Published on August 15th, 2012 | by Matthew Gammond1
The Bourne Legacy: Review
The Bourne Legacy is a pure embodiment of one of Hollywood’s biggest problems. Cast your mind back over the last few years of cinema and ask yourselves how many remakes, reboots and unwanted sequels have been churned out, seemingly with no purpose other than to milk a cash cow.
Of course, it’d be ridiculous of me to suggest that people in Hollywood are not attempting to make money; this is the 21st Century, this is business. However, this doesn’t stop the product that they create from being poor.
The latest outing in the Bourne series is one such film. There were distinct murmurs of disapproval amongst the film community when it was announced, and with good reason; surely the original Bourne trilogy was good enough? Obviously not, there’s money to be made here.
The Bourne Legacy charts the life of Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), another agent that is similar to Jason Bourne. But rather than being a prequel/sequel, this film runs parallel to the story of Matt Damon’s character, and the events of this film are triggered by goings on in the first movies.
And so, we are thrust into another cross-continental chase as Cross is hunted down by the very people that created him for all manner of reasons, none of which I will reveal here.
On the face of it, The Bourne Legacy functions in much the same way as Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum, but manages to stray just a little too far from the things that made that trilogy so great.
Matt Damon is out and in comes Hawkey- err I mean Jeremy Renner as the super secret awesome agent that dishes out thumping fist brutality and asks questions later. Renner is, perhaps, not quite as suited to this role as Damon was and lacks the ambience that made Bourne such a complex character. Cross doesn’t even get a word in until about half an hour has passed; instead we are treated to a hiking/climbing montage, back-dropped by some gloriously snowy mountains.
I think you are just kind of supposed to know who this guy is from the get-go, and a couple of hazey and vague flashbacks to his earlier days serve no aid in the pursuit of character development. He’s just another agent that’s caught up in a whirlwind of betrayal and controversy.
Poor him; good job he can fight back, right? Wrong. For an action film, The Bourne Legacy is remarkably devoid of anything that you could really class as action. There’s the odd shoot-out, fist fight and rooftop chase (lifted straight out of the original trilogy) but nothing that got my heart pumping. In fact, the finale, which featured a bike chase through crowded streets in the Philippines, was so dull and drawn out that I was wishing for it to end.
The majority of the two hour plus film is made up of Cross talking with his doctor friend Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) about medical problems and the philosophy of life. A lot of the sequences seemed to be included to build some sort of on-screen relationship (not necessarily physical) but I found them to be tedious and a bit of a chore to watch. The sudden “oh go on without me” act that Cross spontaneously creates is horrifyingly grating as it doesn’t suit the character and feels like it was included just to serve as the obligatory emotional moment.
This entire structure was incredibly boring at times; in fact, about an hour in, a group of four people left the cinema and never returned which is never a good sign. You practically begged for the action to happen, willing the film to get a move on. Again, this is not a good sign.
Weisz manages to pull of the irritable, bumbling and wailing sidekick role quite well but at times you wish for a bullet to land right between her eyes just so she’d shut up for a second. Admittedly, you’d expect someone in the situation she finds herself in to have those traits, but it can make for irritable viewing.
Other characters come and go, but the stand-out one for me was Eric Byer (Edward Norton). ‘That guy from Fight Club’ plays the part of the cool yet brutal antagonist very well, so much so that it’s hard for you to realise that he is the bad guy on the face of it. Like Michael Fassbender in Prometheus, it is this character that provides the film’s highlight; I found him to be a complex and intriguing person who was simultaneously struggling with the Cross issue, as well as a storm of other nastiness brewing from Bourne’s adventures.
It is those adventures, though, which are the best part of this series. Legacy feels like a tacked-on production and shares few of the same values as the originals. It lacks the action, plot and characters that made them so great.
Whether or not there will be a continuation I’m unsure, but things will need to be improved for definite. It has its good moments; there are a few glorious takedowns (which are very reminiscent of Bourne) and the aforementioned quality performance from Norton.
But the amazing lack of decent action is what really kills this film; nothing seems to happen for a long time, and then when it does it strays far from the par set by (I’m going to say it again) the original films. That is not right for a film that has “Bourne” in its title and I think that this is one series that Hollywood should have left as it was; a trilogy of brilliance. Now it’s a four piece that has, ironically, tarnished the legacy.
Summary: The Bourne Legacy is, without doubt, one of the biggest disappointments in cinema history. Coming in off the back of an amazing trilogy was never going to be easy, but it was hoped that the atmosphere of the original movies would be carried over. Alas, we are presented with a truly awful, dull and empty movie that gets just about everything wrong.