Jason Bourne Collection Review


With the new film in the series, Jason Bourne coming out in the…Jason Bourne franchise, I thought it might be a good idea to go back to the series as a whole. The Bourne series’ influence on cinema in the post-2000 scene is massive, everything from Taken to XIII to Daniel Craig’s James Bond owes a debt to Bourne, and it’s still influencing cinema today. The films I will be reviewing are;

  • The Bourne Identity
  • The Bourne Supremacy
  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • The Bourne Legacy


The Bourne Identity

The start of the series, with Matt Damon in the title role and Doug Liman on directing duties. The film follows Jason Bourne (Damon) a spy for the CIA who is struck with amnesia and hunted by his old firm. We see the start of the themes and notes of the franchise here; the European setting, a sense of realism (distinguishing it from the most recent James Bond film at the time, Die Another Day) and the bone crunching mix of Jeet Kune Do and Filipino Kali for the fight scenes. And while there are moments of greatness peppered throughout (The bank/embassy evacuation, the Mini chase through the streets of Paris and the showdown with Clive Owen’s Professor) there is a hint of ropey-ness about it all. The fight scenes aren’t well shot and the sound effects are ripped straight from an Adam West Batman episode. The staircase ride, while it starts interesting, also has some video-gamey sound effects, poor CGI and sped-up footage. Apart from that, Chris Cooper is a great villain as Conklin and John Powell’s score is one of the most recognisible themes in all of cinema.

Score: 6/10 A Good start to an action series.

The Bourne Supremacy

Matt Damon returns as the superspy but the director’s chair has moved from Liman over to Paul Grengrass. The story continues two years on, when a shadowy Russian oligarch forces Bourne back into the CIAs spotlight. While this was never my favourite Bourne film, after going back to it, I look upon it more favorably. Greengrass’ signature hand-held shaky style is at it’s best here (and sadly imitated poorly by many other directors) conveying the brutality and speed of the hand-to-hand fight scenes. One fight, between Bourne and the last Treadstone assassin, Jarda, is a brilliant display of improvised weaponry. The hotel/ Neski segments have a nice Traditions Of The Trade feel and help fill in background to Treadstone. The main weak point is the story. Who is Gretkov (the oligarch) and why is he so interested in Bourne? Why does he have the Neski files? There is no clear point to why the main bad guy is setting up Bourne other than to make some money, which is quite poor character development.

Score: 8/10 If it wasn’t for the weak story, this would have been the best one.

The Bourne Ultimatum

The final chapter of the Matt Damon trilogy, with Paul Greengrass returning to direct. Set mere hours after the end of Supremacy, the film follows Bourne as he finally heads after the CIA to find out who he really is. This is the culmination of everything that was great about the first two while taking out the elements that didn’t work. The hand-to-hand combat is better than ever, with a beautiful set piece against a Capoeira-infused Blackbrair agent. The rest of the action set pieces are on par, with a great rooftop chase in Tangiers as well as a shootout in London Waterloo. The story is also leagues ahead of the tenuous link in Supremacy, with it linking back to Bourne as his origin rather than some half-baked scheme about stealing money from the second film.

Score: 9/10 The best of series so far.

The Bourne Legacy

With Matt Damon and Paul Grengrass both said they were not returning to the series, it fell to the previous three film’s screenwriter Tony Gilory to take the directing chair and Jeremy Renner as a new “Outcome” agent Aaron Cross to take hold of the Bourne franchise. Set during and after The Bourne Ultimatum, the film follows another agent, Aaron Cross, as the previous programs are shut down by government bureaucrat Eric Byer (played superbly by Edward Norton) to risk embarrassment of the CIA. Cross is the only survivor of his program, leading the CIA to hunt him down. While Jeremy Renner is good stand-in for Matt Damon in the action scenes, his manner is too cheerful. He’s always cracking jokes, which doesn’t really fit the character of a deadly assassin. His romance with Rachael Weisz seems token and the film ends flatly, obviously trying to set up a sequel that never came. Apart from one long-take of Cross in a shootout in a house and a nifty motorcycle trick near the end, the rest of the action is boring or ridiculous. The story isn’t engaging like the third film and it’s only the barest relation to the Bourne series that made anyone want to go see it.

