Jason Bourne (July 29) — After the spy franchise’s original star exited, producers got a cheaper actor to fill in for one underperforming movie before luring the original guy back for an adventure featuring a car chase on the Las Vegas strip. Very few people regard the result — the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever — as a highlight of that series.
The third Paul Greengrass–directed Bourne thriller, for which Matt Damon has returned after a nine-year absence, will almost certainly be better than that, given the track record of all involved. Still, its similarities to the circumstances under which Sean Connery left and returned to the mother of all spy series are amusing. Damon claims the new film channels the geopolitical insecurities of the Wikileaks era; the trailers are selling his motorbike skills and his knockout left hook. What was good enough for Steve McQueen is good enough for Will Hunting, apparently.
Equity (July 29) — This Wall Street morality play earned strong notices at Sundance in January. Written by Amy Fox, produced by Alysia Reiner and Sarah Megan Thomas (both of whom are in the cast) and directed by Meera Manon, the picture stars Anna Gunn, whose contributions to the greatness of Breaking Bad were too often overshadowed by that series’ male stars. High finance is a non-traditional milieu for a project with women in all the key creative roles, but this is no celebration of empowerment. Those who’ve seen Equity found its casual depiction of influential ladies being just as venal and duplicitous as influential men to be one of its rewards. The female-led Ghostbusters is getting all the attention, but a distaff Wall Street sounds like an altogether more intriguing equation, no?
Sausage Party (Aug. 12) — This is the summer’s only computer-animated, R-rated survival adventure comedy. Directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon are animation veterans, but the sensibility comes courtesy of primary screenwriters Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who dreamed up the anthropomorphic-foodstuffs scenario wherein the edible residents of a supermarket learn what horrors await after their dreams of being purchased and brought home by a customer actually get fulfilled. So, Frank, a sausage voiced by Rogen, and Brenda, the hot dog bun (Kristen Wiig) with whom he is in a relationship, try to cheat destiny. It’ll be plankton to the whale that is Pixar’s Finding Dory, of course. Even so, if you enjoyed Babe but wished it had been much, much filthier, then this should do, Pig.
Southside With You (Aug. 26) — Another Sundance entry, writer/director Richard Tanne’s feature debut has a nervy premise: It’s a fictionalized account of Barack and Michelle Obama’s first date, in the summer of 1989, when they were both in their 20s and working for the corporate law firm Sidley Austin. As played by Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter, the future