The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Bourne Legacy

With three movies over a five year span, the Bourne trilogy starring Matt Damon was a spy series with its own personal style, a James Bond for a new, younger movie-going audience. There was an odd perfection in those movies and all their frenetic, generally crazy pacing. But following the last movie in the trilogy, 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum, Damon said he wanted out. Never one to give up on a successful series, Hollywood basically remade The Bourne Identity. Anyways, here's 2012's The Bourne Legacy.

Working with a top secret program funded out of the C.I.A. called 'Outcome,' secret agent and killer Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) tests off the charts compared to the agency's other agents. A product of some medical advancements, Aaron is smarter, quicker and stronger. His superiors (Stacy Keach and Edward Norton among others) though are in some serious trouble, their operations possibly coming into the limelight because of Jason Bourne's "treacherous" actions. Rather than face serious legal repercussions if their own actions are revealed, they torch Outcome, killing everyone involved. Aaron is among the targets but escapes. Now he's looking for some answers, starting with another survivor of the burn, Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz).

I'm not sure where to start with this quasi-Bourne movie. I went in with some expectations if not especially high ones. The Damon trilogy is the rare trilogy that I thought improved with each passing movie. 'Identity' is pretty damn good on its own so that's saying something. Once Damon wanted out though, the series/franchise has to take a twist. I can't help but wonder how director Tony Gilroy's film would have done without the 'Bourne' moniker floating over its head. Knowledge of the first three movies will certainly help, but it's not essential going into this 2012 sequel. Sorry to say though I came away highly disappointed with this newest venture. Building off the Bourne name and success, sure, there's potential, but it ends up being one big, boring, repetitive mess.

Clocking in at a very long 135 minutes, 'Legacy' is 16 minutes longer than any of the previous three movies.....and that IS NOT a good thing. This is a story that needed tightening up. The first hour is sluggish even as we bounce all over the world in a convoluted circle of information, worried looks, and menacing stares. I suppose somewhere in there was an explanation for the story, but I missed it. Long story short? Treadstone, Blackbriar and now Outcome all top each other, one agency becoming more efficient and effective than its predecessor. On the whole, the issue is simple. This is a movie that drifts far too much. The three Damon ventures are frenetically paced to the point where you feel like running home after seeing them. Not here. I was bored, legitimately bored, and counting down the minutes until it was over.

So there's the issue. It seems that Gilroy (who also co-wrote the script) wanted to use the Bourne moniker to get people in the door but from there on in was going to distance itself from those previous films. Unfortunately, the story is basically a rehash of The Bourne Identity. Everything...everything feels like we've seen this before right down to the government war rooms, action scenes, and never-ending chases. In the process somewhere, there must have been an ending too, but it didn't make the final cut. Impressive action scene ends, Cross is semi-happy and cue Moby's Extreme Ways. Oh, oops, my bad. I guess the movie is over. There is no resolution, and not even a huge jumping off point for a sequel. The movie just ends. That's all.

Continuing to springboard off his success from The Hurt Locker, Renner is a very solid lead as Aaron Cross. First off and most important, he doesn't try to be Jason Bourne. He's his own man/character. Aaron's background seems wasted though. There's a layer in there about how he came to be an agent and why he's so driven now that is highly interesting, but nothing much comes of it. Either way, Renner is the best thing going for her. Weisz is a fine actress, but she's nearly unbearable here; shrill, loud and in full-on damsel in distress mode. Norton is the biggest waste here, given NOTHING to do, as Outcome's director while Keach has to look mean and growl. Previous Bourne actors Scott Glenn, Joan Allen, Albert Finney and David Straithairn are around for brief, blink and you'll miss parts. Louis Ozawa Changchien is very cool as Larx 3, an assassin without the glitches of previous agents while Oscar Isaac is memorable as paranoid Outcome Agent No. 3 who a curious Aaron meets early on.

The action for the most part is disappointingly and surprisingly kept in the background, much of it saved for the finale, a foot-turned-motorcycle chase in the crowded streets of Manila. While the stunts are impressive, they still have that rehashed feel to them. That's the movie. There are some very cool moments -- Aaron manipulating a tracker in a unique way via an animal, Aaron's explanation of his past -- but they never amount to anything. Very sorry to give this a low rating if for nothing else than the original three movies set the bar so high. Renner is a good choice to take the reins, but that's about it here.

The Bourne Legacy <---trailer (2012): **/****

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