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Opinion: Doug Thompson and Daddy Warbucks

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Bourne rebel
By Doug Thompson

The Bourne movies always had an anti-establishment streak, but the latest is practically a rant.
“The Bourne Ultimatum” is not a movie that could have been made in 2002 or 2003, which would have been too soon after 9/11. It reviles the “at any cost” view of fighting terrorism, the assumption that “saving American lives” matters more than saving American principles.
Reading political significance into an action movie is usually foolish. However, this movie makes a central theme of the idea those who scream loudest for a freedom from accountability are often flamboyantly incompetent. They never learn from their mistakes because correcting those mistakes would mean relinquishing some power.
That’s where loner Jason Bourne comes in, beating them repeatedly. It would all be soothing if it weren’t so unbelievable.
Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne is America as many would like to see it: Still young, athletic, ruggedly good looking, absurdly self-reliant and able to beat the stuffing out of anybody. James Bond would die in a fight with this man. Bourne’s basically a good guy who didn’t ask for all this trouble but is quite able to handle it. He doesn’t really understand why people won’t just leave him alone. He is the definitive rugged individual.
This archetype of America is chased throughout the movie by his own government, which is determined to kill him. It ends with the conspiracy being exposed, not with a battle. The climax of the movie involves a fax machine transmitting to, I presume, the London newspaper that had one of its reporters killed in his film.
I sat through 19 minutes of previews to see this movie. Two of those previews were also more movies with the same central theme: There are limits to what we should allow our government to do, even when terrorism is involved. One is titled “Rendition” and the other “Lions for Lambs.”
The world may have changed on 9/11, but it appears to be changing again. The idea that the government is a bigger enemy than terrorists is now the central theme of a Hollywood blockbuster.
Still, Bourne is just an action movie. It happens to be an action movie series I like very much, but it is time for this series to end.
There are just so many times a character can beat the odds and live. Bourne passed that point somewhere in the first movie.
There’s a sequence in this latest movie where Bourne survives an explosion, runs across rooftops, leaps from building to building, crashes through a glass window and beats to death a much younger man who’s just as well trained and done nothing more strenuous than run up a flight of stairs while stalking a girl. Later, Bourne’s really remorseful for killing that guy.
Yes, it’s time to end the series. Topping that sequence would require something comical.
I liked “Ultimatum” much more than the second movie. “The Bourne Supremacy” was all flash and chase. You never thought Bourne was going to die. The only suspense was about how Bourne was going to escape. You worried for Franka Potente’s character in the first movie. You didn’t have time to do that in the second. In this latest movie, lesser mortals face prolonged danger. Two of them die while Bourne is trying to protect them. This very effectively creates suspense that was sorely lacking in “Supremacy.”
It was the first movie, “The Bourne Identity,” that I enjoy the most, the only one I wanted to watch more than once. Bourne’s only real goal was survival, and survival required freedom. His interest in his identity was largely — though not wholly or even mainly — driven by the desire to find out who was trying to kill him. He fought one assassin after another, but was not outmaneuvering whole goon squads. The brave loner struggle wasn’t really plausible, but it didn’t look ridiculous.
The thing I appreciate most about “Ultimatum,” however, is its wicked sense of humor. The scene where Bourne calls the chief villain from his office is priceless, even after seeing it in promos. Watching Homer Simpson go “D’oh!” is very funny. Watching a high-tech Cardinal Richelieu do it is hilarious.

DADDY WARBUCKS

XNA numbers solid and rising
Hooray for the latest numbers out of XNA aka Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport. The May vs. May numbers from ’06 and  ’07 did show an increase, although a modest one. The folks down at Little Rock National are still
scratching their collective heads over why that facility’s numbers actually fell in May. Here boardings rose from 50,924 in 2006 to 52,513 in 2007. A lesser known, but important statistic is that freight handling, also rose from 5,124 pounds in 2006 to 10,144 in 2007. The Fort Smith airport, which receives so much television airtime by KHOG—and for what reason Daddy
W. cannot figure out—saw 8,711 passengers in 2006 during May and fell to 8,473 in May 2007 in May. Go figure.

PERMITS DOWN
It’s no secret that the number of building permits is down – slightly—in NWA. In the Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville market the number of permits in May ‘06 was 357. For May 2007 only 286 were filed. On the other hand in Fort Smith building permits jumped from 57 permits in May ’06, almost doubling in May ’07 to 91.

DEMO CARS
Once again junker, clunker cars litter more street corners in Springdale than anywhere else in NWA, except these days they are there for a purpose. The annual Demolition Derby at Parsons Stadium will crash land at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday night. Once it is over these old demo cars will be towed off major Springdale street corners.

MORE TOWERS
Verizon says it is coming to Fayetteville and it needs four new cell towers to get the kind of coverage it needs. Can you hear the screamin’ of neighborhood activists?  Can you hear them now?

NOT LAST, BUT ALMOST
The annual list of “the state with the lowest number of college graduates” is out and it’s not thank God for Mississippi, but rather, thank God for West Virginia. Arkansas is 49th on the list. West Virginia had 20.2 percent.
Kentucky was just above Arkansas in 48th place with 15.7 percent.

OK CHINA
A new Chinese buffet, OK China, just opened in a small strip center just south of the Northwest Arkansas Mall. Good luck. There are lots of shuttered restaurants in this area now.

PANDA SHAG
The building that formerly housed the old Panda buffet on North College has finally re-opened, but as a Carpet One Store. There will, no doubt, be some bum-fuzzled folks when Razorback football kicks off when those out-of-towners are looking for their favorite old eatin’ joints. Daddy W. always loves going down on Dickson Street and seeing folks looking for the landmark R.O.T.C. – which is now not too far from the mall.

A&P HEAVEN
Local bars and restaurants have to love the 2007 Razorback football schedule—Troy U, Sept. 1, Kentucky Sept. 22 and North Texas on Sept. 29 –that’s three big games here in September. And ditto for October with UT-Chattanooga, Auburn and Florida International, there’s three more full weekends. Plus wedge in a Bikes Blues and BBQ and top off November with South Carolina in town and the cash registers should be cranking. Rumor is that ESPN is looking for a Game Day for the Hogs/Gamecocks
clash. Woo Pig. Tax dollars.

DILLARD’S DIP
The old up and down Dillard’s stock is down these days – way down.
In fact the store’s over the counter stock hit a 52 week low of $27.50 this month. The high was $40.50. Watch it. Daddy predicts that it will go lower.

R.I.P.
The milk from Mountain Springs Creamery in Mountain Springs, near Harrison was sure tasty. Milk from grass-fed dairy cows in old timey glass bottles, but alas, rising corn prices, fuel and the general dairy market has caused the 440-acre operation with its 60 Holstein cows to file for bankruptcy. Bye, bye little dairy farm.

BANKER WARS
Watch this item carefully. The Georgia Banker’s Bank is coming to Arkansas. Why? Well, they apparently see the need for the business here. Arkansas has it’s own verson of a Banker’s Bank—a company that
offers services and tools to local banks—and had had this service since 1990. The Arkansas Banker’s Bank has total assets of $145 million, but the big boys from Georgia, who have been in the business for a quarter of a century have assets of $2.2 billion – yes, BILLION dollars.

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