The program is in danger of being uncovered by a newspaper reporter, so to cover their collective asses, Byer and his buddies decide to close it down and start over. They start with killing all of the agents, well, almost all of the agents. Cross escapes. Then they kill all of the scientists involved. Again, only almost. Cross saves Shearing and the two head off to Manila to make his enhancements permanent. Why is Cross willing to face down super-soldier assassins and the entire U. S. government in order to keep his enhancements? Because without them, he'll revert to his significantly below-average IQ. (Ouch!)
The chemistry between Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz works on screen (Weisz isn't a particular favorite of ours, but we liked her here). Director Tony Gilroy keeps the action moving along at a great pace, with just enough dialogue and background to make us care about the characters without interrupting the fight scenes and car chases. Extras on the Blu-ray edition include several behind-the-scenes featurettes, commentary by the filmmakers and deleted scenes.
Also out today is Jane Campion's 1996 The Portrait of a Lady with Nicole Kidman, which is making its way to Blu-ray. The stellar cast includes Barbara Hershey, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Shelley Duvall, Richard E. Grant, Shelley Winters, Viggo Mortensen, Christian Bale and John Gielgud. The period piece is based on the Henry James novel of the same title. Also out today is Black Like Me, with James Whitmore playing a white journalist who darkens his skin and attempts to experience life as a black man. Based on the memoir of John Howard Griffin, the story is set in 1959 and follows the writer as he makes his way through the segregated South. In these days of Soledad O'Brien's Black in America series on CNN, the experiment might seem out of date, but Black Like Me captures the state of race relations in America at the start of the civil rights movement and still resonates with viewers with a strong message about prejudice and discrimination. Special features include a 60-minute documentary, Uncommon Vision: The Life and Times of John Howard Griffin. And finally, spaghetti western fans will be happy with two Django double features that are out today. The 1971 A Man Called Django with Anthony Steffen and 1970's Django and Sartana's Showdown in the West with Franco Borelli come in one set, with the 1967 Django Kills Silently with George Eastman and 1971 Django's Cut Price Corpses with Jeff Cameron, both seen here for the first time on DVD, come in another. Extras are minimal, just trailers and poster galleries for both.