“Look man I jumped into it. It may f*cking suck.” Clayne Crawford Talks ‘Lethal Weapon’ (THN 2016)

lwClayne Crawford is going global as well as postal, taking over the role of Martin Riggs from Mel Gibson for Fox’s Lethal Weapon. In this interview I found his views on the small screen take to be refreshingly honest…!

Clayne Crawford: I was spending time with my family on my farm in Alabama when they called. I laughed in their face at the idea of even turning Lethal Weapon into a TV show, I said ‘You need to leave the fucking franchise alone, it’s great and Mel Gibson did such a wonderful job, I want no part of it.’ And that went on for about three weeks before I finally read the script…

In my heart I’m still just a kid, who wants to play cowboys. I love playing dress up, I’m a kid at heart and I love using that platform as a therapy for myself. So when I read a character who was broken and had lost everything and he channelled that through stopping bad guys.. y’know for lack of a better word he saves the day and he’s just this damaged guy, and he’s funny… I thought ‘You know what? Fuck it, if you guys really want me to do this let’s just go and do the best we can and if we fail miserably that’s okay, we’ll go do something else.’

Look man, I jumped into it. It may fucking suck. But I enjoyed the material, and I tried to bring honesty to everything that I did and I tried to forget the original film. I tried to bring Martin Riggs into the twenty-first century and here I am. We’ll see what happens man.

Me: I think a lot of people are looking forward to it.

CC: I think you’re wrong, I don’t think anybody’s fucking looking forward to it. (Laughs) Which is kind of a good thing because they’re going to think it’s such shit, that they’ve set the bar so low we can only succeed, right?

lw-2The most important question is will you be keeping the hair?

(Laughs) I’m going to be a little different than Mel. Part of me agreeing to this was… we all had to shed our preconceived ideas of this relationship between these two men and who Mel Gibson was playing Riggs in 1987. It’s 2016 and he’s quite a different guy. There’s a little bit of a different backstory… look man, I hope Mel’s not pissed off. That’s my hope, that if he watches this thing, if anyone watches this fucking thing, they’ll be entertained, and go on a fun ride for an hour.

 

This interview first appeared on THN.

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‘Jason Bourne’ DVD Review (The Hollywood News)

jb-1The last entry in the Bourne franchise was 2012’s The Bourne Legacy starring Jeremy Renner. While that became a one-off, it’s worth examining the character’s true legacy before diving in with this review. The original trilogy helped cement Matt Damon‘s position in Hollywood. Paul Greengrass‘s involvement from part two onwards gave the series an additional layer of quality. More than anything, the films had an impact on movie action in general. When Daniel Craig took the role of 007, it was no coincidence his adventures were “back to basics” in nature, a single shot saying more than a million bullets out of a machine gun ever could.

Identity through to Supremacy appeared to offer a complete journey for Jason Bourne. Despite this, Damon and Greengrass have got the band back together for their riskiest mission yet: an extra helping that tries not to tarnish what has gone before. Have they succeeded? Well, on the whole yes, though there are a few bumps on the road as they go.

Greengrass and co-writer Christopher Rouse have developed their hero’s personal odyssey further by revealing hitherto-unknown information about Bourne’s involvement in Operation Blackbriar (the covert assassination league he blew wide open during his last outing). When former ally-turned-Snowden-esque-hacker Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) contacts a broken-down Bourne about this explosive development, the scene is set for him to return from his exile as a bare knuckle boxer and set the world to rights one more time. It’s a logical but well-worn approach, though in fairness the strength of the franchise was the way it put a new spin on hackneyed spy thriller clichés rather than innovate itself.

Drawn back into the fray like a chiselled moth to a flame, Damon’s Bourne runs up against an impressive trio of villains. Tommy Lee Jones‘s weathered CIA chief Robert Dewey wants the rogue operative permanently erased. Alicia Vikander‘s ambitious and fetching Heather Lee represents the changing face of intelligence, believing Bourne can be brought back into the fold. Meanwhile Vincent Cassel’s “The Asset” becomes the latest relentless Euro-henchman to be put on Damon’s tail, a man of steel with old scores to settle.

Inevitably it’s more of the same controlled chaos, with Greengrass’s handheld camera roving amongst the fist fights and destruction at breakneck speed. The unflinching pace doesn’t make up for repetition and an overall lack of meat. However some intriguing snippets of Bourne’s character are in evidence – most notably the way he distances himself from Nicky’s counter culture activities. He may be fighting the system, but at heart he’s an establishment man, a strand which gives credence to Vikander’s belief he secretly wants to return to duty.

