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Another DVD in husbands stocking with the Bourne Legacy in the Bourne series. First we had Bourne Identity, then Bourne Supremacy and then Bourne Ultimatum, all staring Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. This fourth instalment was Legacy, starring Jeremy Renner as our hero. All the stories are based on Robert Ludlums books. I bought my copy from Amazon several weeks ago and its still the same £5 price with free delivery.
There was some familiar faces in this movie, the cast members included;
Jeremy Renner - Kenneth James Kitsom/Aaron Cross
Rachel Weisz - Dr. Marta Shearing
Edward Norton - Eric Byer
Stacy Keach - Mark Turso
Dennis Boutsikaris - Terrence Ward
Oscar Isaac - Outcome 3
Joan Allen - Pamela Landy
Albert Finney as Dr. Albert Hirsch
David Strathairn - Noah Vosen
Scott Glenn - Ezra Kramer
Donna Murphy - Dita
Released in August 2012, this film was Directed by Tony Gilroy and produced by Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley, Jeffrey M. Weiner and Ben Smith. It lasts 135 minutes. Its rated as 12 as contains moderate violence.
We first find Kitson floating in water, he then dives to retrieve an object in the water and when he returns to the surface, he is in the freezing mountains on some kind of mission, travelling through dangerous terrain until he reaches a mountain shack. The story flicks between what we have already seen and know about Treadstone and what is happening to Kitson and its quickly apparent how Kitson fits into the story.
The story is high energy, exciting, had the feeling of the previous Bourne movies which was surprising, as it could so easily have disappointed. It also truly fit in with the series, which again I think was a true accomplishment. The "bourne" music / theme again heightened the build up / energy of the film as well as tying nicely into the previous films.
Renner and Weisz are clearly at the top of the game, their characters believable. There was a few times that I thought, surely if they are that good at "hiding" they would have done ... but it didn't detract from my viewing.
I notice that Amazon reviews give this film a four star rating, which I will match. Its well worth buying if you liked the previous films or thriller / action movies.
There is rumour of another Bourne movie, again starring Renner and I will definitely purchase if and when released.
Ever since 'The Bourne Ultimatum' was released, moviegoers have pined for a sequel, only to be disappointed by Matt Damon's exit of the role due to director Paul Greengrass' decision not to make another.
Milking on the success of the franchise, the studio was quick to advance Tony Gilroy, who was the co-screenwriter of the first three movies to director and to create a story in the world of Bourne, just without Bourne himself, in 'The Bourne Legacy'.
Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is an agent of an advanced program called Operation Outcome, where military soldiers have their genes altered to become stronger, faster, more alert, less emotional etc in order to become better assets for the US defense.
When Jason Bourne exposes Treadstone and Blackbriar, Col. Eric Byer (Edward Norton) concocts a plan to hide the other operations at hand- by wiping out all the Outcome agents.
Out of Chems (medication to sustain his life), Cross returns to the US, just as a shooting takes place in the Chem labs, belonging to Operation Outcome, with the sole survivor being Dr Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz). As part of the wipe out, agents are sent to kill Marta at her house, who is rescued by Cross.
Together, they must evade capture and Marta, in exchange for protection, offers to help Cross viral out his dependency on the Chems.
The plot and pace took a while to build up as we relish in the aftermath of the Treadstone/Blackbriar leak interspersed with footage of Aaron Cross' soul-searching journey in Alaska. I did like how the movie opened with Cross underwater, mirroring the ending of The Bourne Ultimatum. I thought that was the most symbolic the film got.
After a lot, and I mean A LOT, of irrelevant location hopping, which only confused the story, not aided it, the pace really started to pick up when the shooting takes place at the chem lab, a gripping a tense scene which reminded me of the kitchen scene in Jurassic Park. From here on, the pace is slick and the action is riveting.
Although Cross trumps everything they send at him, I really did like the action sequences in Manila, especially the motorcycle scene. I also have to say that there are some really quite gasp-enducing fight moves that are entailled as well as one mighty kick from Rachel Weisz.
I found it difficult to follow all the jargon and the politics but I think I got the general gist. That aside, it still made for a great action film, but I might need to do a Bourne marathon to fully grasp the situation.
The climax and the ending was action packed but felt slightly too easy and leaves you disappointed. Oh, that's it? was the initial reaction.
Jeremy Renner- Aaron Cross
Rachel Weisz- Dr. Marta Shearing
Edward Norton- Retired Col. Eric Byer, USAF
Also stars Scott Glen, Stacy Keach and Joan Allen.
Critically acclaimed Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Avengers, Mission Impossible:Ghost Protocol) takes on yet another action role and here he fulfills all the physical requirements- strong action sequences and stylish (he does look good in a leather jacket).
Whilst the movie tries to give him some depth with flashbacks, there isn't enough of it and more emotion could have been written into his character.
Rachel Weisz was hit and miss. I liked her in the tense and serious scenes, but when it came to the action near the end, she kind of broke character and became a bit ditsy. The whole motorbike sequence reminded me of that in 'Knight and Day', bringing more comedic value than anything else.
I'd wish there was more of Joan Allen as she was critical to the events of the last movie and using her to explain and set the scene for this one would've saved the unnecessary and confusing location hopping.
'The Bourne Legacy' makes do with what it was left and manages to place Aaron Cross believably in the Bourne Universe. With reference (though not enough in my opinion) to Jason Bourne every now and then, Aaron Cross never seems to make the connections and his motives never align with Bourne's, even though there are bout after bout of agents hunting them down. You would think the chems would heighten his IQ, wouldn't you?
That said, the movie is packed full of action and some slick sequences, but clouded with jargon tries to give more depth, but ultimately just loses you.
Despite mixed reviews, the commercial success of Legacy has led to a confirmation of a Bourne 5. Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass are rumoured to be interested in the project (what? where was this a few years ago!) and if so, will bring Jason Bourne back. But what happens to Aaron Cross?
It is unthinkable that the two would become lifelong allies, but also irresponsible to ignore Cross. Do they kill him off early in Bourne 5? Will they offer him a cameo? Are we expected to believe the ending of Legacy will be the end for Cross and Shearing?
Whatever happens, I surely hope they respect the plot of Legacy and integrate that into Bourne 5 so that it does feel like 'one' Bourne universe and that they don't stupidly write off Aaron Cross- maybe he goes into hiding and comes back at a critical moment, or he is referenced throughout the movie at the very least.
Expect news of a Bourne sequel by the end of this year.
UPDATE: Apparently, the fifth movie is moving forward with Jeremy Renner...
I am in love. His name is Jeremy. I first saw him in 28 Weeks Later and thought I loved him then, but now he's gone all brooding and stormy-eyed and shoots people a lot. At Christmas, please send him, in a bow and maybe some strategically-placed wrapping paper (family show, folks), for my enjoyment in 2014.
Until then, I shall be a very good girl. Afterwards, I'm promising nothing.
