Review: The Bourne Legacy (2)

Posted on August 11, 2012
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Where is Jason Bourne when you really need him? Not to beat a man to a pulp, but to save a film which bears and now tarnishes his very name?

I’m curious how Tony Gilroy, who was a major part (writer) in all three previous Bourne films, could go into the fourth one with such an odd vision of the final product?

In a world where Jason Bourne is still at large, The Bourne Legacy focuses on the others like him; and how the process to tweak them into super soldiers takes place.

Webster’s Dictionary defines Legacy like so: something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past. Matt Damon and Tony Gilroy left us with an action trilogy that was exhilarating, heart pounding and most of all fun. So I ask again, how is this the same visionary as before, when this film feels vastly different?

Set in the same universe as the previous Bourne films, we are introduced to Aaron Cross, a new government project that is being molded and shaped to be a full fledge war machine. He is very different than the Jason Bourne character we have come to know. He is an introverted man, one of who is confused about his surroundings, yet programmed to perform. In many instances, he is a robot.

Initially when Jeremy Renner was cast as the heir to the Bourne throne I was pleased. Hell, even Damon was pleased; reports said he handpicked Renner to be his successor. Renner is a hell of an actor, putting together strong film after strong film, so there was no reason to doubt if he could handle this one.

During the first 40 or so minutes that are spent meticulously introducing the Cross hybrid to the audience, we get short and useless scenes of another new character in this familiar world of ours. Edward Norton plays Eric Byer the new man on the scene trying to figure out what is going on with Treadstone, Blackbriar and Jason Bourne. Yes, Jason Bourne is mentioned over and over, as he is still a threat, the ghost haunting the CIA and the operatives who unleashed him. Byer is basically the new Noah Vosen, the shot-caller trying to eliminate the imminent threats.

As we are jumping around, getting weak back story, we also meet the new female lead, Rachel Weisz who plays Dr. Marta Shearing. She is one of the brains behind the super soldiers, with high clearance levels that seem to be a big deal, yet never factor into the film that much. I have a major bone to pick with the way Weisz portrayed her character. It felt like she was over acting and didn’t fit into the “Bourne-Like” story. Franka Potente who played Marie in the first two films, and Julia Stiles who played Nicky in the second and third films felt like more natural characters, Weisz’s Dr. Shearing seemed forced.

When it comes down to it, Gilroy seemed lost extending the saga.

Jeremy Renner seems like he doesn’t belong in the Jason Bourne universe, nor can he hold a candle to Bourne or be in the same room as him. They are such different creations, yet we are supposed to believe that they are part of the same program, and that Cross was being built to be even more superior.

With Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum we get amazing action sequences, from roof top chases, to car chases, to long fight scenes that hold your attention for many minutes. So how could this possibly be a fourth film in the series when there is sparse action throughout the entire film? Legacy just omitted the biggest selling point of the franchise!

Usually I’m all for change, switching it up, breaking the mold; being a copycat is no fun. But Mr. Gilroy, you had a base to work off of, you had a blueprint, and you threw it in the garbage and tried to rebuild the Eiffel Tower from scratch.

Trying to be something you are not is never appealing. The script is a major bore, that opening 40 minutes I mentioned is full on bureaucratic language that confuses the audience and adds nothing to the story. Its like they were trying to rock the crowd to sleep.

Renner and Norton, that was suppose to be the cornerstone for this film, the addition of two major names like that not only drew audiences but led us to believe we were going to be in for a major payoff between the two. Instead Norton’s Byer is forgotten about, spliced in for 2 minutes, forgotten about, shown once more looking frail and old, and then forgotten again. We never see a showdown between them, and essentially, Norton is under utilized in every possible way.

We spend two hours sifting through agonizing dialogue, a lack of action, and a lack of sympathy for anyone on the screen. Then, in a blink of an eye, the Bourne final music plays and the film is over, out of nowhere. Accomplishing nothing. Ending so nonchalantly, yet I was happy simply because it was over.

As a big fan of Renner, he is simply okay here, but I wasn’t impressed. I never said wow, and he didn’t replace Damon at all as I initially expected him to. His character of Cross is barely explained or given a proper back story, we never feel connected to him, let alone know him as we did Jason Bourne.

The Bourne Legacy is by far the worst and most disappointing movie of the year, not because of some acting, or a poor script, but because the film never defines itself. Legacy is supposed to be a continuation of a story in a relatable world, but you are never given the desire to care about the events taking place. Not like the first three films.

Fans of the series will be angry, disheartened, disgusted and most of all frustrated.

It doesn’t make sense how something once so good can turn out to be so bad. This fourth film will simply make people wish it were never Bourne.

Rating: 3/10