She is the film’s strongest element, Lee possessing equal capacity to wear either the white hat or the black. Damon can do this sort of thing in his sleep and the same can be said of Jones, who is a welcome presence. Cassel’s ageing hard man is also highly watchable. Like a lot of these big action projects, it could have done with being a bit shorter and not all the fresh ingredients work. Riz Ahmed‘s social media mogul doesn’t add much to the narrative, aside from making the basic point that Dewey’s world is changing.

Ironically the climactic chase has all the extravagance of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond, a sign that maybe the series is running low on inspiration. The team have had a good run, and made a sizeable mark on the genre – as Moby’s excellent Extreme Ways kicks in over the end credits, it might be time to admit those ways are now the old ways.

 

This review first appeared on THN.

Sometimes They Come Back: ‘Jason Bourne’ Feature (The Hollywood News)

md-jb-2For a while it looked like Matt Damon had left the action-packed life of rogue operative par excellence Jason Bourne far behind. Jeremy Renner starred in 2012’s The Bourne Legacy and was set to continue in the visceral vein of his predecessor. However, fans got a surprise when Damon announced his return to Robert Ludlum‘s butt-kicking chronicle, bringing regular collaborator Paul Greengrass along for the ride.

The star’s reappearance in one of his defining roles is a bit out of left field, but certainly not unprecedented when it comes to celluloid heroes and heroines resurrecting themselves for that extra sack of box office loot. So as Damon comes back to Bourne, let’s check out some other notable names who decided the show wasn’t quite over yet…

SEAN CONNERY: JAMES BOND

jb-nsna

The rugged Scotsman made his name wearing the tuxedo of Ian Fleming‘s infamous superspy. Yet his attempts to leave the legacy behind were twice thwarted. First he was persuaded to get the Walther PPK out for Diamonds Are Forever in 1971, after replacement George Lazenby‘s stint turned into a one-off.

Twelve years later he got another call, this time to pit an ageing Bond directly against the Roger Moore era for Never Say Never Again. The reworking of Thunderball ultimately lacked the class of the established franchise. On the other hand it was fun to see Connery back in the saddle, strongly supported by Kim Basinger and Rowan Atkinson.

KATE BECKINSALE: SELENE

kb-uThe actress with enough charm to get the pants off King Kong made two Underworld flicks before seemingly moving on to pastures new and unbloodied. 2009 prequel Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans starred Rhona Mitra as a younger version of rubber-clad vampire and werewolf-buster Selene. Here we saw how the ludicrous battle between the fanged and the furry got started in the first place.

Beckinsale must have figured there was life in the old dog despatcher yet, returning to the fold for Awakening in 2012. The film had Selene defending herself in a dangerous future where vamps and wolves were acknowledged by the general populace. Forthcoming chapter Blood Wars will continue the saga with the star very much at the forefront.

VIN DIESEL: XANDER CAGE

vd-xxxDiesel has made a better fist of reviving his well-known characters than most. Luckily he’s been the mainstay of three eye-catching series; playing Riddick from Pitch Black onwards, Dominic Toretto in the turbo-charged monster of the Fast & Furious movies; and now he’s pumping iron for xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage, set for release next year.

The belated threequel will come fifteen years after the original installment, which posited the brooding actor as an extreme sports junkie turned 007-esque adventurer. He declined the next mission for part two, with the lead role taken by the unlikely shape of Ice Cube. The new chapter finds Cage engaged in that staple of the genre, the testosterone-laden conspiracy thriller.

MATT DAMON: JASON BOURNE

jb-1It’s a tough gig finding out you were a trained assassin in a former life. Jason Bourne should know – he’s been living the nightmare for the past fourteen years. The Bourne Ultimatum appeared to give him his long sought-after identity back. Though when you’re as up to your neck in calamity as this guy, you know it’s only a matter of time before yet more trouble ensues.

Helmer/co-writer Paul Greengrass has reportedly succeeded again in handing Bourne his action credentials in another exploration into what makes the chiseled chaser tick. Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander and Vincent Cassel make up the opposition trying to take the hero down a peg, whilst Julia Stiles resumes her role as Nicky, on hand to get Damon out of the mother of all jams, spooned into the jar in just the right amount by one of Hollywood’s hottest teams.

 

This feature first appeared on THN.