Yours in very advanced festivity,
***THE BOURNE LEGACY***
*Film Only Review*
The Bourne Legacy could be interpreted as a blatant attempt to cash in on the success of the Matt Damon-starring trilogy of films which basically came in when Bond was being all limp and naff and couldn't have pulled a girl with a martini if his life relied on it, and unexpectedly kicked the nation's action movie fans into touch and made them fall in love with cinema again. Because now, Matt Damon is all mega-starry and no longer best known for being a puppet in Team America that is just about capable of saying his own name - so he's far too busy to do the next Bourne movie.
The solution? Script a movie that takes place roughly at the same time as Bourne himself was last seen hightailing it around Manhatten on some important spy / anti-spy business and hire Jeremy Renner to do the action stuff.
For this, I am eternally grateful.
***THE BOURNE STORY***
Right. For the love of toast, don't read this if you haven't seen the first three Bourne movies and want to do so. Because in them are many examples of how to violently kill someone and you will probably want to do that to me.
Basically this is the fourth film in the series - the first three starred Matt Damon (sorry, in my head I still can't hear that in any other way than the Team America puppet's voice so you'll have to excuse the giggles) and we all based on the novels of Robert Ludlum. Bourne was a CIA agent who has monumental memory loss and ends up going up against the Government faculties who got him in that state in the first place. Not reliant on massive CGI effects, the films were really decent action movies and attracted a huge fanbase, so you can see the attraction of a fourth outing.
*Minor spoilers alert - unfortunately I would struggle to tell you anything about the film as these are quite fundamental - but if you really don't want to know then skip this bit!*
Jeremy Renner appears, bearded and looking a bit cold, up a mountain somewhere waving a firey stick at some wolves. He's Aaron Cross, another CIA operative who is part of a government experimental programme involving medical enhancement of human capabilities.
Problem is, Jason Bourne has been running around for a bit making life difficult for these suited dudes with their Government programmes with cool names, so they decide to shelve the lot - including the people in the programme. This very nearly takes out a dazzlingly youthful looking Rachel Weisz (also sporting a remarkably effective American accent) as a doctor in a lab shooting - but she's still a marked woman. Cross, being all manly and Jeremy Renner shaped and generally quite distracting, interrupts the second attempt on her life with the intention of using her to save his own back and also maintain his enhanced abilities. She admits she can help him - but they're on the wrong side of the planet and the tiny, insignificant organisation known as the American Government wants them both dead.
Cue the high jinks, fights, chases and shoot outs. And Jeremy Renner. Oh, Jeremy, you beautiful thing.
Did I mention Jeremy Renner?
***BUT SERIOUSLY, HE REALLY IS...***
Rachel Weisz as The Woman People Keep Shooting At & Edward Norton as Stressed Government Dude Who Sits In Meeting Rooms With Weird Lighting Set Ups and Glares At People A Lot (And Has Gone A Bit Grey).
Actually yes - I never saw this at the cinema as I did originally think it was probably just a way of making money (although once I'd heard of Renner's inclusion I was tempted - come on, I'm only female). But having seen it on DVD via Mr Rarr's Love Film account, I have to say it was a nice bit of escapism.
Like the previous Bourne films, this is a proper action movie. People get shot at / ride bikes at high speed after other people / break the necks of people who would have worn red shirts if they'd been in Star Trek. There's subterfuge. There's a dashing male lead (I might have mentioned that) and a (ridiculously lucky) female opposite. I did feel genuine tension and the acting from all three of the main characters is as sterling as you would expect from them. Weisz in particular was remarkable - Mr Rarr and I genuinely did have a "is that...no, it's not...yes it is, look at those eyebrows, no its not she's too young, and that's a real American accent....bloomin' heck, it is as well" conversation about whether or not it was really her. As a voice actress, the UK should be proud, and she looks remarkably young as well. All this contributes to making her less recognisable as "intellectual British actress Rachel Weisz", and more so as "severely put-upon American doctor with a blimmin' great Government trying to bump her off" - all good.
Renner - teenage crush asides, well, aside (and I'm old enough to know better) - is a great action hero in this. First of all, he looks the part (and then some) and also he has the right brooding intensity and whilst it is not blatant there is the suggestion of a relationship developing between the two characters even though originally he was basically hell-bent on kidnapping her to save his own skin - the development of this is really quite subtle and never comes across as clichéd, just a development of the two characters understanding their situation and that they are united against it.
Rachel Weisz is in my opinion one of the gems of the British film industry and as ever she is brilliant as well as stunningly gorgeous, whilst Edward Norton is well cast even though it is a far-removed shout from his Fight Club days. The supporting cast are all well-selected and do their jobs well.
In terms of pace, balance and style this is lacking in very little - there's not much by way of humour but to go down that route would be not only not in keeping with the previous Bourne movies but also would in my opinion be following Bond in its slightly clichéd Brosnan days, so I think playing it straight was definitely the right path. Also being a 12 certificate, it is not blatantly aggressively violent, so the fact that I didn't realise it was such a low-certifcation movie gives credit to the style and finish with which it is filmed - it has the feel of a really highly-produced action movie and as such fits in well with the Bourne series. The lack of CGI is a blissful thing - too many films rely upon it and to have some proper human action films in production is great.
In short I really enjoyed this, I found it engrossing throughout its duration and would definitely watch it again - indeed, I've told Mr Rarr to hold on to it so Mother Rarr and I can watch it together next week. This is in part because it means I can drool furtherly over the delightful Jeremy Renner, but this is not my only motivation - a truly enjoyable action movie with some great acting and not the cynical money-making exercise that I expected at all.
***THE USEFUL STUFF***
Duration 135 minutes
Available via Amazon from £7 in a variety of formats
Produced by Universal Studios
Directed by Tony Gilroy
After a break of a few years, I figured that the intense confusion and paranoia that surrounds the series of films based on Robert Ludlum's uberspy Jason Bourne would have dissipated enough for a different angle to have a positive impact. Cue The Bourne Legacy, based on the book of the same name written by Eric Van Lustbader, Ludlum having passed away but the character warranting further development. Despite having read a number of Ludlum books, I'd stopped at The Bourne Ultimatum and was actually disappointed that the international elements of the books hadn't made their way into the films, which were similar only in name.
As a result, I'd seen or heard virtually nothing about this film, only finding out that Jeremy Renner was the main player a couple of days before actually watching it. In fact, I spent the first half of the film thinking that Renner was the new guy playing Bourne, without realising that the concept of the film is that these events are about a separate thing entirely, the content being sparked off by the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, the link stopping here.
The film starts off with two strands. The first is of Renner as special agent Aaron Cross, one of a number of super spies being experimented on by a strand of the government. Crossing some snow covered wilderness, he comes across another similar agent just before they and the program they are part of is chosen for extermination as a result of Jason Bourne blowing the whole conspiracy exposure wide open. Cross escapes and manages to find his way to one of the leading scientists on the experiment, the supposedly innocent Dr Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz). Together they try and flee those trying to kill them as they try and work out exactly what is going on.
The second strand is as we follow Ed Norton's character, retired Colonel Eric Byer, who is heading the team looking into what is going on, where the leak and damage is coming from and trying to stem the flow and protect the government. He is basically chasing Cross and Shearing and this is quite intense, but it also allows the government officials to fling their weight around and get some screen time, actors such as Scott Glenn and Stacy Keach flexing their Hollywood experience and enabling the stereotypical heavyweight leaning to come into the film.
