The Bourne Legacy Makes Us Miss, Say It, MmmmmmAAAAAaaaaaTTTTTTtttt DddddAAAAAMMMMmmon!

Bitter, Bitter Balcony, Movie Review, The Bourne Legacy 2012Tony Gilroy, Dan GilroyTony GilroyJeremy Renner, Rachel WeiszRobert Ludlum (inspired by his novels) Bitter,Bitterometer,meter The Bourne Legacy(2012)

There’s always a huge risk when both the star and the director of a successful, if not groundbreaking, film series depart, forcing a franchise to justify it’s continuation, transcend the established and re- invigorate, and most importantly, define it’s legacy. That was the challenge that awaited the fittingly titled “The Bourne Legacy,” the fourth installment of the adventure saga, as Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon went to find better things to do with their time than shake a camera around for six months. This latest entry, now helmed by series screenwriter Tony Gilroy, hopes its’ fans can be afflicted by the same amnesia Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) endured in the previous three movies and embrace the future of the Bourne movies with a new lead, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner).

“Legacy” picks up around the events of “The Bourne Ultimatum,” revealing that the remains of the nefarious Treadstone and Blackbriar agencies and their league of aging character actors did worse things than make Matt Damon into an MMA bully. Enter Aaron Cross, another test subject who, like Bourne, has been genetically altered by yet another ultra-treacherous agency, Outcome, to become a super soldier. With the impending backlash of their sinister methods on the cusp of public exposure, the leftover conspirators recruit Col. Byer (Edward Norton) to track down and eliminate Cross and other enhanced soldiers. While Col. Byer comes close, the intrepid Cross manages to escape his clutches. Cross is left to embark on a rouge mission of self-preservation while uncovering the truth behind Outcome’s concealed operations. Cross, assisted by Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), whose life is also in peril, travels from the wilderness of Alaska to the urban jungle of Downtown Manila as his survival lies on the balance.

Tony Gilroy gets a chance to prove that the franchise he adapted from the late Robert Ludlum novels can still be vibrant (or perhaps more imperative, enduring). Gilroy steers the course, finding a vision that falls between Doug Liman’s grounded 70’s suspense tone from the first “The Bourne Identity” with Paul Greengrass’s frenetically hand-held follow-ups “Supremacy” and “Ultimatum.” “The Bourne Legacy” showcases the trademark exotic locales, realistically brutal fight sequences, and the climatic chase scene that had marked the Bourne adventures. Still, as his direction is commendable, Gilroy does very little to provide the auteur stamping his predecessors left behind. Here, Gilroy is ultimately a caretaker of what has been laid before him. Mind you, Gilroy, continuing as a co-screenwriter with his brother Dan Gilroy, does even less to add a new spin to the story, sticking to the “government is out to get you” paranoia that jams the series from a true thematic expansion.

Jeremy Renner, a very talented and likable actor, has blown up from indie favorite into a mainstream player with supporting roles in “The Avengers” and “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.” As the lead this time around, Renner features an underlined desperation in Cross that humanizes his hero in a way that Damon’s stoic Bourne discarded at some point during his tenure. It’s too bad that Renner lands in franchises that really belong to other stars, like Damon or Tom Cruise, leaving him without that signature role and movie that he can claim as his own. As for the rest of the cast, Rachel Weisz is beautifully vulnerable as Dr. Shearing, and Norton is quietly fierce as the bureaucratic villain Byer. Familiar faces from the Bourne universe, like Joan Allen’s hard-noised Pam Landy, along with David Strathairn, Scott Glenn, and Albert Finney as surviving necktie baddies, are dignified in their sprinkled-in roles.

Ultimately, the bummer of “The Bourne Legacy” is not that it’s a bad film, but that it might mark the decline of a series that defined the espionage film for this new century. The Bourne films stripped out the ridiculousness that we expected from the Spy movie, most notably with the flamboyantly fun but flimsy pre-Daniel Craig era James Bond series. Is it fair to suggest that Bond had to drop his borderline parodical nature in order to keep up with the no-nonsense brutality of Jason Bourne? That could be a debate for another day, but when you compare the great “Skyfall” to the lukewarm “The Bourne Legacy,” perhaps Aaron Cross will be left to battle complacency in “The Bourne Concession.”


Official website:
The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Legacy2012Tony Gilroy, Dan GilroyTony GilroyJeremy Renner, Rachel WeiszRobert Ludlum (inspired by his novels) 

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