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The Bourne Legacy (DVD)
Member Name: calypte
The Bourne Legacy (DVD)
Date: 22/08/12, updated on 23/08/12 (71 review reads)
Advantages: decent acting, looks good, fits together well enough
Disadvantages: takes a while to get going, and has little real substance
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.
Summary: No one else seems to, but I like it!