What I liked was the action element. The Bourne films have always been good at giving some high octane fight scenes, and this is no exception. However, the clean and crisp fight scenes with Matt Damon in the first film have sunk to the lower depths of the close ups and extreme fights that this film promotes, as an extension of the content in Ultimatum. It works to a certain extent and the action is enjoyable to watch, but it needs to be backed up by a solid plot to provide emphasis and a point to it, which I'm not convinced this one does.
My negativity stems from suspended belief, and the way this is like an offshoot of another film's content isn't actually helped by the way that nothing new actually transpires because of it. It's just like an excuse to give some more action, another rogue agent, some more running, and another government cover up with an expert retired chaser getting involved. It's Hollywood hype that is so Americanised it would have my father in law tutting and shaking his head at the screen in annoyance. And this is what irks me somewhat too. I saw a tweet earlier this morning regarding the latest US conspiracy government action films, 'Olympus Has Fallen' and 'White House Down', both of which feature attacks on the White House. The tweet wondered what it would be like to have the same thing happen here in the UK: 'Downign Street Burgled' just doesn't have the same impact, does it? But then this is because there is rarely any exaggeration when it comes to things like this. Government conspiracies here usually entail politicians getting their hands caught in pies they shouldn't be in, while those in the US are always portrayed as having military and violent outcomes with supersoldiers coming out of the woodwork to rebel, or some expert required to save the world. 'Universal Soldier' and 'Armageddon' spring to mind!
So, over exaggeration and embellishment are the name of the game, and no matter how intellectual they try to make this film seem, it will never escape the labelling of Hollywood hype, even if the filming never went near LA. To me, it seems a pointless film, remaking countless government conspiracies with different characters and a different director. There's nothing new here, and to be honest I was bored. Had this been the first film I'd ever seen of its genre, I'd think it okay. Some interesting action scenes, as I've mentioned, but the overall plot just average and not really surprising. They try to throw some twists in here and there, but really you could switch off for half of this and still be able to sum it up relatively easily. I wasn't impressed, and actually found it hard to maintain my concentration throughout the film. I'm just hoping that the next Robert Ludlum comes close to being turned into a film, it has nothing to do with Jason Bourne. It's already been way overdone.
About the film
The Bourne Legacy is an action film that was released in 2012. It is a part of The Bourne series of films which are based on the books by Robert Ludlum. However, while the first book is called The Bourne Legacy, the film does not follow the same plot. The film has a rating of 12A and a run time of 135 minutes.
The Bourne Legacy runs alongside events from The Bourne Ultimatum, although this film does not follow Jason Bourne. Instead, the film follows Aaron Cross, a member of Operation Outcome. The US Defence Department runs a program where field operatives take a series of pills which enhance their metal and psychical abilities. While Cross is completing as assignment in Alaska, he runs out of pills and begins to worry when he makes his target and isn't given anymore.
A reporter in England is assassinated due to writing an expose on other operations Treadstone and Blackbriar. As these two operations are publicly exposed, retired US Air Force Colonel, Eric Byer is enlisted to help out - to fix all of the problems. He believes that the only real way out of this mess, with researchers of Outcome and Treadstone being seen at public events together, is to kill every single operative under Operation Outcome. However, Cross does not die and thinking he needs more medication, visits the lab that he usually visits. Dr. Marta Shearing, the sole survivor of a colleague gone mad shooting is the only answer to Cross' questions and with her in tow, the chase is on to find more meds and manage stay out of the way of the people trying to kill him.
Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross/Kenneth Kitsom
Rachel Weisz as Dr. Marta Shearing
Edward Norton as Eric Byer
Joan Allen as Deputy Director Pamela Landy
David Strathairn as Noah Vosen
Albert Finney as Dr. Albert Hirsch
Scott Glenn as Ezra Kramer
Louis Ozawa Changchien as LARX-03
Oscar Isaac as Outcome 3
Donna Murphy as Dita
Dennis Boutsikaris as Terrence Ward
Stacy Keach as Mark Turso
Zeljko Ivanek as Dr. Donald Foite
What I thought
I loved the original three Bourne films but was really unsure about whether or not to watch this one. I loved Matt Damon as Jason Bourne and wasn't sure what the story of this one would be considering that Jeremy Renner had the lead role. I have tried to write the plot synopsis as simply as possibly because quite frankly, this film was quite confusing at times. However, it actually started off quite slow, spending quite a bit of time in Alaska with Aaron Cross, even though there was no idea of why he was there for a long time. I also haven't seen The Bourne Ultimatum for a long time, with it being released in 2007 so I couldn't remember any of the plot from that film but you don't really need to have seen it anyway.
There is a lot to get your head around in this film, which is why I ended up being quite confused. Operation Outcome is all about science and medication which makes field operatives stronger in every way possible. However, instead of just saying this, there is a lot of scientific mumbo jumbo being thrown around all over the place and I didn't really know the difference between Outcome, Treadstone and Blackbriar. Because of all of this information being thrown at you, you do really need to pay attention. I was doing my hair and make-up while watching this film so no wonder I lost what was going on easily. I think once you get your head around what is going on and why the government want all of the field operatives dead, it is pretty easy going from there.
While Jeremy Renner is nowhere near as good as Matt Damon, he does an impressive job playing Aaron Cross. His character is an interesting one as he is the only one of the field operatives to not die but as well, he really doesn't want other people running his life and having such a control over everything. While I have seen Renner in films such as The Avengers and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, I think he was best in this film by far. He plays an action character really well, does a good job in the fight and chase scenes but was also a likeable guy.
In other roles are Rachel Weisz as Dr. Marta Shearing and Edward Norton as Eric Byer. While I normally love Weisz, she was a bit disappointing in this film. As a doctor with such expert knowledge, working in an extremely high security job, she was so weak and annoying for a large amount of the film. I was expecting her to be a much stronger character. However, her time with Cross does toughen her up a lot and make her a better and more likeable character. Edward Norton is someone who can do no wrong in my eyes and he is wonderful as Eric Byer, a no nonsense, get to the point kind of guy. Now he is a strong character willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done and Norton does so with great conviction. He isn't likeable, due to his job, but I could also understand the situation he was in and why he made certain decisions.
The Bourne Legacy is a really exciting and fast paced film. While some of it is extremely clichéd where it could have been more original, it was still enjoyable to watch. I wish it had been a little more simple to follow though.
Thoroughly enjoying the previous Bourne films, I downloaded The Bourne Legacy to watch on holiday on my iPad. It was a film I would have preferred seeing on the big screen but I didn't get the chance unfortunately. Paying £9.99 it was an okay price for the standard edition while the HD download would have set me back £13.99, I really didn't notice that the quality could have been any better so wouldn't recommend paying the extra £4.
Timings wise this film runs alongside The Bourne Ultimatum so references are made to Jason Bourne throughout. This is made quite clear in the introduction when we are shown footage of the incident in Kings Cross Station, which is shown as live news footage. In this film, while we are given snippets of information about Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) the film actually follows Aaron Cross (played by Jeremy Renner from Hurt Locker) who, like Bourne, is deep undercover in operation Treadstone. When the reporter writes an expose, it is decided that the ops should be shut down, permanently. Unfortunately for Cross, he is the Ops.
