Wednesday, August 15, 2012
The Bourne Legacy review
After the mess that Jason Bourne created by going rogue, the government agency (led by Edward Norton as Eric Byer) wants to shut down the programme by killing all similar agents. Cross is the only survivor, and he brings with him the only surviving scientist from the programme, Dr Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz).
I loved the opening act in Alaska, a cross between The Grey and a Bear Grylls survivalist TV show. It also sets up a nice metaphor about Bourne agents (Aaron Cross in this case) being both hunted and hunters: We see him pursued by wolves, and turning the tables on them, just as Jason Bourne did with his hunters. At first the shady conspiracy scenes were a treat; Intelligent actors squaring off with some great, loaded dialogue about passing the buck (“You broke it; you bought it”). But there are ultimately too many of these scenes and it hurts the pace. Director/writer Tony Gilroy seems to want to make a 70s conspiracy like The Parallax View (and Michael Clayton shows that he can do it well), but that’s a departure from what we want in Bourne films.
Super soldiers are very old-fashioned (I remember reading about them in GI Joe comics in the 80s): Modern warfare is all about drones (which make an appearance) and smart bombs these days. The film really springs into life when the analogue action kicks in: The action scenes are gritty, dizzying and genuinely tense, especially an extended chase scene in Manilla and a country house punch-up/shoot-out.
Renner is both charming and tortured as Cross, mixing an everyman with a superman convincingly. He and Weisz (essentially a damsel in distress) have great chemistry.
Thanks to its cast and set-pieces, The Bourne Legacy is effective overall, but it tries to be two films that are at odds with one-another (political conspiracy thriller and zippy action movie) and that’s just not feasible. There’s a really fantastic, super-lean 90-minute action film hidden within this not-bad, 2-hour-plus behemoth.