“There’s the film you write, the film you shoot, the film you edit…” Interview with ‘Jason Bourne’ writer Christopher Rouse (The Hollywood News)

jb-3As Matt Damon brings the high octane adventures of Jason Bourne into your home this week, now is a good time to interview the man who puts those heart-stopping action sequences together: editor and co-writer Christopher Rouse.

Rouse occupies an intriguing position in the Bourne firmament. Having began his association in the cutting room, he now takes on script and production duties alongside director Paul Greengrass. This strong partnership crafts the franchise behind the scenes, while Greengrass and Damon cause a storm front of camera. As the torch bearers for Robert Ludlum’s character, our first question naturally concerned the immense task they faced…

jb-crTHN: Did you and Paul Greengrass experience any trepidation in continuing Bourne’s story?

Christopher Rouse: Well I think we both have incredible respect and admiration for the franchise. We didn’t want to embark on a process or a script idea unless we believed there was a real story to tell, that would do justice to the franchise and his character. So we were cautious all the way through it certainly.

Tell me about how a Bourne action sequence evolves, from the original idea to the page and then on to the shoot…

Like any sequence, action has to be rooted in story and character. It has to have stakes and clear goals and obstacles for the people involved. Once that’s defined it’s a matter of calibrating that, in terms of what might be visually interesting and exciting. Once we get something on page then Paul will take it and work with his second unit director and a very talented stunt team. Then the piece will evolve even further. Where it’s shot, that’ll give rise to other ideas… the location may dictate certain restrictions to what we’ve originally imagined. I’ll receive it in the cutting room, it’ll continue to evolve and I’ll shape it as I see fit through the post-production process. It’s like any other scene, or aspect of the story. There’s the film you write, the film you shoot, the film you edit. The piece is always imbued with new ideas and different types of energy.

jb-1Paul Greengrass is known for having multiple camera set-ups, so you’ve got lots of footage to play with in the editing suite. Would you say your films with him are primarily made in the edit?     

I’m not sure that’s a fair characterization. They certainly take shape there in many ways but Paul is a visionary filmmaker and I think the film is in his head very early on.

It strikes me as a complicated way of working, to shoot so much to begin with!

It is a lot of work and at the end of the day I’m trying to put together a film that makes sense to me, and that is in concert with Paul’s vision. Having done six films now with him, one of the great things is that we know each other well, we share a common world view. We’re interested by the same types of things. We have the same artistic sensibilities. It’s very easy for us to lock in together, I’m highly attuned to what he believes the piece is as it evolves. Even though I get a tremendous amount of footage, if I’ve done my job and I’m anchored in story and character when I start putting things together, it’s actually most times a straightforward proposition. I’m not saying there isn’t any heavy lifting because there is. It’s shaped in the cutting room but not made there, which is an important distinction.

jb-2The film is also another reunion between Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon. What is it about that relationship that you think works so well?  

There’s deep affection between the two of them and they’re exceedingly hard workers. You wind up with a special relationship. And then there are loads of tangibles, having two types of superb artists married together, there’s that symbiotic connection that occurs where you get a lot of magic, spontaneously and unexpectedly. It doesn’t happen often.

You started off as an editor and now you’re co-writing and producing. Do you fancy directing at some stage?

I’ve been approached to direct several times, in fact I’ve written for many years myself. My father (Russell Rouse) was a screenwriter and I’ve written short stories, poetry and screenplays on my own. I’d consider directing. One of the things I really enjoy with Paul is the tremendous amount of creative freedom. It allows me to express myself in ways I wouldn’t in a normal editing situation. This is a long way of saying yes, I would consider being a director if it were the right project, not doing it for the sake of directing. I want to direct something that matters to me.

One of your first big editing jobs was working on Desperate Hours with Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter), who sadly passed away this year. That must have been a hell of a formative experience…

Also I worked with Hal Ashby (Harold & Maude) for three years, a superb editor and director. I learnt a tremendous amount from Hal at a very young age. Michael gave me plenty of opportunities to express myself creatively and I’m very appreciative for that. He was a complicated man, he could be very generous and very difficult at the same time. I’m very grateful for what I learned from him and what he gave me.

What’s coming next down the line?

Paul and I are actually writing together right now, it’s an original idea we’re playing around with. When I hang up with you I’m going to call him up and talk about the day’s work.

Can you tell me anything about it?

I can’t at this point, I’m sworn to secrecy! But I think the piece has a lot of potential and Paul is very excited about it. We’ll see if we get anywhere…

 

This interview first appeared on THN.