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Questionable follow up to the Bourne trilogy that has the right pieces
in place but lacks the conviction to justify its existence. Taking
place almost at the same time of the climax of the third Bourne film
(Ultimatum), this film deals with the fall out of the exposure of
"Operation Blackbriar" and how an another agency with in the government
is trying to cover up their program in order not to be caught up with
the coming scandal create by Jason Bourne. "Outcome", the program in
question is an offshoot of both "Treadstone" and "Blackbriar" but with
a huge difference, they are tabbing into science to create super agents
that are faster and stronger than any other agent before them.
In order for me to tell you what is good about this movie, I have to explain what is wrong with it and that is the fact that you get the feeling fifteen minutes into the film that there is no reason for it to exist. The last film (Bourne Ultimatum) pretty much closed the book on the series, with little to no wiggle room for an encore. This movie feels like a studio trying to milk dried what was good from the original trilogy in order to make more sequels. The bad part is that they did it in the most unbelievable way, so much so that you really need to forget what you saw in the last three films in order to believe what was going on in this movie. Tony Gilroy (Who wrote the first three movies) directs and writes this one but falls flat on his face with halfhearted explanations that try to justify this movie's existence. Not to mention the fact that the villain of the movie is a lightweight compared to what came before him plus the glaring fact that Edward Norton's performance as the heavy is pretty much phoned in. He does not have the confidant arrogant swagger that Chris Cooper's character had in the first film nor the desperate menace of that Brain Cox's character brought to the second. Norton's character is more in line with the villain of the third, who was played by David Strathaim (who has a cameo in this film). However, Strathaim's character had a sense of justifiable menace that drove him, while Norton's character just seems like a man trying to justify his actions for the greater good, making him more of a government shill than a villain. The science fiction angle that comes up is insulting to what the last three films were, not to mention the fact that the direction here lacks the kinetic energy that Paul Greengrass brought to the last two movies of the series. Say what you may about the shaky camera work but he knew how to stage a thrilling action piece of pop art. Gilroy's motorcycle chase towards the climax is decent but lacks kinetic spark. He is however very good in staging small intimate moments within this movie but that is more a compliment to the A + cast (Mainly his two lead actors) than the terrible script that they are forced to working with.
Jeremy Renner is a talented actor with serious range and complexity. However, the character he plays is not much of a character and the script that he has to work with is riddled with cliché after cliché. He can do anything a secret agent can do but better but the character is not very compelling or interesting to say the least. Jason Bourne was a compelling character that needed to find himself and through that journey in the original trilogy, we saw complexities that were compelling and thoughtful. He was a conflicted man whose drive was dictated by an inner sense of redemption. The character of Aaron Cross is a cartoon character compared to Jason and that is the main problem of the script for this movie. It is though Renner's efforts as an actor that we care about the character of Aaron Cross and that is one of the few bright spots this film has. Renner injects likability and vulnerability to this character and because of it, we want him to succeed in beating the bad guy and save the girl but Renner is working with a script that goes against itself and we are left with a half fast story that deals with supermen than a human story about survival. It is through Renner's efforts as an actor that we see humanity and conflict in this character while the script itself does not give that sort of detail and Renner is working overtime to accomplish that. Renner would have done wonders with a compelling character like Jason Bourne, unfortunately that is not found with the character of Aaron Cross.
Rachel Weisz is one of the most versatile, gifted and complex actors working today. An actor's actor in every sense of word but like Renner, she does not have much of a character thanks to the cliché script they both have to work with. Her character is on the run with Cross through out the film and acts as his doctor and object of protection. It is through Weisz's amazing strength and range as an actor that we are able to witness levels of complexity and humanity in the character of Dr Marta Shearing that we really do not get from the script. Because of that, we are not only able to care and identify with her but Weisz actually makes her character more complex and interesting than Aaron Cross himself. You can tell that Weisz was working overtime in achieving that and her efforts pay off ten fold, which is a blessing considering that most of the characters outside of her and Renner come across as cardboard cutouts.
It is a shame because Renner and Weisz try their best and for the most part succeed despite all odds but they like the fans deserved better.
