Friday, August 10, 2012

The Bourne Legacy - Movie Review

Who's in It? 

Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton
What's it About? 

Crossing paths with the most recent Bourne incarnation and the result of the previous three, The Bourne Legacy is our introduction to Aaron Cross and his relentless fight to stay enhanced but, more importantly, to stay alive. 

Any Good? 

Brothers Dan and Tony Gilmore take the helm, writing and directing respectively to bring us the fourth instalment of the Bourne franchise. But it doesn't pick up where The Bourne Ultimatum leaves off, more dovetails the events of the previous film, meaning that despite Jason Bourne never physically making an appearance, his shadow is all over this story. 

Instead of doing a Bond type switcheroo with the protagonist when Matt Damon refused to return, we're instead invited to believe that 'There was never just one'. While no one will ever live up to Damon's role in the trilogy for me, if broadening the super spy employee roster means we get Jeremy Renner then I'm all for it. 

They're not crossbows!
Our movie starts in several locations, flitting back and forth between a hirsute Cross (Renner) in the wilds of Alaska Bear Grylls style being hunted by a pack of wolves and medicating himself daily and to the panicked meeting rooms of CIA intelligence pitching a fit about Bourne running amok. While the Bourne trilogy are some of my favourite films, the first third of this movie relies heavily on the assumption that we're über fans, have memorised the previous plots and can pick up the story line immediately. Most of us haven't and don't.   

It's a little hard to follow at first for that very reason but it's safe to say that the Government want their elite, neurally controlled soldiers out of commission i.e. dead before they can reveal any information about the top secret operation they've been running. Sounds familiar, right? This time though we see that there's always been a bajillion (exact figure) similar operations, conveniently opening the door to many, many more movies.

The powers that be led by Colnol Byler (Norton)
Cross manages to escape several imaginative assassination attempts and pull a double cross in order to get to Dr Marta Shearing, the incredibly attractive biochemist that has been treating him/neurally altering him/virally enhancing him/giving him green & blue pills, since he joined the program. His chems are running out and she is his only hope, it's handy then that she's fleeing assassination too and he is hers as well.

Once it picks up the adrenaline pumping action is truly Bourne worthy, it takes a very long while to do that though, focussing more and the detailed plot and layered story lines. The basic premise is essentially the same, the Government are trying to kill the good guy, but this is where Renner brings something different to the table. We're never shown that he's the good guy, we know very little about him, other than he will stop at nothing to get the 'chems' he needs. He's edgier than Bourne, appears colder and makes calculated decisions and kills with little or no remorse. 

While both Renner and Weisz are hugely entertaining in the lead roles, there's never really a connection or relationship development with their characters (I'm guessing they hadn't the time when everyone's trying to shoot, stab and maim 'em) but still, just as the adrenalin starts really pumping, we're given a Bond like ending, far too abruptly.

It's clear that this is just the beginning of a revival of the Bourne series, while it's predecessors were slick, clever and relentless, this outing was more of a slow burn that only picked up pace toward the end. More a Bourne 3 and half but with untold promise. I would have preferred they either waited for a better story or started the action earlier, but nevertheless, it's an enjoyable outing with some of the most amazing chase and action sequences you'll see this year thrown in.

Do yourself a favour and re-watch The Bourne Ultimatum before you head along to 'Legacy', the high should be enough to allow you to hit the ground running.



Unknown said...

Mmm this sounds a bit disappointing but I'm looking forward to it anyway - I love the Bourne movies! xo

Simone said...

Sue, first of all - your reviews are amazeballs. Secondly, I am a HUGE fan of the Bourne Trilogy and would leave my fabulous husband for Matt Damon (sorry babe if you're reading this but, I was up front about this when we first met, ha!)so I don't know if I can even bring myself to watch this. It's just too much! Matt Damon or no one as far as I'm concerned. Jeremy Renner = meh.

Dan O. said...

The ensemble was chosen perfectly, and even though there is no Matt Damon, we still get plenty of great spots from Renner and his performance as Aaron Cross. I look forward to seeing what Gilroy does with this character in the future, but for now, I’m just glad he made it work. Good review Sue.

Rob Jordan said...

I just saw this last night. I watched the Ultimatum prior to going so good advice on that sis. I actually went further back and watched Supremacy also and noticed that the same layering happened from Supremacy to Ultimatum too. This running theme, along with the opening sequence of Legacy does tie the franchise together well if you watch/remember as you said. Running with the same musical score also helps.
The slow pace of Legacy was never actually a good thing for me though. Too long spent on background/layering. The characters were never really developed that well either so not much empathy with them.
Renner was a strange one. I thought he lacked the edge and intensity of Damon. His character seemed a lot more compassionate and soft centered. I think I preferred the ruthless efficiency of Damon's Bourne with his complexity of not knowing who he was but mastering what he did best.
From start to finish this felt like a stepping stone - lots of promise for upcoming outings but ultimately a bit of a waste of my Saturday evening. If this was straight to DVD I would not have been as surprised or disappointed :(

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