At first, I found the film quite slow. For about 15 or so minutes I didn't have a clue what was going on really. I remembered bits from the previous films, but I think that The Bourne Legacy has a certain expectation of its viewer to have remembered key information or to have recently watched the previous films. Given that the last instalment, The Bourne Ultimatum, was released five years ago in 2007, I would imagine that like me, a lot of viewers haven't seen the film since then and so their information will be limited and things may not initially make as much sense as they are perhaps intended to. Once I got the general 'premise' of the film, I did find that things began to click into place but there was a lot of science talk in the film which I would guess the majority of the general public (like me!) would find a little difficult to follow in places.
A lot of the film is pretty decent cat and mouse with some nifty little special effects and stunt work thrown in, but would you expect anything else from the Bourne franchise? There are plenty of 'oh come on, as if' scenes, but I think most film viewers accept this is part and parcel of most action / thrillers now and as long as they are shot well, they are accepted.
Stepping into difficult shoes, I was apprehensive of how we would take to the new lead role when we have all come to know that Bourne goes hand in hand with Matt Damon. Renner actually does a pretty good job and I settled happily into the film with him as the lead character. Renner is pretty well known for his role in The Hurt Locker which saw him rise to fame, but he has also had roles in big budget movies such as Avengers and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. I think he was perfect for this role and although well known, he is a relative newcomer which I like. It wouldn't have worked if they had cast someone unknown, or equally someone such as Tom Cruise who seems hot property at the moment (again!).
Apart from Renner, the film stays pretty loyal with much of the big characters from the previous films. Edward Norton returns and he is my golden boy of movies, I love him! Rachel Weisz is a bit of totty for the guys despite playing a bit of a wet Dr. She is slightly sickly in this but I think it's what the role needed rather than Weisz being a bit of a drip. Apparently the Director had a field day when Weisz's husband (none other than Daniel Craig) visited on set in Manila, and the Director had Bond and Bourne (or his replacement nonetheless) on the same set!
Story wise, the film once it gets going, is pretty easy to follow in this respect and as I mentioned before is a classic cat and mouse. Nothing heavy going and it isn't quite as sophisticated as the first three but it's still a pretty decent watch and really enjoyable too.
Star - Jeremy Renner
Genre - Spy Thriller
County - USA
Certificate - 15
Run Time - 135 minutes
Blockbusters - £3.50 per night
Amazon - £10.00 DVD (£15.00Blue Ray)
Which ever way you cut it the Bourne movies blew Bond out of the water and changed the spy thriller genre for ever, and for the better. With Tom Cruise and the Mission Impossible films squeezing 007s other flank and MGM nearly going bust the Cubby Broccoli Estate needed the wake up call, the brilliant Daniel Craig a direct consequence. As handsome as Pierce Brosnan is he wasn't rough and ready enough and so Matt Damon's intelligent, physical, and powerful performance as Jason Bourne was exactly what the Bond audience wanted. The Bourne people knew it and even used the same initials, JB, the MattDamon/PaulGreengrass/TonyGilroy trilogy superb stuff. But after three films Damon seemed to have had enough and chose to make The Adjustment Bureau instead, and with no Damon ,Paul Greengrass also walked away, although they have both hinted they may return at a later date, the Bourne Legacy script loose enough to let them back in at that later date, an exciting thought. There could not be higher respect for the potential threat of the fourth Bourne movie when they chose to cast Miss Daniel Craig, the stunning Rachael Weis, to be the leading lady in the Bourne Legacy, she inviting her new husband to the set for the day, Bond and Bourne together at last to stare each other down.
So, without Damon and Greengrass onboard it was clearly going to a daunting prospect to keep it all going with enough credibility and expectation to please the fans, this franchise not like Bond in that you can just pick another actor to play 007 and we all pretend we didn't notice. Bourne 4 would have to be more like the Terminator films, Christian Bale tempered into the complicated timeline with a blacksmiths hammer and earning the fans trust during the film by quietly metamorphosing into their hero John Conner, as he has done outstandingly with Bruce Wain in the Batman films. But when Jeremy Renner was announced to be the main man in the Bourne movie I was a little unsure. He doesn't have Damon's cerebral cache and always looks small on screen, three inches short of the traditional six-foot leading action man hero by his stats. I didn't get why The Hurt Locker won six Oscars and thought his lead performance there was bombastic and irritating. I would have a long list of names ahead of him if I was a studio head and casting Bourne 4. Sadly my top two in Clive Owen and Vincent Cassels had already been killed off by Jason Bourne in the first three films so that's why I'm not a studio head.
It was decided to keep the directing duties in-house and to promote up Tony Gilroy, the Bourne trilogy screenplay and script writer, bringing in his little brother Dan to co-write, a sensible move as they know the feel and pace of the movie the fans want to see in any sort of attempted hybrid. Gilroy decided to go with a direct sequel by pulling back the curtain to reveal a wider conspiracy with Treadstone and Blackbriar etc, allowing familiar and reassuring faces from the trilogy to be constantly referenced and overlapped, including the absent Jason Bourne, Jeremy Renner's, also an agent on the Treadstone Program, skillfully weaved into what went on and what will go on that way. The actual Bourne Legacy is somewhat of an irony in that he is not actually allowed one, just the occasional passport photo all you see of him in this film.
Jeremy Renner... as Aaron Cross
Rachel Weisz as..... Dr. Marta Shearing
Edward Norton.... as Eric Byer
Joan Allen..... as Deputy Director Pamela Landy
David Strathairn.... as Noah Vosen
Albert Finney..... as Dr. Albert Hirsch
Scott Glenn..... as Ezra Kramer
Oscar Isaac as Outcome 3
Louis Ozawa...... LARX-03
Donna Murphy.... as Dita
Stacy Keach...... as Mark Turso
Zeljko Ivanek....as Dr. Donald Foite
Corey Stoll..... as Vendel
David Asmar as..... Evan Pines
'What we do is morally indefensible but absolutely necessary'
We are introduced to emotionless Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), out survival training in the brutal but spectacular snowy landscapes of Alaska as part of 'Operation Outcome', the development of super soldiers through a covert US government project dabbling in genetics, taking some sort of medication to keep up his performance. This particular mission is to get across some tough mountainous terrain in a set amount of time to reach a log cabin to re-supply.
After beating the record, Outcome Agent number 5 (Cross) clearly has the potential to be the next Jason Bourne, but a person agents like Cross don't know anything of as the likes of Bourne have long since graduated to the next level, Treadstone, and in Bourne's case, Blackfriar, professional and off the grid assassins. At the cabin is another Outcome Agent, number 3(Oscar Isaac), more admin than fighting man after being seemingly demoted for failure somewhere along the line. Here Cross can lay his head down for a bit and resupply on his meds and be reassigned.
