Director: Tony Gilroy
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Albert Finney, Joan Allen, Scott Glenn
Written by Dan Gilroy, (also story) Tony Gilroy and (inspired by the Bourne series) Robert Ludlum.
Running Time: 135 mins
Release date: 13th August 2012
The Bourne movies changed the shape of action films. With it’s complex plotting and stand-out chaotic cinematography during the fight scenes, even Bond had to change its way in the shadow of Matt Damon’s reluctant, flawed super spy. Now, with Damon away, the Bourne series has to follow a new path, with the ad line, “There was never only one Bourne”. But without Damon, should they have stopped at it with a trilogy?
The secret service in the US are still trying to clear up the mess that Treadstone and, in particular, the rouge agent Jason Bourne, has brought upon it, their next target is to dispose of their operatives that they have been creating using drugs, the formula of which is a blue and a green pill: one for strength and the other for intelligence. What they don’t know is that there is an agent they have forgotten about, Aaron Cross, whose been hiding out in the mountains. He soon realises that his dependancy on the pills is having to bring him back to civilization where he witnesses the death of a fellow operative. Desperate he heads to the chemical company who have been supplying his drugs where, once again he comes across assassins trying to kill the doctor who has been pumping him with the medication. Now they must run from the people who created him.
The first thing to say about the Bourne Legacy is that it’s not a terrible movie. It has some pretty nifty action sequences and an extended chase scene that mkaes up most of the final 20 minutes. The problem with the Bourne Legacy is that it just doesn’t work.
Writer Tony Gilroy, who also wrote the previous films, has taken on directing role here and unfortunately, he’s no Doug Liman or Paul Greengrass. His pacing and overall tone of the film is slow, slow and slower still. Nothing really happens for a good hour and when it does, he have long gone past caring. This is the problem with being the writer/director. You really don’t know when to edit (and it probably doesn’t help having your brother as the editor either).
The second thing is the character of Aaron Cross. Not taking anothing away from Jeremy Renner, who is a perfectly fine actor (as proven in The Hurt Locker) and is well suited to the action hero role (Hawkeye in The Avengers). The trouble is his hero here is beyond flawed. Jason Bourne was an interesting character because he didn’t have a clue what he was capable of. Damon didn’t look like a hero, more a regular guy who had irregular abilities. Aaron Cross is predominently a junkie, a man fed drugs to make him smarter and stronger but who is unable to survive without pill-popping.
The cast looks appealing on paper: Scott Glenn, Albert Finney, Joan Allen, David Strathairn and yet they have hardly any screen time whatsoever. Hardly enough to place their names on the posters. Instead we have Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton. Norton, as we know can deliver the goods but here he is relegated to office talk and barking orders. Hardly pushing the talents of a great actor. Rachel Weisz, while an intricate piece of the puzzle, is really nothing more than a glorified damsel in distress, someone to hang on the back of a bike and be in peril.
The Bourne films have always been intelligent blockbusters, they never talked down to the audience and they delivered top notch escapism with a little brains behind it. Here, by introducing the new character of Cross, we feel like we are having to go over old ground in order to reach the new stuff and the new stuff solid enough yet to grip us for over two hours.
As I said, this isn’t a terrible film. It just isn’t as impressive as the past films and as a new chapter to the series, it doesn’t feel strong enough to carry on the good name set by Damon’s character. Maybe they shouldn’t have re-Bourne it after all.