Monday, August 13, 2012

The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Legacy starts the same exact way The Bourne Identity begins, and The Bourne Ultimatum ends, with our hero floating dazed and confused in the water. This time, the filmmakers have swapped the amnesiac, vengeful Jason Bourne with the fresh-faced Aaron Cross. The players are different, but the song remains the same.

When we meet Cross (Jeremy Renner), he is in the final leg of his training (a solo journey through the barren Alaskan wilderness), before he becomes an elite super spy assassin. But once Jason Bourne resurfaces (The Bourne Legacy takes place at the same time as The Bourne Ultimatum), the CIA, in partnership with the NSA, deems their best “assets” as threats, and goes about taking them out one by one. Most are na├»ve enough to stupidly digest a fatal pill, but Cross is different. Cross is smart. Cross is trained. Cross is… ready… to… fight.

In a parallel story line, a lab scientist played by veteran character actor Zeljko Ivanek goes subtly berserk and (without reason) kills every doctor who has ever had anything to do with keeping these spies physically fit. It’s the film’s most hauntingly realistic scene. As the small statured Ivanek slowly makes his way around the lab, coldly executing one colleague after the other, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the all-too-frequent stories of crazed men blankly opening fire for unexplained reasons in public places. But then, right around the time Ivanek’s character kills himself, leaving one scientist (Rachel Weisz) to live another day, The Bourne Legacy stops being real a turns into a muddled, confounding mess – an action thriller with little action and fewer thrills.
Soon, Renner and Weisz are fighting an unbeatable and remorseless American government (headed by Edward Norton’s calculating, borderline psychopathic desk jockey) the same exact way Matt Damon and Franka Potente did in The Bourne Identity. The difference is, and try to stay with me here, instead of Bourne trying to regain knowledge of who he is, Cross is trying to not turn back into a moron.

No, really. You see, Cross and the rest of the super spies have to take routine doses of medicine that chemically maintain their superhuman strength. They are quicker, stronger, and smarter. If Cross stops taking his pills, he will turn back into his old self, a dimwit with an IQ 12 points below the standard to even enter the Army.

I mean… what?

So, the entirety of the movie consists of Cross and his genius lady scientist friend traveling across the world to find a cure so that Cross will be able to keep his strength and intelligence, without having to take the pills. All while escaping near death at the hands of the government, naturally.
Writer/director Tony Gilroy (who co-wrote the first three installments) knows how to create thrilling cinema; his Michael Clayton is clear evidence of that. But The Bourne Legacy is far too puzzling for its own good. Sure, it’s nice to see a character like Cross carry himself with a little charm and humor, and most of the acting here is reliable throughout, but if you don’t bother to give a shit about what they are talking about, what’s the point of it all?

On top of the film’s general lack of coherence, its action sequences are few and far between, and, save the truly stunning motorcycle chase that concludes the film, is nothing new to what we’ve already seen in the franchise.

The film’s lack of an ending only cements the notion that The Bourne Legacy in no way needed to be made. It isn’t interested in answering questions or offering new insight. Its goal is to open doors and pray for a sequel.

The Bourne Identity: B
The Bourne Supremacy: B
The Bourne Ultimatum: A-
The Bourne Legacy: D+

30 comments:

  1. Oh dear god. Bourne Ultimatum is one of my few 'A+' movies (basically agree with your rankings of the first 3 but a little higher)

    I don't even know if I want to see Legacy. *sigh* That bad ey Alex!

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    1. Dude, it was incomprehensible. I had no idea what was going on for a good chunk of it, and when it all (sorta) came back around, I really didn't care. Completely unnecessary.

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  2. Horrible film. What the heck was going on the entire time? I didn't even care enough to find out. I look forward to seeing first three films.

    On a side point: I'm working on a short film right now, actually. Any tips Alex?

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    1. Ha, glad I'm not the only one who found it pointlessly confusing!

      Congrats on making the film! Tips? Wow, I could go on for pages.

      Two things to live and die by as a director:
      -- Stick to your guns. Make the film you envision the way you envision it. Be open to collaboration, but don't let other people change your mind about something you don't want to change.

      -- Make a movie you yourself would want to see.

      Email me at withrowag@gmail.com if you have any other specific questions!

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    2. Thanks! Since this is my first, my nerves are pretty high and I don't want to come off as an idiot - did you ever have to deal with that?

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    3. Ha, of course! Just be confident in what you're doing. Remember: no rush.

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  3. Not perfect by any means, but it's still a bunch of fun and makes me wonder what's going to happen next with everybody in this story. Then again, we may see that, along with a possible return of Jason Bourne. One can only hope and wait. Good review Alex.

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    1. I think a J. Bourne return would be legit, but man, I didn't enjoy the story "arc" in this film at all. Oh well!

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  4. It's a shame that, according to your review, this was a dud -- I really liked Michael Clayton. Of course, a director's wok can be kind of hit or miss.

    I wasn't all that interested in seeing this even before I started reading negative reviews. I was really just *done* with the Bourne movies. I do like Rachel Weisz though.