We know from the Bourne Ultimatum that the 'do do' has hit the fan and the CIA are facing indictment in Congress for their illicit programs, the inquisition going on right now and so the CIA deciding to terminate all assassin programs, including the agents, and those of Operation Outcome, meaning a drone is dispatched deep into the Alaskan forest to ping a rocket into that cabin, Cross getting out just in time, agent number three not so lucky.
Twigging his fete he is soon on the run with his head down, working out that the scientist on the program may also be terminated, attractive Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) his only connection to the outside world and so worth saving, the doc who would take his blood draws back in the secret lab. When it breaks in the news that she is indeed a target he sets out to rescue her, not so much because she is a woman but because she can get him the 'meds' he is now addicted to, the lab infecting them with some sort of live viruses to induce genetic performance improvement. But she can't supply him here and now and so they have to go to Manila where the pills were originally created, Cross's condition deteriorating fast and this with the whole of the CIA on their back, led by the tenacious Eric Byer (Edward Norton), the head honcho of the black ops programs, and the most to lose if these two live, the plan to blame Pamela Landy for this 'do do' storm and wipe everything else....for now.
If you guys can put aside the fact that Matt Damon is not in the movie you can still enjoy it, one too many critics being lazy and judging this against the previous trilogy. They miss the point completely. Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass have gone but we still want more and so prepared to give a little to bed the news guy in. It's like accepting the new Doctor Who. I think Jason Bourne's vulnerabilities and enigmatic past we loved about the first Bourne movies through Damon's brilliant performance will be revealed later in a similar style for Renner's character, that will hopefully make for an excellent fifth film and all will be forgotten. The plot really could go anywhere from now on. Yes this film felt samey with those wobbly cameras and the portentous atmospheric soundtrack and the now cliché cool chase through the side streets and over the roof tops with the token 'totty clinging on for dear life but you quickly drop back into the Bourneology groove. You want this drug and this is the shot in the arm you needed.
Again I have to say enjoyed it and quite surprised I would, Gilroy able to keep enough plates spinning. Its reassuring for fans how Gilroy weaves Renner's identity and reason for being in the film by making him a prototype to Bourne on the same super soldier programs, a cute mechanism to knead in the previous narrative by keeping alive characters like Pamela Landy and the familiar CIA top brass, familiar anxious faces always reminding you through the film of what went before and what is to come. If the Bourne Legacy cut itself of completely to what went before it would have been too big a risk for me to watch it.
The fans were as reticent as the critics and for its $125 million budget it has done $275 million back, almost break even for the expectations of a $100 million dollar plus action franchise movie as the external publicity bill alone for this would have been huge, especially as Renner was co-plugging MI4: Ghost protocol on DVD when Bourne4 hit the cinemas, Renner also likely to pick up the star Ethan Hunt spy role when Tom Cruise decides to stand down from that particular franchise, that film almost an audition for this one.
In summing up I would say just rent it out and give it a chance. Nothing will touch the original trilogy and so don't ask it to. Yes it feels like a shameless cash in at times, the Bourne people admitting that originally there was only ever going to be three films. But the original author Robert Ludlum wrote more Bourne stories so why not keep it going the way the Bond has? If you're still unsure then I have listed some Blockbuster Video vouchers below you can print off and see the film for a quid or two, saving big bucks. And with brilliant Batman film out and others like Spiderman and 'Ted', the five films for one pound each deal below is well worth printing off, 30 days to see those films from the moment you enjoy the offer that expires at the end of January. They are universal barcodes so not limited supply and definitely work at all high street stores.
BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO DEALS
Imdb.com - 6.8/10.0 (57,739 votes)
Metacritc.com - 61% critic's approval rating
Rottentomatos.com -56% critic's approval rating
The Guardian -'Gilroy hasn't locked down every last task and stumbles at the end, but he keeps an awful lot spinning for an awfully long time'.
Time Out -'Shares crucial DNA with the earlier films but is drawn from the shallower end of the gene pool'.
Film4 -Renner's Aaron Cross races to get his fix, in what seems like an overblown metaphor for the ideal viewer's addiction to chasing the Bourne dragon
The Utah Times - 'Nicely overlaps the previous films while carving a name of its own'
The LA times - 'There's a lot to like about The Bourne Legacy, but it's hard not to feel a little worried that the rich complexity of Ludlum's past work might be lost in the transition-and that's a legacy that really needs to be upheld'.
Fox News - 'Though the weakest of the series, "The Bourne Legacy" is not a throw-away action film. It's one of the best thrillers of the year and a sure bet on the future success of the "Bourne" franchise'.
Indie Wire - 'Renner) has the required intensity and physicality to make his character-a highly-trained, genetically enhanced undercover agent-completely believable'.
The New York Times -'The Bourne Legacy exists only as a failed attempt to squeeze more juice out of a once-reputable franchise, which is hardly a legacy worth leaving'.
The Times -'Everything Gilroy and crew concoct only serves to mock the excellence and passion with which Greengrass delivered his films'.
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There are some film trilogies that should never have seen a fourth film made; the Indiana Jones franchise being a prime recent example. It was a pretty decent trilogy, but the fourth film was just too far separated in both time and content from the others to fit in properly and the result just cheapened the franchise. On the reverse, the more modern reboot to the "Die Hard" franchise worked quite well and the change of direction and point in time that the fourth and fifth films in the "X-Men" film series gave us was a welcome addition. Now, as the Bourne trilogy becomes a fourth film, despite having closed quite satisfactorily at the end of "The Bourne Ultimatum", we get to see which camp "The Bourne Legacy" will force this franchise into.
In "The Bourne Legacy", we are first introduced to Aaron Cross, who is on an exercise in the high snowy Alaskan mountains. Unbeknownst to him, while he is away and out of contact, the Department of Defence's Operation Outcome, of which he is part, is unravelling politically, thanks to the exposure granted it by Jason Bourne in the previous films. The decision is taken to remove all operatives and evidence of such a program, which is achieved with the use of suicide pills and using others to murder some of the scientists behind the "chems" they use.
Cross first learns of this when a missile destroys the cabin he is sheltering in along with another member of the Operation. Barely escaping, he outwits his pursuers and tracks down Dr. Marta Shearing, who he needs to supply him with more of his "chems" and who has been the only survivor of a massacre at the laboratory where she worked. Having seen the damage that a rogue agent can cause, the Department of Defence cannot allow these two to survive and so any means necessary is used to stop them.
It may seem that I've intentionally made this sound jumbled, but I can assure you that's not the case. What is the case is that the plot of the film is incredibly jumbled, as if the editing was done by throwing the whole plot into a machine like the one they use to draw the National Lottery numbers and sticking it all together in the order the machine spat the bits out in. The film cuts between the action scenes featuring Cross and the political scenes seemingly at random, with one baffling and unexplained cut from Alaska to some board room early on throwing me completely off. In many cases, the actions taken by those overseeing the project are unfathomable and there is at least one point at which belief does not just have to be suspended, it has to be frozen in carbonite for it to make any sort of sense whatsoever. I honestly don't recall seeing a film in which the plot was so incoherent; at least, not unintentionally so.
