Monday, 27 August 2012

The Bourne Legacy

Running parallel in time to The Bourne Ultimatum, The Bourne Legacy stars Jeremy Renner as black ops operative Aaron Cross. After completing a gruelling hike across the Alaskan wilderness, Cross arrives at an isolated cabin where he meets a fellow operative (Oscar Isaac). Due to events elsewhere, linked to the plot of the first film in the series, the people running the secret Operation Outcome of which Cross is a member decide to shut it down by killing all staff involved. A drone attacks Cross but he manages to escape and tracks down scientist Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) who he hopes can lead him to stocks of the pills he needs to remain a superhuman.

With a plot that I didn’t fully understand and some decent action set pieces, The Bourne Legacy is a film that is not without some merit but overall I could probably have lived without seeing.

The film feels like two very distinct halves with the meeting point coming when the two central characters of Renner’s Aaron Cross and Weisz’s Marta Shearing meet for the first time at her house. The first act is a back and forth affair between Renner in Alaska, showing what he is capable of physically and mentally and Edward Norton’s character in an office trying to put an end to Renner and his kind. The dichotomy between the two military styles couldn’t be more different. Renner is in the field, battling the elements with a rifle while Norton is in a secure compound surrounded by monitors and soldiers flying remote drones with joysticks. It is very much a clash between old and new only Renner has been bought into the modern world and perhaps beyond it with the use of viral medication which enhances his physical and mental capacity.

The scenes with the drones hunting down Renner were amongst my favourites for the coldness and lack emotion given to the killing as well as Renner’s ability to outsmart them. A scene shortly after which really shocked me was when the Scientists were being killed. To me it felt incredibly callous and realistic. Scarily so. After that the film levels out a bit before my favourite scene in which Renner and Weisz first meet. This was the highlight of the film for me and although some of the stuff in Manila was good, it didn’t match this scene for me.

I thought that the film managed to catch the essence of the Bourne series but was different enough to be a stand alone movie. I was pleased that the shaky cam was often put back in its mounts but some of the chase scenes were still too much for my eyes to take. Unfortunately in an attempt to link to the previous films a lot of material from them was mentioned. A lot of this went over my head or confused me as although I saw the other films, I can’t remember much about them and certainly don’t remember names like Treadstone and Blackbriar. Whenever things like that were mentioned it just distracted me from the film I was watching. I’d like to have seen a little more distance between this and the previous films. What I did enjoy was the scientific side of what was being done as well as the ethical questions it raised. This was something which was largely lacking from the previous films.

I thought that Jeremy Renner was excellent as a replacement/next generation Jason Bourne. He had enough humour and emotion to make him feel accessible and almost like he never truly belonged in the programme but also had the wits, brawn and firepower to show you that he truly did. Rachel Weisz was good, taking a step back into mainstream Hollywood after several years pursuing more artistic films. I also thought that Edward Norton was good as the behind the scenes puppet master. He played his role really well. The direction was good, as I’ve said reeling in the shaky cam a little more than Paul Greengrass but still giving us shots that make us feel part of the action. The motorcycle chase sequence was very well done and I especially enjoyed the shoe close ups and shots from inside passing cars which really gave a sense of the speed of the chase. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Terminator 2 during that sequence though as Cross is chased down by the next generation of himself, a man who never relents, even when shot. It just reminded me of Arnie and the gang trying to escape from Robert Patrick’s T-1000.

Overall The Bourne Legacy in no way lets down the franchise and was a clever way to move away from the Damon/Greengrass films while staying in the same universe. The action is top notch and the plot although confusing at times, brings up some interesting questions and ideas. This isn’t a film I’m in a rush to revisit though, unlike the first three which I’d like to see again someday.       


No comments:

Post a Comment