Newest Review: ... 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 h... more
The Bourne Legacy
The Bourne Legacy (DVD)
Member Name: goldenbat666
The Bourne Legacy (DVD)
Advantages: Taut, tense, exciting plot, gripping action, fantastic leading man
Disadvantages: Relies too heavily on scientific jargon at times, plus some laughably unrealistic scenes
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.
Summary: Even without the original actor and director, the Bourne franchise is alive and well