This wasn't helped by the timing of some of the scenes giving them more weight than they apparently deserved. The somehow inevitable rooftop chase scene late on seemed to last an awful lot longer than it needed to and, although exciting, there wasn't enough variation in the stunts in the motorcycle chase to deserve the screen time it received, especially when compared to the similar chase in "Knight and Day". Meanwhile, much of the early part of the film that should have been explaining how Aaron Cross came into being and exactly why they were suddenly feeling the need to destroy the program was inexplicably missing, or glossed over so quickly that it became difficult to follow.
It seemed as if there were a number of good ideas for scenes here, particularly one part involving a wolf, but not quite enough coherence to build them all together, so the ideas were intercut with some random bits of story and some ideas borrowed from elsewhere to flesh out what few ideas were original and worthwhile. This only serves to support the view that the whole is a bit of a jumbled mess, as it seems from the beginning that there wasn't a lot of rhyme or reason behind the film as a whole. Indeed, a quick glance at iMdb to see how many actors were considered for the lead role before it was cast suggests that there wasn't harmony even before things kicked off.
The acting performances as well didn't appear anything much to write home about. Jeremy Renner has performed well as an action hero in smaller roles in the likes of "Avengers Assemble" and I thought he played a lower profile role in "The Hurt Locker" reasonably well, but I'm not convinced by this performance that he is strong enough to lead a film. Edward Norton is an actor I've liked since "Fight Club", but whilst he performed as strongly as would be expected from an actor of his calibre, his role was muddied by a lack of clarity provided by the script. Rachel Weisz was much better, as her role allowed her to be a normal woman in a strange and frightening situation, without her suddenly having to become a super hero type character in her own right and this made her performance seem a little more natural.
The script didn't really help matters, being as jumbled as the plot. There was very little warmth here and apart from the one good line as one ex-Forces character snipes at another, there was no real rancour, either. It felt as if the storyline had made a mess of the whole thing and the script just went along for the ride, seemingly not wanting to get too involved and ending up with the whole thing being hugely unmemorable. Perhaps the worst were the closing lines, which were surprisingly warm lines given what has gone before, but which hinted at a sub-plot that had never seemed obvious or welcome at any point previously.
On the plus side, the parts of a film that I like to blend into the background and not be noticed did that with ease here. The soundtrack wasn't as imposing and overdone as it can be with action films and I didn't notice anything obviously wrong with the stunts or the computer generated imagery, as all should be in an ideal situation. But when the kindest thing I can think to say about the film is that nothing at all stood out, this is certainly to damn said film with faint praise.
Sadly, however, faint praise is all "The Bourne Legacy" deserves. The open end suggests a sequel and that suggests that all this film may be remembered for is for being merely a 2 hour trailer for whatever is to come next. As a decent film, it fails by being too much of a mess. As an addition to the Bourne franchise, it fails by being out of keeping with what has gone before, with little plot and even less driving force behind it. This is one of those films that will soon be appearing as a cheap DVD in the kind of places that offer second hand products and even then won't be worth paying for. Fortunately, it will soon appear on Sky Movies for nothing and will still be worth avoiding. Action films often flatter to deceive, but I can't remember the last time I watched an action film and left so completely underwhelmed by the whole thing. This film is definitely the Bourne franchise's "Crystal Skull" and it wasn't worth paying cinema prices for and will be even less worth paying DVD prices for.
I guess one of my possible subconscious reasons for failing to see all the films in between the Bourne Identity and this most recent film may be that I was concerned they would simply be slight variations of each other and become a bit too repetitive for my liking. Truth be told I wanted to see them all in order before seeing this film, but time is a problem.
However, I do feel that the 'one man against the state' storyline is a little over-told and whilst this film attempts to differentiate itself by the fact that of course now we are to discover that more than one man are in the position of Jason Bourne, it is still pretty much the same story. Somehow I struggled to appreciate what was quite a fine execution of this story just because I felt like I knew exactly what was coming and how it would go. Yes, there were a couple of scenes that could get you on the edge of your seat, but as interesting and well considered the story was, it simply did not seem original. I think even if the whole story were new, I felt that every element had come from somewhere else. I love these types of films, but maybe they have become predictable.
I was actually more impressed with Rachel Weisz, although I have to bashfully admit that I did not recognise her as Rachel Weisz until I saw her name credited afterwards. I suppose this is just credit to how convincing her character was, as I personally find it hard to completely get into a story when I recognise a famous actor/actress as someone I know from some other film. Anyway to be honest I think her character seemed to develop really well and you can relate to her a lot better than the main character because she plays a more human role (rather than some super action figure).
As the hero of the story, Aaron Cross, Jeremy Renner played a fairly convincing role, but he didn't particularly wow me as much as I had expected. Again this might be because he is as the story might suggest, a little too used to these things and therefore his responses are less 'human'. Perhaps also he was a little restricted in how well he could develop, but although you could certainly care about what happened to him, it was just very hard to relate to him.
There were also some impressive scenes with other characters that really keep you guessing and can also leave you feeling a bit disturbed.
I have got to be honest, the view I had of this film was pretty poor. Having arrived late we were sat in the front, for me always a little too close to the screen and the angle was awkward too. Nonetheless there were some impressive scenes and the graphics generally were decent enough (in spite of everybody looking a bit wonky). There is a fair amount of variety in terms of scenes and some very good 'car chases' with not necessarily just cars.
Sound wise, I didn't find this film as powerful as other recent action films, apart from one scene of a shooting, where the sound was less shocking and more disturbing. At that point it probably felt more real than most films but with less of an impact. Any music just blended into the background for me and was not really memorable, although I did having a feeling that there was often a mood created by the music.
This film is only a 12A, but to be honest I'm not too sure I agree with this rating. There are some very disturbing and upsetting scenes in this film, that involve violence, including (although not properly shown) a wolf being killed and of course the shooting I mentioned which is a massacre that is slowly played out and very disturbing. Personally I'm not sure all parents would feel comfortable letting their younger children watch this, even if accompanied.
This film really didn't make a big impression on me. With all the shootings that have been going on recently, that scene seemed to be the thing I'd remember most and it made for very uncomfortable viewing. I realise that when making this film what would be happening in the world at the time of its release could not be predicted, but even without that, it's probably not a good thing to remember it for that.
I am in no hurry to see this film again so will not be buying the DVD or renting it. I can't say I'd refuse to watch it on the television, but there are so many other films that I'd prefer, I just probably won't bother.
Forget Matt Damon and Jason Bourne - as this is all about Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), and...you guesssed it, the "legacy" Damon's Bourne leaves behind after he starts causing trouble for the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). And the good news is, no, you won't necessarily miss Damon or Bourne. There is an air of something fresh and original about Cross' story and what it has to tell. Sure, a lot of the action seems mute and not quite as well executed with the absence of Paul Greengrass, the man who gave Bourne its iconic spy franchise status. But where "The Bourne Legacy" excels in is with keeping the tension running high, competently handling a lot of its dialogue jargon, and in landing itself with a star, Renner, worthy of carrying on the popular spy series himself.
