The Bourne Legacy (2012)

Content by Tony Macklin. Originally published on August 12, 2012 @ tonymacklin.net.

When a very successful movie franchise makes some major changes, it is likely that it will face a deluge of rejection and preconception.

"They changed it. OMG, they made changes!"

The Bourne Legacy comes with a lot of baggage stamps from reviewer claims.

But The Bourne Legacy isn't lost; maybe some reviewers are. They refuse to invest in the new version.

One can imagine if it was Matt Damon who replaced Jeremy Renner, they would say, "He's too thin; he's not as rugged as Renner was."

Some viewers feel action-deprived by the latest Bourne film. What have we become? How much more do people need for their fix? Granted the multiple action sequences are not blood-drenched, but shouldn't a lethal drone attack, a massacre, a big shootout that produces a lot of corpses in an old mansion, and a brawl in a factory in Manila suffice?

Granted there's not spurting blood and gory slashing, but there's still action galore.

But galore may not be enough.

One of the problems is that the first part of The Bourne Legacy has a lot of disconnection. It leaps from Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) enduring the majestic wilderness of Alaska, to the command center of a super secret agency, to a laboratory, to victims on the street. It's a lot of cut and paste.

Much of the paste is on the nearly-cardboard figures in the command center. They speak a bunch of dialogue. It's not that the dialogue is lacking, so much as it is the characters are dull. There's not one with personality.

Edward Norton plays the head honcho in the command center, but he is tied down, giving a slew of commands, as he tries to terminate Cross and other agents who represent a program he is shutting down.

One military officer says to the honcho, "You're not saying much of anything."

Norton is all shirt and tie.

The Bourne Legacy starts with little momentum, but it speeds up as Cross becomes a whirling dervish of self-preservation.

He gets involved with Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), whom he knows from her past work on him, when she only knew him as "Number 5." "I was there for the science," she exclaims. But she has to go on the run with Cross, who desperately needs meds.

Renner makes a stolid but potent Aaron Cross - a fierce action hero. He has hints of evolving humanity. His stony expression has an occasional crack of a smile.

Renner is commanding and credible as the rogue agent on the run. He has to elude wolves, lethal drones, packs of pursuing agents, and a super adversary (another one-dimensional figure) created by the agency.

One may miss Julia Stiles, but Rachel Weisz is a fine actress. As the biochemist in peril, she has emotion and depth. Rachel Weisz knows what it is to be a replacement hero like Renner's Cross. [She's married to Daniel Craig.]

Ed Norton has a thankless role. He glares at screens and gives a lot of orders. He definitely misses fight club.

Tony Gilroy is the director of The Bourne Legacy. Gilroy participated in the writing of the three previous Bournes. He and his brother Dan co-script the latest version.

Gilroy calms some of previous director Paul Greengrass' frenetic camera. He employs moments of cleverness, e.g., the opening in which Aaron - like Jason - affects a waterscape pose.

His direction is erratic in its own way. Some of his action sequences are compelling, but his ending may seem anti-climactic.

It comes after a motorcycle chase through the crowded streets of Manila. It's full of blurs and flashes, accompanied by the relentless loud roar of speeding vehicles. It seems pat. A chase sequence on Mars may be all that's left.

But overall, The Bourne Legacy moves on, and takes us on a spirited journey. Stow your baggage, and it's a trip well worth taking.

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