Score: 4/10 Generic-o fist-punchy, gun-shooty (that means it’s bad).

Top 10 Worst Films of 2015

Another year gone and sadly, it was really easy to pick the Top 10 worst films for 2015. I guess when you know you’ve seen a really good film; you also know when you’ve seen an absolute stinker. And these are my worst of the worst.

Just like my Best-Of list, only films I’ve reviewed will be eligible for the list, so no Taken 3 on this list (even though I actually enjoyed it enough that it would not even appear on the list even if I had done a review of it). But let’s get on with it. This is going to be therapeutic for me. First though, some honorable, or in this case dishonorable mentions;

A Royal Night Out

Ruth And Alex

Spooks: The Greater Good.

Okay then. Let’s get started!


The first review that I really gave a negative mark to, it’s The Gunman. I went back and watched The Gunman again just to see if it was as bad as I remembered and sadly it was. With a cast list of Sean Penn, Rat Winstone, Mark Rylance and Idris Elba, it’s sad that The Gunman was such a poor film.


I didn’t want to watch this film. Every other reviewer and their mother had already said their piece on Pixels and with all the negative press around it, I wasn’t feeling too thrilled to actually spend money on it. But in the name of journalistic integrity I went, and I was thoroughly bored. I didn’t have the same reaction as everyone else (that of wanting to spit venom at the screen) but it wasn’t a good movie by any stretch of the mind.


Keanu Reeves is one of those actors who has a tendency for choosing really odd roles. I mean, look at his filmography, The Matrix, Point Break, Man Of Tai Chi, it’s an eclectic mix. So when he teamed up with Eli Roth for B-Movie horror film Knock Knock, it was an interesting proposition. Sadly, all the good will in the world wouldn’t have been able save this utter flop, with some of the worst acting in the world and script that seems to have been written by a 12-year old who’s just learnt what sex is.


Novel-to-film adaptations have been a staple of Hollywood since the dawn of the medium. I had managed to read a small amount of Child 44 before I had seen the film and I was disappointed that director Daniel Espinosa had managed to turn a thoroughly riveting book into a snooze-fest. Tom Hardy is totally off his game as wooden officer Leo Demidov, with only Gary Oldman being the shining light in a cast of duds. You might find enjoyment if you’re a fan of the book, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.


Vin Diesel is one of those actors that manages to get pet-projects pushed through the machine of Hollywood. He did so with Riddick back in 2013, and did so with The Last Witch Hunter, which is my number six. A Dungeons And Dragons style fantasy film set in modern day New York, it doesn’t do anything interesting or new with what is a pretty good set-up. A note to screen-writers, immortal characters aren’t exciting, the fact that they can’t be beaten is boring.


If a comedy film isn’t up to scratch, then it quickly becomes a tragedy. Spy is one of those types of films. Many of the best jokes were given away in the trailer, and the ones that weren’t were stolen from director Paul Feig’s earlier films with Melissa McCarthy, with most revolving around “Ha-ha she’s fat and that’s funny”. Add Peter Serafinowicz as a borderline-rapist character (which again, we are meant to find funny) and Spy becomes a toe-curlingly, cringe worthy film.


I wanted to love this film so much. One of my favourite game series that had already being messed around with back in 2007, Hitman: Agent 47 is the film I’m most disappointed in this year. Awful characterisation, horrible action and the bare minimum of relation to the source material, all of it can be traced back to screen-writer/hack Skip Woods. The only good thing about Hitman: Agent 47 is the endless sweeping shots of Singapore.


