He said, ‘I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?’
They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk around in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
Director Tony Gilroy’s new film, as the title suggests, is an extension of the Bourne tales, with Jason Bourne appearing only in photos and in the conversation of the CIA agents out to kill the hero Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner). Same ole fast-paced chases, including one over the rooftops of a slum (this time in Manila), and heart pounding music. The difference is that this time there is a lull between all the unbelievable action antics that allows viewers to think about real life acts and events, such as CIA agent Eric Byer (Edward Norton) declaring of their plan to shut down an illegal program by killing off all of its members, “Morally (it is) indefensible and absolutely necessary.” Also the new hero Aaron Cross calls to account the amoral scientist Dr. Marta Shearling (Rachel Weisz), whose research has been misused by the CIA, to reconsider how her work has contributed to so many deaths. She seeks refuge in the old argument used by scientists working for the Nazis, as well as by those who worked on the American atomic bomb, that her interest is in pure research: she is not responsible for how it is used.
This is the only one of the action series that I would recommend for a group of young adults to watch and discuss.
1. Which of the elements of the action genre do you see in this film?
Fast cars and chases. Chase on a crowded highway. An on foot chase over rooftops. Lots of shooting. The bad guys are poor aimers. Sledgehammer blows and jarring falls that just slightly affect the combatants.
2. How has the CIA (or other government agencies) evolved from the Fifties when they were the Good Guys? Is there any hint of this in the James Bond series?
3. What do you think of Byer’s admission that his plan is “morally indefensible and absolutley necessary” ? Do you think the end justifies the means? How does “national security” usually enter in to anything that a government does to defend itself and its policies?
4. What do you think of Alex Cross attacking Dr. Shearling whose research made possible the secret project? Are there some projects that a scientist should say “No” to? How is she like Cain, refusing to assume any responsibility for others?