Gallows‘ Lee Barratt is back again, reviewing the latest releases, meaning that your decision about what to watch next Orange Wednesday isn’t a tricky one. Have a read of what he made of the latest Bourne installment, The Bourne Legacy.
“There was never just one…” says the tagline. And they’d be right as Jeremy Renner fills the big hole left by Matt Damon in the latest addition to the mega popular franchise based on Robert Ludlum’s best selling books.
All but written off by those people afraid of change (and trust me, I know there’s a lot of them), ‘The Bourne Legacy’ picks up during the events of ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ as covert CIA operations Treadstone and it’s successor Blackbriar are in danger of being exposed after Bourne’s actions. Series newcomer Eric Byer (Edward Norton) realising the danger of the situation, orders that sister project Operation Outcome also be shut down and that means the termination of all representative agents including Aaron Cross (Renner) who is surviving out in the Alaskan wilderness.
After foiling Byer’s assassination attempt, Cross returns to the US to find more of the pills needed for him to maintain his physical and mental performance. Outcome has altered two of his chromosomes to produce a better form of agent that can heal faster from physical injury and cut out any inconsistencies that previous Treadstone agents would suffer from. He turns to his field doctor, Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), herself the only survivor of a mass killing spree at the lab she worked at, ordered by Byer to dispose of any evidence or witnesses from the Outcome program. The killing spree in the lab is quite shocking and easily the most violent part of the movie. With Byer trying to track them down, Cross and Shearing team up and secretly travel to Manila where she hopes to “viral out” Cross so he no longer has to rely on pills to stay in peak condition.
Without doubt, this has all the elements of a Bourne film but lacks the uniqueness that invigorated the action thriller genre when ‘The Bourne Identity’ was released. The shaky cam rooftop, motorbike and car chases that were spectacular in the original ‘Bourne’ are all here in abundance but now lack that little bit of sparkle as every one from James Bond to this year’s ‘Safe House’ have nicked the same ideas for their own benefit.
That being said, the action still looks great with the scenes in Alaska standing out as some of the best of the franchise. Anyone who saw ‘The Grey’ earlier this year will appreciate the fact that Renner manages to outsmart a wolf and give it a good kicking in the meantime before faking his own death. In fact, if the Bourne series is to continue then Renner is the lynchpin to rely on. It’s been a break out year for the star who’s already had hits with ‘Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol’ and as Hawkeye in ‘The Avengers’.
Whereas I always thought Damon’s Bourne was a little too cold and calculating, Aaron Cross doesn’t have that emotional detachment and is a more welcoming character. The downside of that is he may be not as compelling to the audience. That emotional core doesn’t mean he’s soft but his relationship with Shearing is essentially the heart of the movie and as much time is spent on their plight as there is on cracking skulls. Despite some awkward over acting at times by Weisz, the two carry the “us against them” motto for most of the last half of the movie with ease. Norton is callous but never too much of a threat when stuck behind a rack of computers and the tension only racks up towards the end when he sends another deadly agent from an undisclosed operation in Bangkok to find Cross and Shearing.
‘Bourne’ fans will forever argue whether another movie needed to be made and ‘Legacy’ may not entirely convince them. It has the familiar feel of the Bourne films but without an extensive plot, it feels a little lightweight compared to the three that have come before. Judged on its own merits though, it is an entertaining thriller and a solid extension of an existing quality set of movies. The abrupt ending doesn’t really reveal whether we’ll be seeing more of Cross in the future but the prospect of a team up between him and Bourne somewhere down the line is one that may be too tantalising for film executives to turn down.
For more of Lee’s film thoughts, you can check out his review blog here.