This one is a surprise. A film that has been garnering top marks from all of the prominent critics and has been hailed by some as the best film of the year. For me though, Carol is one of the most boring and over-hyped films of recent memory. A film about an adulterous lesbian relationship in the 1950s, Carol tries to be this year’s Blue Is The Warmest Colour but just doesn’t have anything of merit to make it worthy of a place on a Top 10 list. Stay away, this film doesn’t deserve your attention.


M. Night Shyamalan. I could literally stop my review of The Visit there and it would be a sound enough argument for it to be number two on the worst of the year list. But I’ll keep going. Found Footage. Jump Scare Horror (that doesn’t even work half the time). Continuity Errors. Ageism. A stupid little teenager rapping throughout the film and over the end credits. That’s it, I don’t want to think about The Visit anymore.


This isn’t a film you’ve probably heard of. As I said in my Best-Of list, I’ve had to watch a lot of films that I would have normally seen since doing this. Some have been absolute gems, but this is one of the most appalling films I have ever seen, not just 2015. Phantom is not just a bad film, it’s a film that hates its audience and doesn’t give a crap who knows it. Billed as a Zero Dark Thirty set in India, Phantom tries to be an action film and ends up coming off as Team America but lacking all self-awareness and humour that Team America had. Please, do not seek this film out, just read the review and leave it at that. I don’t want to give this film traffic.

That’s it for 2015! I’m Tom, The Student Film Critic and I’ll see you in 2016!

Read the contrasting post on the Top 10 Best Films of 2015!


I am a huge James Bond fan. I’ve been a fan ever since I can remember, even going out to Blockbuster every weekend (remember when that was a thing?) and renting out Bond films to watch. I was pumped for SPECTRE before the first teaser trailer was out, but after the triumphant 50th anniversary with Skyfall, can SPECTRE even hold a candle to the previous film’s success?

SPECTRE stars Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Christoph Waltz, Dave Bautista and Monica Belluci and is directed by Sam Mendes. The story finds the super spy James Bond once again tracking down sinister characters and organisations, who this time have a much more personal connection with our hero.

Daniel Craig returns once again as James Bond. While he still is as suave and as funny as he was in Skyfall, in SPECTRE we get to see a lot more of his past, especially his parents and his heritage. While it was touched upon during the climax of Skyfall, here we see a lot more than just a tombstone and the family home. Christoph Waltz is superb as Franz Oberhauser, who for the sake of spoilers will not be mentioned in too much detail. One thing I did like about him though was his almost emotionless performance. While Raoul Silva was comically mad, Oberhauser doesn’t have any trademark quirks, which makes him stand out even more amongst his peers, he’s just pure evil. A small role for Dave Bautista as assassin Mr. Hinx is fun to watch, as well as his unique way that he kills his targets, likening him to series favourites Jaws or Oddjob. The standout role though is Lea Seydoux as Madeleine Swann, who seems to be the best parts of strength, sexiness and charm that haven’t been in the role of the Bond girl since Diana Rigg. Her interactions with Bond, while at first start out as the usual suspicious characters thrown together by chance, soon mellow out as both start to work together to find the truth about Oberhauser.

The film starts with Craig’s long awaited gun-barrel opening sequence. While thematically I understand why it wasn’t in the first two Craig era Bond films, it’s return made me extremely happy. After the gun-barrel is finished, director Sam Mendes pulls us into a four-and-a-half minute tracking shot through the Day of The Dead parade in Mexico City. It’s an breathtaking way to start any film, and with the scene gradually building up to an excellent, explosive action sequence, it feels like one of the best Bond pre-title sequences in a long time.

The action scenes, the meat of a James Bond film, are executed well through the film. While most of the big action set pieces are directed exceptionally, the smaller build ups are sometimes brushed over too quickly (we don’t need handheld/close cut camera nonsense back in this series after Quantum Of Solace). The beginning action scene in Mexico, along with a car chase between Bond and Hinx in Rome are my two favourite scenes, as well as a shootout that takes place in Oberhauser’s main base of operations.

