Film Review: The Bourne Legacy
Director: Tony Gilroy
Writer: Tony Gilroy (screenplay, story), Dan Gilroy (screenplay), Robert Ludlum (series, characters)
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Ed Norton, Stacy Keach, Donna Murphy
The events surrounding Jason Bourne spark off a chain reaction amongst the other programs under the C.I.A., leaving one agent on the run and fighting for his survival.
Going into the latest film in the Bourne franchise, I have to say that I’ve only seen the first two films in the original trilogy starring Matt Damon. That being said, I was curious to see if I needed any prior knowledge of events going into this movie, seeing as this was more of a spin-off film than a direct sequel with a new agent to follow. Aside from that, there was a lot to be excited about with this film. It stars Jeremy Renner, who last appeared in the summer mega blockbuster The Avengers, along with a few other actors I really like in Ed Norton and Rachel Weisz. However, being released near the end of the summer had me a little worried about the film, so would my apprehension be justified?
Quite honestly I would have to say yes. The Bourne Legacy has to be one of the most disappointing movies of the summer, but that isn’t to say that there are some positives to take from it. Before I get down to why this movie was such a disappointment, I’ll point out the movie’s one saving grace, and that would be the film’s star, Jeremy Renner. Renner brings some charisma to his character of Aaron Cross and makes him likable throughout the film. Personality wise, he’s a lot more upbeat than Jason Bourne, giving the series a fresh look, but he is very much the bad ass that Bourne was. This makes it easy for him to carry the entire film, despite being a totally generic character without much depth.
First off, this movie attempts to recreate the same feel of The Bourne Identity, for the character of Aaron Cross, to the point that the opening sequence and title card are meant to mimic Bourne Identity. From there, the movie tries to add a sense of mystery to his character, but it just doesn’t work. The problem is that this isn’t nearly as effective for the character of Aaron Cross as it is for Jason Bourne. At least with Bourne, there is a mystery for him to figure out exactly who he is and why he was found in the water with two gunshot wounds to his back. Here, there is no mystery on the same level for Cross as we already know he is an agent. The only mystery here was figuring out how he ties into the Bourne universe, and once it’s established, the movie just rolls along aimlessly, despite being an overly simplistic film of going from point A to point B.
There is no sense of direction in what this movie is trying to accomplish with the character of Aaron Cross. Unless they plan on going further with Renner’s character, Cross is just another rogue agent on the run fighting for survival, and the film spends very little time giving his character any such depth. The film tries to throw in flashbacks every now and then to develop his character, to show how his character ties in with Weisz and Norton. The flashbacks are short and only give a small insight into Cross’ background, but the biggest failing of them is that they’re just thrown into the movie without any proper introduction. They ended up feeling intrusive and obstructive to the film for me, personally.
This is also quite the long film. Despite its run time of two hours and sixteen minutes, it feels much longer than that. The Bourne Legacy is pretty much an overly simple film that is clearly broken down into three parts; unfortunately dragging its feet along for those three parts over two hours. Legacy spends its first act setting up the events that would lead to Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz on the run and it is, by far, the slowest and dullest part of the movie. The entire time I was restless and/or falling asleep, which is never a good way to start off a movie. The second act of the film gives the two a goal and the movie does pick up in its entertainment level. But there really isn’t much substance in the rest of the film; the entire third act sends the two on the run in the Philippines, which was an utter disappointment.
The climax of the film is completely anti-climactic and the worst shot chase sequence in the entire series. It all culminates into the biggest disappointment of a showdown between agents considering how Ed Norton’s group builds up the antagonist’s credentials. Tony Gilroy is no Doug Liman or Paul Greengrass, and though he does film some pretty neat sequences early in the film, he needs to learn how to pull back in car chases and action takes. I’m getting extremely tired of shaky close ups during these types of scenes, and though they give the sense of tension, a majority of directors overdo it to the point that whatever is happening on screen becomes too difficult to follow, as it is too chaotic.
Finally, the ending of this movie comes about rather abruptly and intrusively throws in short cameos by David Strathairn and Joan Allen. The cameos add nothing to the events of the current film and are only there to, once again, show how this movie ties into the Bourne universe, having nothing to do with the character of Aaron Cross. As for Cross himself, there is no real resolution to his character other than it appears for the time being he and Rachel Weisz’s character have escaped to the more remote islands in the Philippines. This is by far one of the sloppiest endings I have ever come across.
I did go into The Bourne Legacy with mild expectations of just how entertaining it could be, but I never thought the movie would be as bad as it is. There is very little to take in from this movie and it is a step down for the franchise. I do want to see if the filmmakers do decide to team Bourne and Cross together in another sequel, but unless they do go further with Aaron Cross, this is just an unwanted, aimless and useless spin-off film.
GO Rating: 2/5