This is truly a case of great actors who are left out there in the cold
by a director, who essentially does not even try to respect them and
the audience's intelligence by giving them something original or
interesting. Tony Gilroy had written not only the first three Bourne
films but the great Michael Clayton as well but here, it is obvious
that he is on a destructive ego trip. Gilroy is more interested in
making people see on how smart he is as a scriptwriter and filmmaker
than actually try to entertain and stay true to what made the other
Bourne films special. With that destructive mind set, Gilroy forgets
that you need faith in your actors and the material they are working
with in order to drive the movie forward. Gilroy also commits the
biggest sin of all, which is to never underestimate the intelligence of
The script by Gilroy and his brother Dan tries to be cutting edge in scientific jargon and smart dialog but ends up with so many inconsistencies and flimsy characterization that you have to double back twice to see if Gilroy actually had a hand in the original "Bourne Trilogy". The characters in this film are only there to get from A to B and none of them with the exception of Rachel Weisz and Jeremy Renner (Who you can clearly see are both working beyond the call of duty to make something out of their paper-thin roles) has any real purpose at all. Poor Edward Norton is only there to bark orders and you can clearly see how frustrated he is with his role in certain scenes. The direction is not even very good, with pacing problems and a running time that excessively too long for its own good. The action scenes (The few of them in the film) do not jar well and are boring to say the least.
My advice to Universal, if there has to be a sequel, bring back Rachel Weisz and Jeremy Renner (Who both deserve medals for their efforts in making this lazy, self indulgent script work) and get rid of Tony Gilroy, who clearly does not respect anybody other than himself. You might have a better movie if you do.
The Bourne Legacy is the fourth installment of the Bourne franchise and
evolves around a new main protagonist, Aaron Cross. The story runs
parallel with the end of the third Bourne movie, and concerns itself
with the result of Jason Bourne's exposure of the Blackbriar program.
"Outcome", another government program, is trying to cover up themselves by eliminating their agents in order to not get pulled down by the coming scandal set in motion by Jason Bourne's actions. Outcome is an affiliate of Blackbriar and Treadstone, with one significant difference however. Their agents are chemically enhanced to be quicker, stronger and smarter, by ingesting a set of pills. This is where we meet Aaron Cross. Being hunted by his own agency, while trying to get the pills he so desperately need.
What makes this movie watchable is NOTHING but the performance of the lead actors, Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz. Both talented actors with great depth and experience. It is obvious that they are struggling to tap into the emotional vein of their characters, and the script taken into consideration, it is not strange. Despite this, Renner and Weisz manage to pull it off beautifully. This is no doubt due to the undeniable chemistry between the two. Weisz's sensitive and innocent character fits together beautifully with Renner's stoic, cold, and very charming character. Weisz in particular brings some much needed sensitivity to the movie, which otherwise would have been pretty boring to watch. She becomes Cross's object of protection, and it is because of her we even care about his attempt to find safety from his assailants. Without her, this would have been a movie about a man trying to find medicine. In short I have nothing but respect for these two people, and they do a wonderful job despite what would have otherwise been an insult to the series and the genre in general.
Regrettably Edward Norton's character as Eric Byer, the "bad guy" hunting for Aaron Cross seems spineless and unnecessary compared to the other two. This makes him annoying and superficial when he's on, and you can't help but get the feeling that he shouldn't be there. Compared to Chris Cooper's mysterious and secretive character as Conklin, the head of Treadstone from The Bourne Identity, Norton seems even more spineless and unnecessary.This is once again more of a critique of the script than of Edward Norton as an actor, since we know (from for example American History X and Fight Club) that Edward Norton can really act.
This is the kind of movie, where they show every single action sequence in the trailer. As you start watching the movie, you're wondering when it's ACTUALLY gonna start, and when it does start you're wondering what it's actually about. It's very hard to keep track of, and it seems to want to be two things at the same time. It is impossible to watch it without forgetting what you saw in the last three films, because it is so far from the original ones. It is like you are in a completely different universe, and it lacks the charm, mystique and wit that makes a "real" Bourne movie. Paul Greengrass managed to be innovative without compromising the dark, mysterious, kind-of-charming feel of the first movie. For whatever reason, Tony Gilroy has not. The Bourne Legacy is so far from the other three movies that it is hard to believe it's in the same "universe". At the same time it is impossible to understand the plot without keeping track of what happened in the original ones. That way it's trying to be two very different things, and ends up worming itself into a strange borderland between "Knight And Day" and "Quantum Of Solace" which leaves you puzzled to its existence, and unconvinced to its plot.
The movie does have some pretty decent action sequences with great effects, but lacks the storyline, motivation, drive and intimacy to justify them. They're redundant.
Towards the end of the two and a half hour ordeal that this movie really is, you find yourself not really caring anymore and just want it to end decently. And then the air goes out of the balloon with a poof. Out of nowhere the movie ends, with no conclusion, no explanation and no reason whatsoever for it to exist. You're left with a lot more questions than answers, and feel unsatisfied with what you've just seen.
Perhaps it was due to my high expectations that I couldn't enjoy this movie as much as I wanted, but I feel like i've seen enough to know what makes a great movie and distinguish between a good and a bad scripts. It's a real shame, because Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton are three of my favorite actors and I think they could have worked miracles with the right script.
