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Movie Reviews

The Bourne Legacy



Released: 2012

Directed By: Tony Gilroy

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz

Certificate: 12A

Reviewed By: Darryl Griffiths

In the year 2002, a new breed of super spy was unleashed in the form of amnesia sufferer Jason Bourne. With three barnstorming installments in the form of Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum respectively that were jam packed with smarts and raw action, it prompted many in the field to rethink their approach (Bond’s Casino Royale reboot a prime example). After Matt Damon’s and director Paul Greengrass’ dramatic bailout from the franchise, Universal could have easily followed the trend and rebooted the character. Instead, Tony Gilroy stepping up from scripter to helmer opts for the ‘Side-quel’ and implys Jason Bourne is just ‘the tip of the iceberg’..

Enter Jeremy Renner’s (Avengers Assemble’s Hawkeye) Aaron Cross. The narrative neatly intertwining his story within the timeframe of Bourne’s ‘resolution’, we’re introduced to Cross within the chilly confines of the Alaskan mountains. Physically enhanced by blue and green ‘meds’, his mere existence hinges on such consistent intake but he remains oblivious to the ongoing furore elsewhere.

Based in more appealling surroundings, Col. Eric Byer (Edward Norton) is dealing with the repercussions of Bourne’s exposing of the CIA’s shady operations (Treadstone/Blackbriar). Soon becoming common knowledge that their ‘program’ involves several operatives, they scramble to the conclusion it’s in dire need of being shut down. Cue the familiar objective of seek and eradicate their ‘human experiments’ from the map..

Whereas it’s predecessors were exhilarating, ‘Legacy’ is nothing short of pedestrian in its approach. Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) is not renowned for providing the thrills and here he’s fatefully exposed. The action sequences are in remarkably short supply, surprising considering the series’ reputation. The unsatisfying and almost lifeless serving here are the cinematic equivalent of ‘rations’ with the camerawork awfully choppy to boot. Such is the case, it may have you crying out for another round of Greengrass’ shaky cam..

Gilroy’s indulgence for extracting plot fragments from the series’ predecessors, coupled with the director teasing to add layers to the CIA’s already fragile reputation initially encourages. However, the plot suffers from becoming increasingly convoluted as the film ploughs on and many narrative threads referred to early on eventually are disregarded. In particular, Renner’s on going addiction to pills in order to recharge his batteries wouldn’t look out of place in a Playstation game.

Legacy’s saving grace is that it is undeniably well acted. Renner’s Cross was always going to be deemed a pale imitation of Damon’s Bourne, but he’s certainly a lean and mean substitute despite the half-baked backstory. Rachel Weisz’s gutsy scientist Dr Marta Shearing who becomes a crucial part of Renner’s journey is an engaging protagonist and whilst he lacks the simmering powderkeg quality of Joan Allen’s Pam or David Strathairn’s Noah, Edward Norton is as reliable as ever as Byer.

Needlessly complex and overlong, the film ultimately disappoints. Whilst admirable in trying to provide a genuine continuation to the series, ‘Legacy’ is simply not as tightly plotted nor as thrilling as the original trilogy and only sporadically shows glimpses of matching the audience’s hefty expectations.

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