Why can't movie stars at least try to live up to their on-screen heroism?
Matt Damon is good, really good, as Jason Bourne in the movie series named for his characteran amnesiac government assassin trying to reconstruct his life while former comrades with nasty secrets chase him from continent to continent.
Damon has a vexed scowl that fits the part like a 9 mm pistol and fake passports fit that safety deposit box in Zurich his character somehow doesn't forget in The Bourne Identity, first in the series. It says, "I know I'm about to remember something important about myself, but first I need to outrun, outsmart, outfight, and eventually blow to public smithereens the killer chasing me, from whose twisted and bloodied corpse I'll stalk away wondering if I should know his name."
Bourne has more humanity than you expect in someone who once sneaked up on people at night with murderous intent. Damon flourishes in the contradiction.
So why does hejust before the third thriller in the series opensspoil the illusion by acting in real life like a helpless wimp?
Damon and fellow actor Ben Affleck appear in video clips produced recently by the Center for American Progress Action Fund summoning government to action on energy against villainous "big oil."
Dressed as a gasoline pump, Damon calls on Congress and big oil to "mandate cleaner cars and cleaner fuel." Very un-Bourne-like, he says: "A little bit of corn and a pinch of can-do attitude is all it takes. And kids love it, too. Yippee!"
Affleck, playing an ear of corn, promises to bring down big oil, portrayed with astonishing inaccuracy as bullying ethanol out of the fuel market.
As Bourne, Damon is independence personified, ever able, for example, to make a time bomb just when he needs one out of a toaster and magazine.
As himself, Damon invests his reputation in a pitiful plea for governance entitled Clean My Ride, Flex My Fuel.
This is no reason to skip The Bourne Ultimatum, of course. But Bourne will have to be extra self-reliant to overcome what Damon has done to him.
(Online Aug. 3, 2007; author's e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)