Big Screen Review :: The Bourne Legacy

August 24th 2012

Can anyone else think of a movie other than The Bourne Legacy that does not feature its title character? What we have here is kind of a plan D after Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass declined a dump truck full of unmarked bills from the good people at Universal Pictures to make another movie featuring Jason Bourne, so instead they hired Tony Gilroy, who worked on the previous films, gave him the dubious title of ‘narrative architect’, and got him to write what I am calling a sidequel. It’s a movie that overlaps The Bourne Ultimatum and features some of its cheaper and less picky supporting actors.

Looking at the trailers for this I had hoped that they had found some ingenious, organic way to expand the story. Not so much. Basically when Bourne went off the reservation the guys in suits with fancy haircuts had to burn down not just the “Treadstone” program, but also a bunch of their other dodgy programs, because, if I understand this correctly, they found some video on Youtube where Albert Finney gives a toast at some guys birthday party. This includes a program called ‘Outcome’ that scientifically enhances the physical and mental abilities of super spys like Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross, by making them regularly take a couple of pills. Of course they cock it up though and soon Cross is on the run with a scientist played by Rachel Wiesz.

Cross desperately needs to score more superman pills or else he will turn into an idiot. See he is a super fit genius, but before he took the pills, he was several IQ points too stupid to enter the US army. Think about that. Ever wondered what happens when you cross a spy movie with ‘Flowers for Algernon’? Me neither.

The original Bourne trilogy are classics of their genre but this one is a long way off their pace. There isn’t a great deal of story but the movie struggles to generate any momentum, taking forever to get going and running way too long. It opens with a poorly paced and confusing half hour of Cross farting around in Alaska while the end of The Bourne Ultimatum plays out, and struggle to engage from there on in. Only a pretty great car chase in Manila brings the movie to life just in time for it to end. Edward Norton take the crucial role of Government Guy Who Points At Various Screens and is Outraged By What He Is Watching. He is pretty great. Renner and Wiesz too are both terrific actors working hard to make the movie work. Its failure, then, really comes down to Gilroy, who has a pretty impossible task of trying to match the earlier films without the benefit of much of what made them so good. Introducing the sci-fi like medications was bold, but ultimately stupid. I’m not convinced that this would be the best use of this amazing technology and it always felt out of place. Like it belonged in a different movie. In the end the whole thing reeks of desperation. As a spy movie its passable I guess, but as a Bourne movie, it’s destined to be an afterthought.


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