Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Bourne Legacy

Directed by Tony Gilroy.
2012. Rated PG-13, 135 minutes.
Michael Chernus
Corey Stoll

For three movies we've watched the exploits of Jason Bourne as various secret government agencies try to get rid of him. What we didn't know was that happening concurrently with The Bourne Ultimatum, Aaron Cross (Renner) is having the same problem. Yes, he’s also one of the super soldiers created by Green Brier, Black Stone, pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, green clovers or something. By this point, I can’t keep track. The important part is that the program is shutting down which means all of the little science projects running around, including Cross, have to be terminated. This seems easy enough. They just switch the meds that made these guys and gals super with a lethal pill that kills them a short while later. Luckily for him, our hero is out in the field and through a narrow escape of cruder attempt on his life by the same people, figures out what’s going on. After getting back to civilization, he rescues Dr. Marta Shearing (Weisz). She works for the program, but the powers that be want her dead, too. He hopes she can help him “viral off,” or make it so he no longer needs the meds to keep being a bad-ass. This is Bourne flick, so you know what ensues.

Thoroughly weaving in the plot-line of the star no longer with the franchise is an interesting tactic. For the most part, it works as it fosters the idea that The Bourne Legacy takes place in the same universe as the rest of the movies. This could very well have been going on at the same time. The problem with this is that we’re reminded of Matt Damon every few minutes for much of the film. The entire series is synonymous with him and his character, Jason Bourne. The title still bears his name. So even though Jeremy Renner is good in this movie, we can’t shake the felling we’re getting the knock-off label. It’s serviceable, but not the same as that name brand product.

Nostalgia for Matt Damon aside, TBL does many of the same things well as its predecessors. Action scenes are fast and brutal, shot in the franchise’s signature style. This includes some spectacular stunts. The numerous chase scenes are, of course, interspersed with guys in suits wringing their hands and trying to figure out what to do about their headache. It’s a formula that works, and they wisely stick to it.

Formula is a key word, though. There’s hardly a second of this movie that doesn't feel like it’s part of a well-beaten path. Well, there are the very early scenes when our guy meets another agent, the first time he’s ever met one. The two men have an interesting time together where they size one another up. After this little bit of intrigue passes, we leap wholeheartedly into an attempt at duplicating the films that came before. While still a somewhat fun adventure with enough to sate the action junkies, it’s a less satisfying experience. It doesn't seem like a continuation of the saga, but something to hold us over until they figure out what to do with the titular character.

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