More time is spent sort-of rebooting or starting from scratch another Bourne-like dilemma for main character Aaron Cross, played by Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner, that we lose the “fun” of what it’s like going to see a Bourne movie. After three Bourne movies who needs more build-up. We want action, action, action. And we want it from the get-go.
The Story: Cross hails from the same secret experimental CIA program Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) comes from and, like Bourne, Cross is real curious as to what his purpose is in life. He’s out in the wilderness on a training mission to become a better operative when Jason Bourne makes an appearance in New York (the third film, The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) weaves its self well into this film) and with reporters closing in on a story, program chief and ex-Admiral Mark Turso (Stacey Keach) pulls the plug. He has retired Air Force Colonel Eric Byer (Ed Norton) call the shots and Byer is hell-bent on erasing all evidence of a secret program even if it means killing any and all Bourne-like operatives. Cross is one of those guys.
The Goods: There’s a strong psychological and chemical dependency character development here from director Tony Gilroy that allows him to create flare-ups from smoldering back-story. It’s more similar to his film Michael Clayton (2007), and to a degree his Duplicity (2009) in the sense we get a lot of dialogue and corporate back-stabbing, of CEO’s and ex-military leaders who think they have the power to stomp-out secrets; or persuade people from testifying against billion dollar corporations; or hide evidence of wrong doing by killing people. In situations like this that are shown to be credible to an audience, in Michael Clayton or otherwise, it’s real easy for a hero to rise from the ashes of conglomerate or military abuse and save society from further damage.
The Flaws: It’s one thing to get all corporate Superman on us but for a Bourne film, as we move forward, I feel it’s important to provide more fist-fights than factory fights. I felt at times that I saw more hand-to-hand combat in the movie Ted than here (which would then be hand-to-paw combat); which it should be noted that Ted most likely took it’s very funny fight scene from the Bourne films.
We already have James Bond and Ethan Hunt so what do we need with another special missions operative, especially one who has figured out the mystery of why people are after him. I haven’t read any of the Robert Ludlum books that the Bourne films are adapted from but can only suspect the strength of Bourne’s amnesia and loss of lady friends in earlier films was enough to get us through the suspense of those movies. I just get the impression here that what’s left for Universal is to just go the Bond route. Which isn’t necessarily Bourne’s way. It’s more like the Bored way. And we’ve seen more Terminator films than we need to so there’s no need to go that direction either, which is what The Bourne Legacy amounts to…another Terminator film.
I ask instead that by knowing we’ve seen three Bourne films by now why not use that prospect of further adventure and take it to a different level? It’s the same question asked of The Amazing Spiderman, and it will be asked from every other movie that has a…legacy of entertaining films behind it (from which to suck amusement out of). Look at what Joss Whedon did with The Avengers. The success of that film is solely based on what Whedon knew we would be expecting. And he nailed it.
It’s not about what can you do for the next generation, it’s more like you should be thinking first of the generation that witnessed these films first in the year they were released and how to work with us on that level for starters. There’s no need to be concerned of the “younger” generation because they get it. And when they hear that there’s a really good, entertaining movie playing at the theater with some cool chase sequences and motorcycle stunt scenes they’ll want to go see it. Provided they’re old enough.
The Call: I’m almost going to say stow the dough if it isn’t for Renner. He’s one of the best actors out there, and The Town (2010)—not Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011) or The Avengers—is proof after The Hurt Locker (2008) that this guy needs grade A scripts. It doesn’t help that Rachel Weisz is in this film. It could have been any actress. The fact she’s well known is almost a detriment. If she were the “Bourne” character here it might make a difference. Maybe that’s what they should be thinking moving forward.
Rated PG-13 for violence and action sequences. Running time is 2 hours and 15 minutes which is way too long for a fourth installment. Also stars holdovers from the other Bourne films: Scott Glenn, Albert Finney, David Strathairn and Joan Allen.
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