There were a few problems I had with SPECTRE, as always. While the film has its fair share of funny lines, some of them just don’t fall the right way. Similar to The Man From U.N.C.L.E., the actors stand still for a second to let the audience laugh, but there were a couple of lines that delivered no laughs from the audience I was in. The other problem I had was that I felt there was no chemistry between Craig and Naomi Harris. Instead of the barely concealed flirting of past years between Bond and Moneypenny, here it just feels forced. But these are just small nitpicks in an amazing Bond film.

In conclusion, SPECTRE is a fantastic follow-up to Skyfall. While I was a bit worried it might have suffered from media overhype, as soon as the film started I knew Sam Mendes had once again made one of the best Bond films in the franchise.

Score: 10/10 A brilliant continuation for Craig’s Bond.

Spy Review

Spy marks director Paul Feig’s and actress’s Melissa McCarthy’s third partnership in filmmaking. Their first film together, Bridesmaids received positive reviews and various awards. Their second film The Heat had a more mixed response but was still fairly positive. Can they pull it off again in Spy?

Spy stars Melissa McCarthy as CIA analyst Susan Cooper, who is tasked with going undercover to find the location of a wayward nuclear bomb that is soon going to be sold to a terrorist group. The film also stars Jude Law, Jason Statham, Miranda Hart, Peter Serafinowicz, Alison Janney, Rose Byrne and for some bizarre reason, 50 Cent.

Let’s start with the good. The pre-credit sequence, involving Jude Law and Melissa McCarthy on a mission to try and retrieve the nuclear bomb that sets up the entire film is fun, and adds a nice flavour of old-school James Bond to the film. Even though there is an overly long joke involving bats and Melissa McCarthy which doesn’t work, the first couple of minutes are good pulpy fun. The title sequence after said opening is also good, again bringing in a flair of James Bond to the film.

There are also several fight scenes peppered throughout the film and each one is film brilliantly. Taking some inspiration from earlier 2015 film John Wick, the hand to hand combat in the film is bone-crunching and satisfying. Director Paul Feig does have an odd habit of shooting most fight scenes from a bird’s eye view, but it doesn’t destroy the scenes too much. There is even a homage to Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Volume 1 during a fight sequence, but at least Kill Bill as a good film. Spy is not.

Where to start? Okay, I like Melissa McCarthy, she seems like a very nice person in interviews and such, but here she fails dramatically. McCarthy sheds her usual typecasting of the loudmouth (e.g. Bridesmaids, The Heat and Tammy) for a more timid approach, but halfway through the film she changes back to her usual role. It’s really annoying to see a talented actress keep getting typecasted in the same character type, but writer/director Paul Feig seems to think otherwise. Most of the jokes are at McCarthy’s expense, but they all seem to be recycled from Feig’s earlier films, leaving Spy seemingly with no new jokes.

Most of the women in the film are portrayed rather poorly, ranging from ditzy and clumsy to evil, scantily clad murderers who behave like petulant children having a tantrum. Even though by the end of the film McCarthy is gun-toting badass, the film still makes jokes about her appearance and ability to perform her duty competently. The exception to this would be Alison Janney as the head of the CIA, but she hardly clocks in ten minutes in the two hour run time.

The men meanwhile are all obnoxious idiots who are all in love with themselves. Jude Law is your usual spy type, but during his time in the film he is always fixing his hair in reflective objects and smugly smiling. Jason Statham is a nutcase whose entire dialogue seems to be anecdotes about nearly dying and a remarkable number of swear words that would rival The Wolf of Wall Street. The character I had the most trouble coming to terms with however was Peter Serafinowicz’s Aldo, an Italian whose wandering hands are the subject of many jokes. Every time he opened his mouth, the words spoken were usually some sleazy come-on to McCarthy, which along with his wandering hands, became distasteful and unnerving pretty quickly.

The script meanwhile has flaws with how it brings in its villains and drops them again. We are introduced to several key players early on, who are all involved with the nuclear bomb that is at the centre of the film. The problem is Spy doesn’t focus on any of them apart from Rose Byrne, leaving us with some rather bland stereotypical villains. Some are no sooner produced from the ether before swiftly returning mere minutes later, leaving us wondering why they were even conjured up in the first place.