In short, I have nothing but respect for the actors but don't feel like this is worthy of being called a Bourne movie.
I have never written a review here, but I felt compelled to actually
step up and defend this movie.
The Bourne Legacy was everything I expected it to be. It couldn't be too close to the previous Bourne films, but had to be close enough to let us know a storm is coming.
Bourne's presence throughout the film is what spins this story into action and I felt it was balanced perfectly. We all want Bourne, but this is Aaron Cross's story. Renner and Weisz were great, but I think the scripting has been derided by many as terrible. I had no issues with anything and even felt compelled by Renner's character motivation. This was someone yearning to be more, not someone who was already better than everyone else, but just couldn't remember.
Let's cross our fingers and hope we all get what we want and pair Bourne and Cross in the next film.
There is so much more going on than just Jason Bourne and if we don't get to explore that then the franchise will be poorer for it!
Pointless entry into the Bourne series finds Jeremy Renner and Rachel
Weisz taking over where Matt Damon left off in a sequel that lacks not
only a real purpose to exist but lacks a script that can justify the
movie as a continuation of the series. Tony Gilroy (who had a hand in
screen writing the original three films) writes and directs this entry
but forgets the showmanship and grace that Paul Greengrass and Doug
Liman brought to the series, not to mention the solid storytelling that
came with their efforts. Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz tried their
best with the weak material Gilroy provides for them and they almost
succeed, giving the audience something to care for but they are
fighting an uphill battle against cliché one dimensional characters,
dismal screen writing, a running time that needed to be edited down and
amateurish direction that does no one any favors. The rest of the cast
barely registers at all and the action is not even on the same level of
the other films in the series.
If any blame should go around, it should go squarely to Tony Gilroy and his brothers, who seem like they had no idea on what the hell they were doing and in the process, wasted the time of two great actors (Renner and Weisz) who are working beyond what is necessary to give the fans the respect they deserve for staying with the series. This was a hard thing to do considering that they are working with nothing in terms of support.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jason Bourne is one of the more intriguing film characters of the past
decade. He methodically and purposefully found out who he was, who was
responsible for his condition, and attempted to bring everything back
together again. Even better, he was not a superhero; Jason was just a
guy who went through a lot of training. He is elite, but deep down he
is still one of us. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), on the other hand, has
been tweaked a little bit. He pops pills to up his physical and mental
skills. Yes, he is still human too, but perhaps a bit genetically
modified. This splash of sci/fi does not help an audience tuned in to
the adventures of Jason Bourne connect with the new guy.
When I first heard there was another Bourne installment, this time without Matt Damon, I figured someone either wrote a good script to carry on a new story line, or the studio wanted to churn out a guaranteed cash cow under the title of a proved and successful action series. Writer/director Tony Gilroy wrote the scripts for the first three Bourne films, but this is his first time behind the camera in the series. He successfully directed Michael Clayton and the under- appreciated Duplicity, but now the magic is gone. The Bourne Legacy is stale.
Enduring a painfully slow beginning, The Bourne Legacy reveals it is set at the same point in time as The Bourne Ultimatum. In fact, if you have forgotten the plot points and supporting characters of the previous film, take the time to either watch it again or read about it online before heading into the new feature. Jason Bourne's escapades have thrown multiple CIA operations out in the open and the shadowy powers are frantically trying to sweep them under the rug before either Congress or the press start asking questions. Eric Byer (Edward Norton) orders the termination of Project Outcome, the new series of super agent represented by Aaron Cross. Instead of telling the agents to pack up and go home, the CIA chooses to assassinate them instead. Oh, and they try to wipe out all of the scientists who made them so super in the first place.
Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) is one of those scientists seeking ways to alter chromosomes to make a more perfect human. After surviving annihilation himself, Aaron conveniently scoops the good Dr. out of harms way which sets up an 'us against them' theme quite similar to the one you remember from The Bourne Identity. Unfortunately, The Bourne Legacy noticeably lacks the quality script and thrilling action sequences of that first film. The chase scenes in the new film are edited so atrociously, especially during motorcycle elements, that they are almost impossible to logically follow. You know they are weaving in and out of traffic, there are near misses, and flying bullets; but there are only quick glimpses of that on the screen in the midst of the unsteady camera work and split-second jump cuts.
The Bourne Identity also had a mystery to unravel and wandered around the world trying to find out who was behind the curtain. There is no curtain now, Edward Norton is pulling the strings in plain sight using all of the means in the intelligence community he can lay his hands on. There are armed Predator drones, devious mop-up CIA killing squads, and even a possible super- duper agent; imagine the Schwarzenegger Terminator battling the new T-1000.
