Aug 20, 2012|
Back in 2007, when The Bourne Ultimatum seemed to have wrapped up the thriller trilogy on a high note, Universal Studios decided that the lucrative franchise must drag on—with or without Jason Bourne. With the departures of resident director Paul Greengrass and main-man Matt Damon, the proposed fourth installment struggled through a couple of rejected screenplays until trilogy screenwriter Tony Gilroy took the helm. Now, two years later than originally scheduled, The Bourne Legacy arrives, begging the question—why the hell should we care?
The only real reason perhaps is the charismatic new lead, Jeremy Renner. The 41-year-old Oscar nominee who proved his acting chops in the The Hurt Locker and The Avengers treads further down the action-hero path with the role of Aaron Cross, an elite spy who finds himself in deep trouble. Co-writing and directing an original story that parallels Robert Ludlum’s bestsellers, Gilroy introduces a bigger conspiracy, in which the US Department of Defense runs a top-secret program code-named Outcome. Similar to CIA’s Treadstone, which produced Jason Bourne, Outcome has its own super soldiers who have to regularly take “chems” that enhance their intelligence, physical abilities and pain endurance. When the unseen Bourne returns to the States threatening to expose the existence of the project to the public, boss-man Col. Eric Byer (Edward Norton) shuts down the whole program and orders the killing of all the Outcome spies—but as always there’s one that gets away.
To maintain his enhanced state and save his own ass, Cross is in desperate need of chem supplies, which links his fate to that of government research scientist Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz). And boy does the junkie go to great lengths for a fix—after he rescues then semi-kidnaps Shearing, the pair land in Manila, where the chem source is located, and also where the movie falls into a downward spiral. If the first half-hour of the movie had the audience somewhat intrigued by the as-yet unclear circumstances, what goes down in Manila isn’t particularly worthy of their invested interest. There’s just too much that the plot doesn’t bother to explain. Soon enough, the climax takes place with an overlong motorbike chase.
Legacy is a pretty watchable action movie. The cast is strong, the score by James Newton Howard is fittingly neat and intense, and Robert Elswit’s widescreen cinematography, though too chaotic and in-your-face for the last 40 minutes, does have a handful of glorious moments. However, bearing the “Bourne” tag means Legacy has to answer to a higher standard, and it simply pales in comparison to the trilogy.