Review: There’s a lot that can be said about the Bourne trilogy so far. For starters, the movies have collectively hit close to a billion dollars on the worldwide box office; they gave America it’s very own James Bond-esque, international espionage spy series; they even went on to change the very landscape of how spy novels were adapted on film. That being said, with The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), they also gave the perfect ending to an evergreen epic saga. However, Universal had other plans and decided to find a way to keep the Bourne bucks rolling in. Result: Bourne Legacy.
Given that there is no Matt Damon or Paul Greengrass for this addition, it’s safe to say that ‘Legacy’ is in many ways a revamped and rebooted version of the prior three titles. Not to mention, this isn’t an adaptation of a Robert Ludlum novel (the creator of the series) but simply an expanded work of creativity. However, this story does run in a parallel universe to that of the original.
The main premise of Legacy unearths the several super spies other than Jason who were and continue being controlled by the U.S Government. As it turns out, Operation Treadstone was only the tip of the iceberg and there are numerous other such programs being operated by those in power. Enter: Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner).
Cross is a devil-may-care attitude sporting spy who is adept at mountain scaling, shooting, wolf fighting and what not. The story heats up when Eric Byer (Edward Norton) comes into the picture. Byer is the founder of many such operations that put spies deep into cover for long term intelligence assignments. However, with the Bourne situation from Supremacy and Ultimatum causing more heat on his illegal activities, he decided to start annihilating these men and women who he himself has stationed. Aaron Cross however, has different plans and escapes death numerous times in order to expose Byer and the dastardly minds behind these operations.
From here on end, it’s an intriguing mix of twists and turns coupled with a fair bit of testosterone induced fight scenes and the obvious peppering of elaborate explosions and vehicle chase sequences. There is also a damsel in distress in the form of victimized female scientist, Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), who Cross saves from the clutches of their common enemies.
It’s all very Bourne trilogy-like till this point. However, the lack of punch settles in thanks to the shoddy writing. The story just isn’t intriguing enough. It fails to strike the same chord which Jason Bourne struck with every viewer. The fact that Aaron Cross, unlike Jason Bourne has no memory impairment whatsoever is certainly a downfall. However, they have added his motivation as more of a physical conflict rather than psychological. Through the entirety of the film, he tries to figure out the effects of the green and blue pills he’d been administered as a spy. Still, it never seems to grasp you like a Bourne title should.
Director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) has put his dialogue – heavy sense of direction into the wrong project this time. There’s too much talk and too little action at times. Though, he must be lauded for the way he’s handled the action sequences towards the penultimate 45 minutes. Some of those leave you at the edge of your seat. The cinematography is brilliant by a Gilroy regular (Robert Elswit) and the editing is top notch as well. Those wide screen shots look stunning and the entire look of the film in itself, is pleasing to the eyes. Two sequences deserve special mention: A singular, unbroken shot of Cross jumping on to the roof of a three story house seemed more believable than I’d have ever imagined. More so, the motorcycle chase through Manilla is purely exhilarating.
Jeremy Renner has handled his role with aplomb. While he does portray his role with integrity, he is no Matt Damon. The movie star charisma that Damon brought to the role is what made the Jason Bourne character so reletable. Rachel Weisz is effective and does well in the emotional outbursts. However, her scenes with Cross seem dragged and almost unnecessary. Edward Norton is always a treat to watch in any role. A cult favorite, he can portray virtually any role with tremendous élan. Which is why I was saddened by the limitedness of his role. He was mostly shown sitting around, barking orders at henchmen. I’d rather have watched Renner mixing it up with the baddies than sit through endless minutes of Norton’s character ranting. We still love you though, Edward. Do a little more Fight Club kind of stuff.
All in all, if you were to show me Bourne Legacy as a stand-alone movie with a different title and no connection with the prior Bourne movies, I’d say it’s a pretty entertaining film. Sure, it has it’s dull moments but it’s dialogue, pacing and sequences are way above many of the others in it’s genre.
Unfortunately, I felt like I was constantly reminded of the genius that the preceding three films left behind. Though we must remember, that there’s no shame in being number four in a series of four films when the other three are the Bourne Trilogy. I recommend you watch it if you’re after a whole new cinematic journey and not just a sequel.
Verdict: Whether you like it or not, Bourne is reborn.
Jackie J. Thakkar
Director: Tony Gilroy
Writer: Tony Gilroy, Dan Gilroy
Cast & Crew: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Oscar Isaac, Joan Allen, Albert Finney, Scott Glenn, David Strathairn, Sheena Colette, Michael Papajohn, Michael Chernus, Karen Pittman, Michael Berresse, Stacy Keach
Music: James Newton Howard
Length: 2 hrs 15 mins
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