When the project was first green lit and it was announced Damon would not be returning to his role, a lot of confusion and frustration arose questioning the latest film's worthiness or necessity. Thinking of itself as a reboot and shifting its focus from one superspy to another, the idea for this drastic move was risky, and not hugely popular. But Cross' story is a fun, interesting albeit far-fetched one. This time, we are dealing with another top secret, highly classified division fo the CIA, the Outcome. After Bourne goes rogue and Pamela Landy (Joan Allen in a very brief cameo role) threatens to expose the illegal activities of a similar programme, Treadstone, alarm bells start ringing and top dog Eric Bayer (Edward Norton) makes the tough but seemingly necessary decision to close everything down from top to bottom. This means agents, scientists and everyone else involved with Outcome need to be wiped out. The result is mostly successful, although they leave one crucial agent and a smart scientist unaccounted for.
The agent is the aforementioned Cross, with the scientist being Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz). The two of them survive, and need to stay alive if there is any hope for vengeance against CIA's latest creation. But Cross is no ordinary agent and it appears a highly advanced, genetic technique has been used for the participants of Outcome to possess enhanced strength and intelligence. The catch is, this state needs to be sustained by medication, "Chems," as Cross calls it, and he has almost run out of his supply. Without those Cross is a dead man as his body now cannot function. With Dr. Shearing's help, who can help him overcome this dependency with yet another fancy scientific technique, their journey takes them half way around the globe to Manila, the Philippines.
Yes, the scope is undeniably narrow and personal, but here is a more than fine set-up, lead-in piece that establishes the two principal characters before using them for something bigger in what will hopefully become the film's direct sequel. Cross needs to sort out his medication problem, and at the same time evade the CIA who will clearly not give up until they have him and her dead or alive. With that constant threat to have everything unravel is a scary thought, an outcome you would not want for the two on the run. With its simple general outline, the film has more room to show us the origins of Cross, done so in intermittent flashbacks, to give a comprehensible overview of how this ordinary guy got involved in the first place.
And Renner is a superb "replacement" and his presence is more than enough to have us forget about Damon completely. Too long has he been in small supporting roles, and now, along with his recent successes in "The Hurt Locker," "The Town," and "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol," he gets to headline an action vehicle all by himself and this newly found action star does not disappoint. Looking more serious, mature and intense than Damon, he gives Cross a calm yet deadly look, whereas he also shows his softer sides when paired up with the vulnerable Dr. Shearing. With her thin-scripted but vital role, Weisz does the best she can, convincingly explaining to us the many scientific ideas and experiments that contribute to the story behind Cross. Her enthusiasm and dedication on the subject matter has us almost fooled, no matter how absurd and ridiculous some of the new-found developments may sound.
In a largely familiar setting, the CIA's bosses stand behind computer screens, a clear repetition from what we have already seen in "The Bourne Ultimatum." And whilst Norton makes a cold and intelligent villain, he alone cannot hold his own against what the tense dynamic between David Strathairn and Joan Allen achieved in the predecessor. There is a certain degree of merciless menace that goes with Bayer's every order, and it is clear the resources he controls will heavily out-match whatever Cross has up his sleeves. As the camera frantically shifts focus between Cross and Bayer, what we get is a compelling semi mind game of one talented agent trying to outdo the other. Who the winner will be is more than clear, but the path getting us there is exciting regardless.
Wanting to press on with the narrative, and in order to dazzle us with the action it has prepared, the film does have a tendency to rush through the details and there are many wonky, highly improbable links made between how these two good guys get out of their many sticky situations. Forging passports, coming up with new identities, creating fake identification passes - all of these challenges seem to come so naturally and easily for Cross, and you won't be blamed for rolling your eyes at some of the noticeable holes made for the smooth flow of its storytelling.
Little bursts of action will keep you glued to the screen, and although the scale has been reduced, and the chases (on foot then by motorcycle) don't match up to the high standard set by its previous films, there is enough potent material here to keep the action fans happy. The hasty ending that leaves a lot of things up in the air should provide plenty of meaty plotlines for future films to tackle, should there be a follow-up feature: and yes, the franchise, even without Bourne himself, is alive and well, and seems to have a lot more stories to tell.
Once upon a time Jason Bourne woke, memoryless but in possession of a highly specialised skill set, to find himself pursued and in a danger he couldn't understand. As the pieces fell into place his survival became a matter of bringing down the organisation responsible for his situation. But such actions have consequences, and the ripples are wider than we've seen. And really - you didn't think he was the only one, did you?
Okay, let's get this out first: *I* really enjoyed this movie, even if it seems no one else did! I'm quite shocked at how negative a lot of opinions and reviews have been about this sequel to the Bourne trilogy (Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum) - as far as I'm concerned it was a perfectly acceptable - nay, thoroughly enjoyable! - addition to the action thriller genre.
So, what are some of the criticisms? First up is the fact that this is a Bourne movie without Bourne - the character is referenced, but there's no Matt Damon or (thankfully!) substitute playing the actual character. Some have suggested, then, that this movie should just remove any 'pretence' of being part of the Bourne franchise, and start fresh as a standalone.
I disagree wholeheartedly: for me, what really gave this movie a bit of a lift from just run of the mill generic action/thriller was that very link to a series I already know. Legacy runs more or less concurrently with the events in The Bourne Ultimatum, and I loved the feeling that we were seeing a wider picture than we'd previously been shown. Films generally set up events; here we get to see some of the wider implications beyond an otherwise wholly-contained story.
That's not to say you *have* to have seen the previous Bourne films - I had a few moments early on, when we really are seeing references to the other events, where I was worried about how long ago it was since my last viewing. However, it's absolutely fine to just know that there was a bloke called Jason Bourne, and he stirred up some trouble that's now kicking off what we see here.
For, trouble it is indeed! With some rather dodgy super-soldier-like programs suddenly in danger of being made a little too public, the shady powers that be go into damage control mode in a big way. This is rather unfortunate for the 'programme participants', but one - Aaron Cross - manages to side-step the immediate fall out. Much like Bourne, however, that does leave him on the run.
So... a bit similar? Well, yes - that one I will concede. There is little of massive originality here, compared to Bourne or a hundred other comparable movies in the genre. However, for me that isn't a huge negative - 99% of movies are, in my opinion, very very similar to a lot of other movies! At least in this instance it's sort of meant to be!
What has changed from the previous instalments is our lead. I'm finding myself liking Jeremy Renner a lot, as a slightly less than typical action hero moving from supporting roles in movies such as M:I-4 and Avengers to the lead here. The character is a bit less generic than Mr Bourne as well, whether you like that or not, it seems! Other actors on show include Edward Norton, who is always great but actually fits the intense role here, and Rachel Weisz, who manages to portray a somewhat clichéd character without being annoying! A few familiar faces pop up from the other films, too.
The final criticism I want to address is with the overall plot and pacing: some have described this movie as "one long intro". I do understand that, as there is a fair amount of set up; it takes a while to really get going; and the overall plot is indeed relatively slim. Again, I would argue the latter is a complaint across the genre, and given how over-complicated things could have been made, it's not the worst failing possible.
