The Bourne Legacy Reviews
Solid cinematography and decent editing salvage this film from the slow pace in the first half-hour. A shame that the great acting by all involved didn't revolve around a more compelling script.
Sneaking up from the screenwriters' seat to the directors' chair replacing predecessors Doug Liman and Paul Greengrass , series veteran Tony Gilroy's intimate familiarity with the series texture, background and characters is superbly utilized in this next (but obviously not final) installment.
Collaborating with his brothers; Dan on the screenplay and John in editing, The Bourne Legacy is a crisp and fast action-thriller. Grounded with a strong sense of drama and a palpable sense of urgency, viewers never lose track of where they are, or the context of what they are watching.
Bristling with talent, the exemplary production team stunningly captures the grandeur of the Canadian Rockies (posing as the Alaskan wilderness) and the fluid movement of its heroin's adrenaline riddled escapades (by car, by parkour and by motorcycle) whilst maintaining a concise well-paced story.
Lodged between the events of installments two and three, Bourne Legacy sees the American intelligence community reeling from the actives of their AWOL rouge assassin Jason Bourne. The morally contentious super-secret Treadstone project - which saw nine trained assassins genetically altered to increase their pain threshold, speed, stamina and cunning, has been compromised.
To avoid further indiscretions and minimize the growing public scrutiny, senior ranking official ex-Air Force Colonel Eric Bayer (Edward Norton) commands an immediate and complete elimination of all other elite, ultra-intelligent, profoundly powerful, remarkably resilient field participants in a related Defense Department program called Operation Outcome.
On a punishment assignment for not following required medical protocol, solo Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is deposited in the wilds of Alaska on a survival skills test. With a dwindling supply of "chems" that maintain his enhanced abilities, Cross makes his extreme mountaineering way through the freezing conditions and wolf-infested terrain only to arrive at his rendezvous point to face anonymous execution at the hand of his employers.
Purging the entire program, the bio-chemist's at the behavioral science unit that fabricated the wonder drugs fall victim to a college's berserk on a shooting rampage and only microbiologist Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) survives the attack.
Desperate to replenish his supply of green and blue pills and maintain his accustomed state of enhancement, Cross pilgrimages to his only contacts home in Maryland, only to find a team of agents attempting to finish Shearing off. Saving the ever terrified doctor, Cross relises she has nothing to offer in the way of treatment, or does she?
Can they evade the CIA bureaucrats and their ever present pursuers? Does he really need constant meds or can something be done to lock in his boosted state permanent? Or will they simply become collateral damage at the hands of someone ever more powerful?
Where the first three installments seemed like an urgent pulsating mess of confusion and shaking camera pictorial rubble, Bourne Legacy has an ingrained intensity conveyed through anchored thoughtful and viscerally engaging performances, especially from capable heir apparent Jeremy Renner.
The defecting Damon was always rather insipid and had a certain disingenuous introspection as the series lead protagonist Jason Bourne which is in stark contrast to the still surprisingly anonymous but perfect action-man Renner's focus, courage and natural charisma.
Renner's intensity to do all his own sheer-rock-face climbing, rooftop leaping, motorcycle acrobatics and wolf-fighting stunts creates an interesting juxtaposition with his sincere vulnerability and although the Cross character is endowed with merely droplets of a backstory, Renner makes his character genuinely appealing.
As Renner commands the action, zigzagging effortlessly through the films continuous chaos, his leading lady hangs on for dear life. Looking genuinely petrified in some scenes (and was according to insider speculations) Weisz is a calculated and smart addition. Her intrinsic naturalness to spout copious amounts of intellectual jargon whilst remaining agile enough to jump on the back of a bike, close her eyes and allow the world around to blur into a mess of action makes her a creditable asset with real substance.
The Verdict: Merely a bridge between one franchise to another, Bourne Legacy hints there is more adventures killing off CIA brainchild's still to come and the geyser of profits will not be stoppered by a lethargic lead or general logic. In a world where "there never was just one", Jeremy Renner- the spy who replaced me- genuinely does it better.
Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 24/08/2012
Number 5 (Jeremy Renner) is an asset under training of a secretive superspy development program called 'Outcome' similar to 'Treadstone'. All the agents under training are dependent on physical and mental enhancement genetic cell alteration drugs that keep them together who undergo periodic full evaluation based on their blood samples. Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) is a senior doctor in a facility that coordinates and research on the enhancement drugs. When an arbitrary incident triggers a paranoia in the top brass on a possibility of media exposure, Eric (Edward Norton) takes charge to suspend these operations which includes termination of all the agents and people associated with it systematically. Number 5 and Marta are survivors of different incidents and together goes off the grid.
Using Bourne as a context might add weight to box office opening but also increases the expectation level which is where this one fails miserably. Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz are no doubt competent actors, but after an initial burst of an intense scene together they become rather monotonous. Edward Norton as a star definitely adds weight but was missing as an actor. A similar theme has been done in many other movies, some done a lot better and convincingly - so this one hardly has a chance to standout. The bloated runtime, seen it before ending does not help either.
It made sure there cannot be further extension to the already elongated yarn