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    1. I was really done with Bourne movies too, and this movie is evidence that the producers should've been as well. And it's a shame; Renner, Norton, Stacy Keach and especially Weisz are all really good. The movie is just weightless as air.

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  5. I actually laughed at the trailer so this did not look like a movie for me. I'll probably see it still though seeing as I love the first 3. Good review.

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    1. Ha, well, I can't blame you for waiting to see it anyway - I'm a big fan of the first three as well. But man... at least wait for DVD. It really isn't worth movie theater admission.

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  6. Oh, shit so it's bad, huh? I love Ultimatum and Identity, was looking forward to this one, mostly because of Norton and Weisz.

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    1. It has its moments, and the acting is definitely good, but for me, it was a clear miss.

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  7. ouch. i found some goodness in it. but if you're comparing to the previous films, it does't compare. at all.

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    1. Oh I found some goodness in it as well, but even not comparing it to the previous films, I still feel like this is a poor action movie. Solid acting, weak execution.

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  8. What about this movie is confusing, at all?

    People look at it like it's some sacrilege against Matt Damon and Jason Bourne. It's NOT a reboot, this is NOT a reimagining of Bourne. They said "Okay, if we know there are all these other super soldiers, why don't we see what's up with one of them? And if we tried to wipe them out, doesn't it make sense that at least ONE would get away and/or fight back?"

    All the reviews I've read seem to be personally offended by the fact that Aaron Cross isn't as "deep" or "conflicted" as Jason Bourne. So what?! He's a fully functional human being with all his memories and motivations intact; he knows who he is and why he joined the program. And now they're trying to kill him, so he's trying to stay alive.

    Yes, the movie had some flaws, but overall Renner was amazing, it was exciting and well-done, and I came away wanting more. So why are people acting like this is the worst thing since Spider-man 3??

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    1. I’m a little confused by your comment. I didn’t use the words reboot or reimagining anywhere in my review, because I really don’t think this movie is either of those things.

      I’m cool with the producers deciding to veer off and focus on a new subject – no problem with that at all. Jeremy Renner is an incredible actor, so I don’t mind following him around for two plus hours in the slightest. What I do mind is a weak as hell plot. A super spy traveling across the world to get medication so he doesn’t become dumber. Why even have that? A super spy traveling across the world trying to escape death from his own agency is plot enough, for me. I just though the whole “chem” thing was silly. (And that lack of an ending… did you really enjoy that?)

      As for being personally offended by how Cross wasn’t as deep and conflicted as Jason Bourne… again, I don’t think you got that from my review. I actually make mention of how refreshing it is to see a spy, like Cross, carry himself with some charm and a smile.

      Sorry my review was the cause of much apparent personal annoyance to you. It is just a summer action movie after all.

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  9. We're never gonna get anywhere if you take it SERIOUSLY man. :)
    I just saw it, and I can see where you're coming from. It was an unnecessary film, but I did enjoy it, even if it isn't anywhere near as good as the actual Bourne films.
    I'm hoping they get Greengrass and Damon back for a "Fast & Furious" type reunion, with Renner and Weisz in tow. And more of Joan Allen for cryin' out loud!

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    1. My rule: if the movie takes itself seriously, I should too. I definitely dug parts of it, but as a whole, I was bored as all hell. You can NEVER have too much Joan Allen. Bring her back full time!

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  10. I don't have any good opinion since I haven't watch any from Bourne series. Interesting that the 3rd have the best score from all! I almost watched this one though last weekend.

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    1. The third one ROCKS! Honestly, you'd be pretty lost if you saw The Bourne Legacy without seeing any (or all) of the previous three. All good flicks, but this most recent one just felt very unneeded.

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  11. There was a great deal of fun to be had with this film, but I will admit there is a bit too much talking going on here that really bored me. Thankfully, the action came in and kicked some ass, only to get played off out of nowhere by Moby. Boo Moby! Good review Alex.

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    1. Just realized I commented twice! Sorry bud! Your review just kicks that much ass. lol

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    2. haha you're awesome, Dan! No worries about commenting twice!

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  12. So what was the direction like? This is my major problem with the second and third Bournes, too much Greengrass.

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    1. Okay, in that regard, the direction here is pretty restrained. It's handheld, but not Greengrass handheld. Far more purposefully controlled. But that's just the cinematography.

      I think Gilroy is an excellent director, he knows how to compose a shot and make a scene move along, the problem here was the script. Plot points are wildly unnecessary and the characters are forced to do (and say) things that simply do not matter. The movie is 2 hours and 15 minutes long and could easily clock in at 1.45.

      Really forgettable flick.

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    2. it was adapted from another book right? bad adaptation rather than bad script. slightly different i guess, at least gilroy can blame lustbader. i may give it a go eventually but then i like watching rubbish movies every now and then.

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    3. Actually this one wasn't adapted from a book, they just used the Bourne character motif for inspiration. So maybe that's where some of the fault came into play...?

      I'm right there with you, I like seeing bad flicks from time to time. Helps balance everything out.

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    4. just checked, it was the name of the book but content completely different.

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