The Bourne Legacy Review

by Stephen Bourne (iamstephenbourne AT gmail DOT com)
August 17th, 2012

Review: The Bourne Legacy (2012)
USA, 135 minutes, Rated 14A (ON) 13+ (QC)
Reviewed 08/12, (c) Stephen Bourne

Playing out more as a Rambo-like peripheral story dubiously
given centre stage as it coincides with the events primarily
seen in three-time Oscar-winner The Bourne Ultimatum (2007),
the second sequel in this surprisingly tiresome contemporary
film franchise inspired by famed American author Robert
Ludlum's original spy novel trilogy that first saw print in
1980 with The Bourne Identity and that began on-screen with, well, The Bourne Identity (2002) followed by The Bourne
Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Legacy stars Jeremy Renner as a
US soldier turned drug-enhanced CIA operative - code named
Aaron Cross - hurtin' for meds and fillin' up body bags in
this relentlessly convoluted and boring big screen stinker
from director/co-writer Tony Gilroy.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not trashing this offering because
its story shares absolutely nothing beyond the title with
Ludlum Estate-picked author Eric Van Lustbader's 2004 book
The Bourne Legacy. No, no. This one delivers a special kind
of movie-going torture all on its own.

Sure, the contextual framework is clever at times. It's impressive how Tony and Dan Gilroy's screenplay seamlessly connects the big picture consequences of the last Bourne
flick with what happens here. If you've seen the previous
movies, you'll remember The Agency's covert Treadstone and Blackbriar programs. This installment covers their downfall
and cites the key players involved in brief scenes that
include a few familiar faces, linking all of that to a
similar program called Outcome that Cross is attached to.
I'm also not really dropping any spoilers by mentioning that
it's great how new character Eric Buyer (well played by
Edward Norton) bridges everything together in leading his
small team investigating and cleaning up the collateral
damage caused by Jason Bourne going rogue. Get it? That's Bourne's legacy. It adds nothing of value to the trilogy
starring Matt Damon, but that aspect is truly clever.

Beyond the big screen, the nicely designed and comprehensive- looking official website for this movie offers up your
chance to play spy in a game called Operation Intel, where
you can sign up, create your photo i.d. and then receive
mission updates and video dossiers via Facebook to
complete virtual intel assignments. Check it out:

Speaking of value, well, there's not much else. The failures
of The Bourne Legacy are many and start early, unfortunately. Calling out some of them would involve sharing too much, but there are a few points that can be mentioned safely enough.
Not once does the script bother to afford Renner the luxury
of giving his leading character much of a personality worth investing your time in. The opportunities were there, many
times, to have him react to this or that intense situation
with a facial expression or wry quip or something -
anything - consistently memorable to tap into beyond the
one or two sparse glimpses of humanity awkwardly doled
out. It's painful watching this otherwise fine actor
recognized for portraying personably scrappy human time
bombs struggle with the constraints of how narrow and
wooden his role is here. Those major problems combined
merely serve to erase any reason for you to care about
what happens to this Jason Bourne guy whose code name
and real name aren't Jason Bourne.

What's worse is that the ads and trailers give you the expectation going in that this over two hour screening will
be an action-packed, bare-knuckled roller coaster thriller
of must-see pure adrenaline from beginning to closing
credits. Well, those ads and trailers are all that. The
actual movie isn't. So much of The Bourne Legacy feels
plodding and bloated with pedantic filler that, whenever
Cross demands his meds from someone, you almost want to
raise your hand for a couple of extra strength caffeine
pills just to stay awake. Yes, it's that boring. The
fights and chases were far better in the comparably lousy
Haywire (2011).

Rachel Weisz delivers the only stand out performance here, despite not being given much more to work with than Renner
is, playing opposite him as traumatized love interest
Dr. Marta Shearing. Her efforts aren't enough, though.
Much of this story likely could have easily been presented
as a quick build up during the opening credits that might
have then opened up to a bigger actioner full of thrills
and double cross surrounding this new rogue operative
Cross. As it stands, it simply ends up being about an uninteresting junkie on the lam who just so happens to
have super secret spy skills that include the ability
to snap a lot of people in half without breaking a sweat.

Boring, pointless, empty and obviously attached to the
previous Bourne films merely to secure an easier sell to investors and ticket-buyers, The Bourne Legacy is little
more than a forgettably novel waste of talent that's
hardly even worth a free screening except to laugh at how
bad it is. Too bad. Reviewed 08/12, (c) Stephen Bourne

The Bourne Legacy is rated 14A by the Ontario Film Review
Board for use of expletives, occasional upsetting or
disturbing scenes, tobacco use, and violent acts shown
in clear, unequivocal and realistic detail with blood
and tissue damage, and is rated 13+ by la Regie du Cinema
in Quebec.


The Bourne Identity (2002)
The Bourne Supremacy (2004)


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Tags: The Bourne Legacy, Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz

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