It’s hard at this point to really peg who The Bourne Legacy is supposed to be for. It reads like a reboot, replacing the star both in the script and on the screen, with a new plot that goes in a marginally new direction with similar concepts. But it’s also still married to the original concept so decisively that it will never be a real jumping on point. Either you’re already deep into the Bourne universe or you might as well stay home: neophytes need not apply.
It’s a shame too because the movie works much better when it’s simply a separate story told on its own. Jeremy Renner fills Matt Damon’s shoes as Aaron Cross, agent of a top secret CIA program called Operation Outcome. Unlike Bourne’s brainwashing training, Cross is controlled through a series of radical genetic pharmaceuticals that keep him stronger, faster, and smarter than he ever would be off the carefully rationed pills.
The plot, however, is totally dependent upon prior Bourne films. The CIA, reeling from Jason Bourne’s rebellion and exposure of all the Treadstone Project stuff in the second movie, decides to scrap every black ops project immediately and violently. So suddenly every Outcome agent is slipped a new pill that kills them, save for Cross who was off the map when the order went down. Realizing he’s been betrayed and cut loose, he goes into survival mode, needing to not only escape his pursuers but find a source of the pills that keep him functioning.
It’s actually a pretty breezy story from writer-director Tony Gilroy, who wrote the first three movies and is deep into this world of jet-setting intrigued and action. Events skip all over the world, signified with the usual ubiquitous text as Cross roams the map and the CIA, led by an officious Edward Norton, seeks to track him down at any cost. The problem is, it’s entirely motivated by stuff that happened two movies ago, so none of it has much in the way of urgency. The entire plot is a big offloaded MacGuffin that carries next to no weight in the actual movie. And if you don’t already know what terms like Treadstone and Blackbriar are, or why Joan Allen’s CIA director character matters? The movie isn’t going to bother spending any time explaining it to you.
It doesn’t help that the love interest, played by Rachel Weisz, manages to kill most of the momentum of the movie when she shows up. She’s a scientist who worked to develop the pills that augmented Cross, so he naturally goes to her to find a way to resupply. Unfortunately, that makes her a target, and she spends much of her screen time in the movie either being awed of Renner’s charisma or hiding/running from various government threats. It’s honestly a role that should be beneath an actress of Weisz’ caliber, and her character’s damsel limpness doesn’t really make Renner seem tougher (he does fine all on his own), it just instead robs their supposed romance of any sort of chemistry. She’s wasted on bad writing, and it’s a pity because she could likely really shine if she had been given something interesting to do.
That said, when it gets away from the mess of its legacy? It ends up being a surprisingly solid action movie. Gilroy takes a lot of credit here, as he directs a film that adopts much of the handheld, shaky-cam stuff that this franchise practically defined for a whole decade and restrains it. It still feels kinetic, but everything is clearly choreographed and sold on the low key brutality of Cross’ efficiency. In fact, it feels just as indebted to a movie like Haywire as it does something like the other Bourne films. There’s a control here that makes the action really shine.
And not enough good things can be said about Renner when it comes to this. Sadly, this movie isn’t going to be his big breakout film, but he conducts himself with his usual intensity. He cuts a more savage figure than Matt Damon ever did, rougher and much more intense, the kind of guy who seems like a threat and feels like he could take people apart without much thought. So when he does the things you’ve come to see, it really sells. There’s nothing very over the top here, minus an amazing late-film chase sequence, but it all works incredibly well. By dialing everything back, the whole movie moves with a confidence that it doesn’t have to go crazy to entertain. And that’s ultimately what the franchise has always brought to the table in its best moments.
So is this reboot successful? I’m not sure. It ends on a really sour, unfinished note—you can practically hear the tacit TO BE CONTINUED announced over the last shot, and I’m sure they’re already gearing up for more. That said, as much of a cop out as that is, I’d happily see Renner do another one of these movies, especially if it’s going to diverge further from the already present mythology. There’s plenty of room in the world for competent, CG-light action-espionage movies, and Bourne by any name manages to be an entertaining time at the movies.
|news||DVD/Blu-Ray: December 11th||staceywi|
|forum||This was severly lacking in the fight scene department||ick_bop|
|news||Box Office: August 27th||staceywi|
|review||Solid, but Unoriginal (3 out of 5)||Sonatar|
|news||In Theaters: August 10th||staceywi|
|news||Release Date for The Bourne Legacy Pushed A Week||staceywi|
|forum||Release Date for The Bourne Legacy Pushed A Week||staceywi|
|news||Trailer 2: The Bourne Legacy||Mackwahl|
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