The film also has some pretty terrible continuity flaws. Clothing, markings on the actors and the geography of the sets all disappear and reappear during the film, leaving me wondering whether Paul Feig even cared about Spy while he was filming it.

In summary, Spy is just bad. While the fight scenes are surprisingly good and there are a few funny lines which raised the barest of smiles from me, Spy doesn’t deliver anything fresh. But who am I kidding; this film is going to make a boatload of money isn’t it?

Score: 1/10 The weakest film of 2015 so far.

Spooks: The Greater Good Review

Films based of popular television shows have had a rocky history. With varying critical successes and fails such as Are You Being Served?, In The Loop, Ali G and The League of Gentlemen, it was with a wary anticipation that I went in Spooks: The Greater Good. But soon into the film that anticipation turned straight into despair.

Spooks: The Greater Good stars Peter Firth as Harry Pearce, who after a high level terrorist escapes from MI5 custody, goes off the grid to find the escaped terrorist himself. Harry’s protégé, Will Holloway, played by Kit Harrington, is brought back into the fold by MI5 to track down Harry and stop a terrorist attack on London.

I have seen a fair few Spooks episodes. They were always on quite late if I remember correctly, and though I never watched them every week, I did enjoy the ones I watched. Sadly however, I found only the bare minimum of enjoyment in watching Spooks: The Greater Good. One of the main problems for me was the casting of Kit Harrington in the lead role. His voice is monotone throughout the entire film, with the same going for his facial expression. Yes he is Jon Snow, and he maybe good in Game of Thrones (as everyone keeps reminding me) but he is not good here. Many of the cast have this same problem of zero emotion being displayed, with Peter Firth, Jennifer Ehle and Eleanor Matsuura succumbing to it as well. The only actor who does display any emotion is Tim McInnerny as Director-General of MI5 Oliver Mace, who delivers most of his lines with a sneering sense of disapproval.

Switching to the bad guys, our high level terrorist/bad guy Adem Qasim (played by another GoT alumni Elyes Gabel) is woefully underused. For how much the MI5 guys talk him up to be a high value terrorist, we only get around five minutes or less of film time devoted to him, meaning we don’t get to learn about him and why MI5 are so invested in why they want to hunt this man down in particular. In the press releases and in the film he is referred to as being very charismatic, but we don’t ever see this, which gives him a character trait that might have brought something a bit different to the table.

Fight and chase sequences are interspersed throughout the film, all with fluctuating quality. A gun battle/chase at the very beginning of the film is handled very well, but halfway through the film our old friend “shaky handheld cam” rears its ugly head. Fights are over in a series of quick motions, most of which happen with the actors backs to the camera, meaning we don’t get to see anything spectacular. You can see with the fast movements it was trying to copy the Bourne franchise, yet it never allows us to see these brutal flourishes of violence, leaving us as the audience wanting more. The final fight/terrorism scene is fairly well put together, even if it did keep cutting away to Kit Harrington’s bland face every couple of seconds.

There are some good things in the film, as usual. The music, created by Dominic Lewis (known for his work on Wreck-It Ralph and Big Hero 6) does have a nice vibe to it, with it being reminiscent of John Powell’s famous The Bourne Identity score. Several of the fight scenes I have already mentioned are put together fairly well, along with fleeting scenes throughout the film, such as a home invasion of an MI5 agent and some of the dialogue that is thrown around the Situation Room at the end of the film.

But overall, the film just feels very generic, with story points stolen from much better spy films, as well as stock character motives (Absent parents, revenge and redemption seem to be the sole things that define Kit Harrington’s character). In summary, Spooks: The Greater Good is not a bad film, but has nothing that makes it stand out from the crowd of modern spy movies. If you’re a fan of the series you might get kick out of the nods to older characters, but it’s nothing you’ll keep coming back to.

Score: 4/10 Add a couple of points to the score if you like the TV show