The Bourne Legacy (2012)

So I took in the latest in the Bourne series yesterday, The Bourne Legacy, with Jeremy Renner taking the lead as a new character to be introduced into the expanded film universe originally created by Robert Ludlum, and brought to life on the big screen with Matt Damon as Jason Bourne.

Renner plays Aaron Cross, another trained assassin of the Treadstone variety, but under a different side program, known as Outcome.

When the events of Bourne Ultimatum, including the death of Guardian reporter Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) and Bourne’s return to the States, threaten to expose everything these programs have created, especially with Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) planning to testify before congress, Eric Byer (Edward Norton) decides its time to clean house completely, go to ground, and stay quiet until they can start again. This plan means the elimination of not only all of Treadstone, Black Briar, and Outcome, but all the side projects, and all those involved.

The film also looks to expand the mythology of the universe, so there is a lot of exposition front-loaded into the first half of the film. This may turn some viewers off, especially those who want to see the fast hand to hand combat, and chase sequences that the series have become known for. It’s ok, there’ll be some nice sequences in the second half.

We learn that these agents are on meds, or chems as Cross calls them, to boost their physical and mental abilities. Part of this is overseen by geneticist Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), and is to her that Renner decides to pay a visit, after surviving an attempt to kill him(and gives a nice little action sequence in a gorgeous house/set that serves as Shearing’s home). We learn that Bourne was taken off the meds long before even the events that directly preceded the first film, so why is Cross so adamant to get them?

I found the revelation of his motives to be solid and honestly, I could believe it, at least enough to let it not interfere with my enjoyment of the movie.

With Shearing in tow, Cross attempts to track more of his chems, while eluding those who would wipe him, and the good doctor out completely.

Renner seems to be everywhere lately, and he seems quite at home in this role, and I do hope he’s around for a couple of more. He brings a different vibe to the film, not so straight-laced and troubled as Damon’s character, he knows who and what he is, and now, just wants to survive.

Weisz, in my opinion, has always been a solid actor, and, I’ve found inherently likable, she just seems like a nice person, and I’ve never had a problem believing her to be who her character is in any of the roles of seen her play.

Norton is menacing as Byer, and unlike some of the suits we’ve seen in the first three films, seems younger and fitter, and I hope at some point, we can see him square off against Renner’s Cross.

The film is also populated by characters introduced in previous films, in addition to Joan Allen’s Pamela Landy, we see the return of Scott Glenn as Kramer, David Strathairn as Vosen, and Albert Finney as Hirsch.

Tony Gilroy, who had his hand on the scripts of the first three films, writes this one with his brother Dan, and climbs into the center seat to direct. I was ok with this, having been involved in the series from the beginning he seems like a reliable person to entrust to continue overseeing the films for the time being.

There’s less shakey cam this time around, some people may be disappointed, some may be happy, I was okay with it. It’s a new story, new character, same world, it should be different.

Though to contradict myself, I did miss John Powell’s score this time around. James Newton Howard takes over composing duties, though he does pay homage to some of the music cues from the previous films, and of course Moby gives us another updated version of Extreme Ways for the end credits.

As mentioned, there isn’t as much action this time around, though there are some well put together sequences, Cross’ escape from a drone near the film’s beginning by making use of the local wild life, and a fantastic foot and then motorcycle chase through Manila.

And let me rave about that motorcycle chase for a moment, it’s through packed streets, there is traffic and people everywhere. To me, it felt like a sequence I had never seen before. In most chases, on roads and highways, you can tell that the other cars are all moving in a set way to allow the main vehicles to whip and move around them. It didn’t feel like that this time around, these streets are packed, and the motorcycles are constantly moving and swerving through busy traffic.

The ending has already been spoken of as an almost non-entity. You know what? You could say that of all of the films so far, they’ve been a pause, a chance to catch your breath, get ready, and dive into the next part. Now, that may be a bit arrogant to think they are going to get another sequel, but I hope they do, because I would really like to see Damon return to the series and see what happens when Bourne and Cross meet…

In the end The Bourne Legacy is a solid entry into the series, though it may also be the weakest of them so far, but it will serve as a bridge to allow us to focus on Cross and his dilemma.

It’ll also hold me over on the spy thrilller/actioner front until November when it’s time for Skyfall.

What did you think of it?

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