Sunday 19 August 2012

Review: The Bourne Legacy

Year: 2012
Director: Tony Gilroy
Screenplay: Tony Gilroy, Dan Gilroy
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton

Synopsis is here

My problem with The Bourne Legacy is that it's so interested in it's lofty themes, it completely forgets about getting the basics down. There's a kernel of a decent film which is lost amid a pool of lacklustre motivation, uninteresting characters and bland story. All that isn't supposed to matter because GUNFIGHTS AND CHASES. Unfortunately; we've seen all that before, with the first three Bourne films. Those films also had the decency to give you something tangible to hold on to while you rode the roller-coaster.

As I said before there are a few points of interest within The Bourne Legacy. One of them is the idea of soldiers being created with less remorse, making them more efficient killers in the field while losing the compassion that compasses their humanity. The film references this twice. Firstly; when a our new Jason Bourne, Alex Cross (Renner) meets another agent at a remote outpost, sent there because he "fell in love". Secondly in a admittedly impressive motorcycle chase sequence, an enemy agent grunt who is "tradestone with none of the inconsistency, appears and goes Terminator on our heroes. The idea that the genetic science that may have created Jason Bourne is now being used to zone out emotional capacities is something I would find fascinating in a movie, particularly in one like this in which does show some promise with dialogue that doesn't feel like it's been processed for teenagers. Placing a pharmaceutical company the way the film does as the antagonist also gives the film a 70's thriller vibe and maturity that you may not get with your vampire hunters or even Avengers.

Problems arises however, when you realise that Alex Cross is just not Jason Bourne and the so called legacy looms large over the entire project. We are told every early on by an uninterested Edward Norton, to forget about Jason Bourne. But Bourne's search for his identity (as well as his humanity) give him a clear purpose. Here; we're given a bland goal of having to get "chems" or else. This wouldn't be a problem if Cross was a character worth following. The same goes for the antagonists chasing him down. There seems to be little at stake for everyone involved. Whatever stake that is negated, doesn't feel worth bothering about.

The film doesn't make good on its terms, starting very slowly, almost to the point of tedium, before wandering aimlessly (the middle being punctuated with well structured but ultimately meaningless action set pieces) and finishing abruptly, with the main narrative being nowhere as interesting as the subtext the film mentioned. Renner and Weisz sell their roles well but I found myself constantly arguing the point of the whole thing with myself. When you do that, your not enjoying the movie.