In fact, the 'over-complication' of the ties back to the Bourne Ultimatum are probably enough for one movie. As I said, you don't have to have seen the predecessor, but the start of the film does spend quite a while flicking back and forth between people discussing that, dealing with it, and then the slightly-seemingly unrelated setting up the new main character. It can make for a rather uneven pace to begin with, so perhaps that's why I was reasonably happy to fall into well-worn familiarity of the chase/flight genre - although again, a lot of people seem to be unhappy about this *not* taking the same tack as Bourne, as if that makes it a lesser film/character - ah, I'll say no more!
I confess I did rather stop reading reviews at this point, but probably one of them does flag what I genuinely did have a 'hmm' moment over. In the original Bourne movies, I don't remember anything to suggest that Jason was anything other than extremely well trained - albeit rather unconventionally! I could be wrong, but certainly there is a difference to the backstory here, with chemical and genetic enhancements being thrown into the mix. However, with one surprisingly un-farfetched line they do sort-of explain the differences, and certainly it all came together rather nicely in the character arc as far as I was concerned.
So, overall I went into this very worried about this tagged-on sequel with new characters and (pretty much) none of the original. I was very pleasantly surprised at how well the story fitted in, neither rewriting nor ignoring the previous plot, but rather showing how the events there had much wider ripple effects.
It seems, I think, that the big 'meh' over this movie is the suggestion that it just doesn't live up to previous instalments. What can I say - I like the first three, but not so much that I feel like some classic has been defiled.
So Bourne Legacy is not a perfect movie by any stretch, nor particularly original - what is these days?! - but I am genuinely surprised at how poorly it's being received, as it was in my reckoning a well-presented burst of action/thriller with more than enough to keep me entertained. In fact, I thought it was better than the vast majority of the genre - enough to push my rating up to 4 stars.
Running time: 135 minutes
Theatrical release: 13th August 2012
DVD release: tbc
Full cast and crew details can be found on imdb.
When it was announced that a fourth Bourne film was to be produced, most people assumed that, with its customary lack of imagination, Hollywood would simply reboot the franchise, or even continue it by substituting another actor for Matt Damon in the lead role.
Instead, to everyone's surprise, it chose to create a story whose events run roughly parallel with The Bourne Ultimatum. Following Bourne's planned exposure of the Treadstone/Black Briar Project the US government chooses to shut down the programme by killing all agents trained under the scheme. Unfortunately for them one, Aaron Cross, escapes the cull.
Everything about this film screams that it is unnecessary and superfluous. The original Bourne trilogy was both action packed and imaginative; each of the three films added something to the over-arching plot. It had a strong ending and whilst (inevitably) it was left open for further sequels, it provided a satisfying conclusion to an excellent series. It should have been left there.
Inevitably, like a dog returning to its own vomit, Hollywood couldn't resist going back. And just like watching that dog, the end result was never going to be pretty. If anything, The Bourne Legacy merely serves to trample all over the memory of the earlier films, conveniently ignoring them when it suits it, introducing some contradictory ideas and generally just being a pale imitation of what has gone before. Poor old Matt Damon must be tearing his hair out. If you'll forgive a rather obvious and trite statement, The Bourne Legacy destroys Bourne's legacy.
Apart from a few vague references to Jason Bourne and Treadstone, this really has very little in common with the previous films. Indeed, you rather get the impression that someone picked up a generic spy/action film and had the "great" idea of attaching the Bourne name to it in order to sell more tickets.
The resulting script is ridiculously simple (Aaron Cross needs his drugs from the US government and goes to find them; the US government wants him dead), but the writers try and make it seem far more complicated than it actually is. It's this more than anything else which makes the film rather boring. It spends so long trying to convince the viewer that it is a worthy successor to Bourne that it forgets to be fun and interesting. A Bourne film without Bourne I can live with; a Bourne film without interest or originality is a lot harder to stomach.
The Bourne Legacy is an action film that is curiously devoid of action for long periods. The strength of the previous films was their ability to blend regular set-pieces with an intelligent and interesting plot. In a desperate attempt to prove it can be just as clever, The Bourne Legacy ties itself up in knots and spends a ridiculous amount of time doing very little. A weak opening gives way to surprisingly boring and drawn out middle section.
The film finally bursts into life with a well-staged motorcycle chase late on in the film, but it really comes too late to save things. Moreover, although it is done well, it's slightly lengthy and repetitive and really contains nothing we haven't seen before. And whilst the chase itself is rather drawn out, the final climax to it is seriously anti-climactic and unbelievable (it's difficult to explain why without giving away the ending, but it runs contrary to everything we know about the super-agents produced by Treadstone and its related projects).
The motorcycle chases also inadvertently underlines the lack of originality in the script. A vehicle chase of some description has appeared in all previous Bourne films; the roof-top/parkour chase that precedes this section is also lifted almost directly from an earlier Bourne movie. It's almost as though the writers have sat down with the earlier films and noted the elements common to each, or which scored well with focus groups. Working from this checklist, they have then included them in the new script. Far from ensuring its success, it simply highlights how much weaker this film is when compared to its predecessors.
The cast do their best, but they really are up against it thanks to the weak script. If you ignore the fact that he is basically a government-controlled junkie (the idea that agents are controlled and enhanced through medication is a convenient plot point previously unmentioned in earlier Bourne films), then Jeremy Renner tries his best as Aaron Cross. He's good enough at the action elements and convinces in the fight sequences but he fails to bring that crucial human element to the role. The reason Matt Damon's Bourne worked so well was because he was a curious mix of lethal weapon and vulnerable adult. You didn't know whether to hug him or run away from him. Renner's Cross is rather more unsympathetic and merely comes across as a ruthless trained killer who will stop at nothing to save his own skin.
It's not helped by the fact that he is not really given anything to work with. Rachel Weisz's Dr Marta Shearing (with whom Cross inevitably ends up on the run) is frankly pathetic. Weisz looks disinterested and spends much of the movie squeaking, failing to emote in any meaningful way. In fairness, she isn't helped by a paper-thin character whose motives for helping Renner's rogue agent are never satisfactorily explained. Such is the apparent lack of effort that you seriously wonder why (apart from a big fat fee) Weisz even bothered turning up. The chemistry between herself and Renner is non-existent and this cripples any emotional aspirations the film might have. The original Bourne film succeeded because you cared about both Bourne and Marie and wanted them to escape and live their own lives. With this pair, you could hardly care less.
The one bright spot comes from the always reliable Edward Norton as Eric Bayer, the man determined to kill Cross and cover up the Bourne scandal. Even though he should be (and is) an unlikeable character, Norton plays him well. It's just a shame that he gets so little screen time and is wasted for large parts of the film.
It's not like it was unexpected, but The Bourne Legacy is a poor imitation of the earlier films. Like the books themselves, the move away from the original concept and key figures (both on and off-screen) is a serious error of judgement. The Bourne films should have been left to fade into memory after Matt Damon left. Let's hope The Bourne Legacy's real legacy is that the franchise is now allowed to rest in peace.
[Incidentally, the sad news that Tony Scott has died today merely serves as a reminder of how much better he might have done with a film like this.]
The Bourne Legacy
Director: Tony Gilroy
Running time: approx. 135 minutes
(c) Copyright SWSt 2012