Josh Wilding Reviews: THE BOURNE LEGACY
The Bourne Legacy? Well, The Bourne Disappointment seems far more appropriate in this instance! Hit the jump for my spoiler-free take on writer and director Tony Gilroy's spin-off of the franchise starring Marvel's The Avengers' Jeremy Renner.
"It's just that it was unreadable. This is a career-ender. I mean, I could put this thing up on eBay and it would be game over for that dude. It's terrible. It's really embarrassing," said Matt Damon on Tony Gilroy's initial screenplay for The Bourne Ultimatum not too long ago. It turns out that his analysis of the writer was pretty spot on if The Bourne Legacy is anything to go by. Regardless of whether you judge this film on its own merits or endlessly compare it to what has come before (it's impossible not too seeing as it goes to such great effort to link itself to the original Bourne trilogy) there's no getting around the fact that it's a major disappointment. Imagine if you will, Casino Royale without James Bond. How about 24 without Jack Bauer? This is Bourne with Jason Bourne, and it ends up being exactly what you might expect; a watered down and ineffective continuation of a fantastic trilogy.
Running parallel to the events of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, the story boils down to being little more than shady government types deciding to take out their agents on the off chance that they're uncovered as a result of the furore with Jason Bourne. It's a weak premise, and the more you think about it, the less sense it will make. Throw in a frankly ridiculous storyline about "Chems" which enhance agents like Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) and it steadily becomes more and more unconvincing as the two hour runtime drags on. At one point, a super-enhanced agent hunting down Cross actually sniffs his jacket and takes off in pursuit of him. It's laughable. What follows is long-winded and unimpressive chase sequence which admittedly has it's moments, but they're few and far between. With only one real major set piece in The Bourne Legacy, it's a shame that it fails to leave a lasting impression. Even the fight sequences scattered throughout all pale in comparison to what has come before. It's not that they're bad as such, they just lack any real sense of excitement or danger.
A scene in which Cross battles a wolf actually proves to be better than all of the man-on-wolf action which was featured in The Grey, and it is Jeremy Renner who actually saves the film from complete mediocrity. He's thoroughly convincing as the agent on the run and has a great handle on action. Performances in the likes of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol have already shown that he's leading man material, but he's given little here to work with and deserves a much better franchise of his own than this. Edward Norton (Eric Byer) is completely wasted as he does little more than stand around, and despite a flashback adding some context to his and Cross' relationship, it never pays off. Is he the villain of the piece? Sort of, but not a particularly well-defined one! Rachel Weisz (Dr. Marta Shearing) is ok, but a mostly unimpressive presence on screen, meaning that her character adds little to the film despite playing a major role in the storyline. There's really no else worth even mentioning.
The main problem with The Bourne Legacy is that it's just dull. The film consists of little more than people standing around talking. When they're not doing that, they're just sitting down doing it. While this wouldn't usually be a problem (take a look at Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy for example), the fact that the story is so uninteresting and one dimensional makes it hard to care about anything ANYONE says. Not even throwing in a bunch of Jason Bourne Easter Eggs - the majority of which have already been revealed in the trailer - can help. In fact, all they do is serve as a reminder that this isn't truly a Bourne movie. It's hard to believe that Tony Gilroy had a role in writing the last three films as his work here is so inferior. As a director, he clearly isn't cut out for action, and lacks all of the style and finesse that Paul Greengrass brought to the previous two films. James Newton Howard's score is good, although the decision to end the film with a version of "Extreme Ways" is another baffling throwback.
Despite the impressive screen presence of Jeremy Renner, Aaron Cross isn't anywhere near as interesting a protagonist as Jason Bourne. The Bourne Legacy wouldn't be worth watching even if it wasn't a shameless cash-grab on an acclaimed trilogy.
The narrative architect behind the Bourne film series, Tony Gilroy, takes the helm in the next chapter of the hugely popular espionage franchise that has earned almost $1 billion at the global box office: The Bourne Legacy. The writer/director expands the Bourne universe created by Robert Ludlum with an original story that introduces us to a new hero (Jeremy Renner) whose life-or-death stakes have been triggered by the events of the first three films. For The Bourne Legacy, Renner joins fellow series newcomers Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach and Oscar Isaac, while franchise veterans Albert Finney, Joan Allen, David Strathairn and Scott Glenn reprise their roles.
Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross
Rachel Weisz as Stephanie Snyder
Edward Norton as Byer
Joan Allen as Pam Landy
David Strathairn as Noah Vosen
Albert Finney as Dr. Albert Hirsch
Scott Glenn as Ezra Kramer
RELEASE DATE: August
3rd 10th, 2012
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