One moment of quiet solitude stands out amongst all the kinetic action sequences and globetrotting theatrics that have defined the Jason Bourne trilogy up to this point: a man’s lifeless body floats in the ocean, captured in low angle by a submerged camera and backlit by brilliant moonlight. It’s a shot that represents the fragility of this nimble and powerful character, who so often seems superhuman. The Bourne Legacy, the fourth installment in the series, begins with this very same pictorial, except the image feels frozen in time, even more somber and poetic. As if to linger on the franchise’s past before sending it in a new direction, director Tony Gilroy (who has had a hand in scripting each Bourne) references the seemingly lifeless body before revealing it to be very much alive, a shirtless swimmer in mid-stroke.
Since his audacious gangster film debut City of God made him an instant art house sensation in 2002, director Fernando Meirelles has tackled one heavy subject after another in what has felt like a desperate attempt to be taken seriously as an artist. In turn, Meirelles’s films have been defined by a troubling self-seriousness that has only gotten worse with time, including to some extent his mostly riveting drama The Constant Gardener. This strain of pretentiousness finally reaches critical mass in the director’s latest multi-character drama 360, a meandering “serious” mosaic that tries to make sense of the world’s many social ills by flooding the frame with pedantic assertions and overt symbolism about human nature.