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The Reel Thing/Jump Cuts

by Nathan Oravec

My fiancťe, Sam, and her mother recently went to see The Princess Diaries 2 - a film both have been anticipating with baited breath since the scrolling of the last credit at the end of Chapter One three years ago. Itís understandable. After all, that cliffhanger was brutal. Would the young princess be a good leader? Would Julie Andrews, flying on her umbrella, thwart the Nazis? Would the Special Edition DVD claim my $20?
All teasing aside, I have not seen the sequel and therefore cannot comment on the continuing saga of Princess Mia of Genovia. (God help me, I remember the name of the fictional country....) If Hilary Duff doesnít appear, itís already surpassed its progenitor by leaps and bounds. Iíd be willing to bet that at some point, the former Mary Poppins sheds her stodgy pedigree and rekindles her cool girlish wiles long forgotten - thereís bound to be a musical number. Given the subtitle - Royal Engagement - itís almost guaranteed that Hathaway makes good with some cookie-cutter, teen angel hard-body of a love interest. From what I hear - she has to choose between two! And what of the guy she was last seen dancing with the first time around? Sweeping chimneys with Bert and those Tuxedoed Penguins - thatís what.
Donít get me wrong - Thereís always room for romance. Iím sure PD2 delivers in lighthearted laughs, and after this review sees light, take heart that Iíll receive my due comeuppance for giving it a hard time. But there are still a few sizzles left in this summer - and if youíre looking for action, I offer you the following:
The Bourne Supremacy
Matt Damon (The Rainmaker) reprises his role as Jason Bourne, an elite, amnesiac assassin with resurfacing memories of just who and what he was. Having violently parted ways with his former puppeteers - a sinister black ops outfit known as Treadstone - in 2002ís The Bourne Identity, and hiding out in India with his girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente, Run Lola Run), heís soon forced back into action when the murder of a government official finds him framed and pursued by tenacious agents.
Paul Greenglass (Bloody Sunday) takes the directorís chair from Doug Liman for the sequel, and keeps events moving at a breakneck pace - almost literally. Hand-held cameras are placed in the thick of the action - including a ruthless fight sequence between Bourne and a fellow Treadstone operative and a climactic car chase through heavily trafficked tunnels of Russia. At times the motion is so incredibly visceral and frenetic that differentiating between blows of hands and feet and, yes, a tautly rolled magazine-cum-bludgeoning device becomes virtually impossible. But the best moment is when Bourne, having assessed his situation in less than a blink, systematically begins taking the hunt to his hunters.
Rated R for violence and language.
They say itís the first time Tom Cruise plays a bad guy. Itís not. That was 1994ís Interview with a Vampire. Just because he pranced around in puffy shirts like Little Lord Fontleroy with fangs doesnít make the character any less evil. Just the opposite, in fact.
In all fairness, however, itís easy to see how Cruiseís portrayal in Collateral could cause his former foray into villainy to be up and forgotten.
Itís odd Cruise hasnít done more on the dark side, he possesses in his oeuvre an unsettling, icy stare that seems tailor-made for antagonists. Here, he plays Vincent, a hired gun with five hits logged into his PDA. All he needs is a ride.
Enter Max (Jamie Foxx, Ali, Ray), a meek cabby with good intentions and high designs for a Love-Boat style limo service, but without the initiative to ever take that first step into a bigger world. Landing the late night shift, he has a cute encounter with an early fare, a federal prosecutor (Jada Pinkett Smith), who hands him her card before she heads off into the night, in case he ever needs anything prosecuted or wants to ďdebate cab routes.Ē
Shortly after, Vincent slips into the back seat - and the evening really begins.
Michael Mannís (Heat) earlier films always struck me as plodding. Action films in which I was always waiting for the action. Perhaps itís the simplicity of the story, here, that allows him to truly shine. In short, the film follows the cab carrying Max and his devilish passenger as they make Vincentís rounds, leading up to the inevitable confrontation between the two. Itís the backseat confessionals and sermons between bullets, though, that add an incredible heft to the film; the getting-to-know you shtick that generally accompanies action films in which both partners share the front seat.
The term ďstar making turnĒ was coined for people like Foxx, who plays Max with a pitch-perfect aura of desperation and uncertainty.
Cruise, garbed in a sleek, silver suit with matching slicked hair and facial scruff is the epitome of cool, cold precision. When pontificating on his childhood, he mentions his father, a monster who beat Vincent every second he wasnít in a halfway house.
ďWhat happened?Ē asks Max.
ďWhen I was twelve years old... I killed him.Ē His laugh, through a wide grin of clenched white teeth, is demonic.
Collateral takes place in the streets of Los Angeles, almost entirely at night, in the dark - and yet is always perfectly lit. Interesting, thatís probably the single best summation of the film, as well.
Rated R for violence and language.

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