Renner and Weisz do their best to remake a film which was already pretty great. Yes, they have new names and faces, but they are running from the same agency, dodging the same bullets, but this time they have a higher chromosomal level on their side. The Bourne Legacy will be known as that film which derailed the very respectable Bourne franchise. Paul Greengrass, the director of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, was correct when he said any further film would feel like The Bourne Redundancy.
There is never just one. We've reached our fourth globe-trotting
adventure based on the novels of the late Robert Ludlum, and the first
without former series lead Matt Damon as the enigmatic superspy Jason
Bourne. With its name taken from a 2004 installment not actually penned
by Ludlum, The Bourne Legacy explores the ripple effect of the events
that played out in The Bourne Ultimatum. While little could be done to
cushion the drop in quality that was bound to come with well, anything,
that followed that near-masterpiece of action, Jeremy Renner makes an
apt substitute and the thrills, wit and set pieces are all top notch,
even if it won't quite have audiences asking, "Jason who?"
In the mischievous and highly top secret world of clandestine CIA superspy programs, the program previously known as Treadstone has once again morphed from Treadstone to Blackbriar and now to Outcome (officially known as Alcom), a bio-weapons division in New York State that operates under the ruse of a pharmaceutical research firm. It is through this project that Rachel Weisz's Dr. Marta Shearing crosses path with Outcome agent Aaron Cross, as her employer's cloak-and-dagger endeavors supply its agent with viral treatments that boost both physical and mental efficiency.
While on a training procedure in Alaska, Cross is nearly assassinated by his own people after it's been decided by the powers that be that Jason Bourne's actions in "Ultimatum" have metastasized beyond repair and all outlying assets must be eliminated (including Dr. Shearing and her peers). Going on the run is one thing for Cross, but now without the pills he has been taking to keep himself stimulated, he faces the threat of crashing like a lifetime heroine addict gone cold turkey a dire situation which would indefinitely lead to his and the doctor's death.
With Tony Gilroy, some will be relieved to be done with the shaky cam approach of Paul Greengrass but what does remain intact is Gilroy's dense, jargon-filled dialogue that even if being dumb, always sounds so incredibly smart. There is certainly no mistaking that this is a film from this universe.
The Bourne Legacy is easily the goriest of the bunch and at times really pushes the envelope when it comes to a PG-13 rating. As evidenced in the trailers, there is an early-set shooting involving Weisz's character and it is quite disturbing and effective in its robotic ruthlessness. Forget the controversial scene in Gangster Squad that is being reshot due to the Aurora, Colo. shootings, this sequence is bound to give anyone close to that event vivid flashbacks. And speaking of Weisz, even in her quiet moments (and she has plenty of loud and quiet) she steals her show coming off as both devastated and strong and nimbly sidesteps the oft- seen trope of the shrieking helpless female victim.
Gilroy's foray has a number of inspired instances, and though "Legacy" could have used about 15 minutes of trimming, it never bores. There are a number of intense and well-choreographed sequences that aptly showcase Cross' lethality and they're presented with enough frequency amidst the bureaucracy. An electric and immensely entertaining sequence takes place back when Cross is back in Alaska and attempting to avoid a quick death both by a military drone and a pack of wolves. I won't spoil anything, but it puts a whole new spin on the "slip your GPS tracker so your pursuers think you're somewhere else" cliché.
At other times, however, it seems like Gilroy is just going down the "Bourne" checklist even down to playing Moby's "Extreme Ways" at the end credits (I was really glad about that, actually). Bourne beats up some unsuspecting guards check. Bourne engages in an extended car chase in an exotic location check. Bourne evades capture by running along rooftops check. Another agent is sent to eliminate Bourne check. The only "check" missing is the inclusion of the man himself. However, in lieu of giving us an utter deconstruction of the series (or nothing at all), why should we be disappointed that The Bourne Legacy gives us everything we could expect (and at times quite a bit more)?
It also becomes clear pretty early on that Damon's Bourne is not the only one who has been given a redux. David Strathairn's Noah Vosen (who is under investigation following his attempted cover-up) has been given the form of Edward Norton's Eric Byer and Joan Allen's Pamela Landy (who is also having problems with her "treason" as it were) effectively with Donna Murphy's Dita Mandy (only changed one letter in the last name there). It's safe to say, despite strong performances, they feel like a downgrade when recalling the fiery antagonism shared with Vosen and Landy in The Bourne Ultimatum.
One thing The Bourne Legacy makes utterly clear is that at the distinguished age of 41, Jeremy Renner has proved himself to be a formidable action hero, both bringing a classic look to Cross but also matching Damon in displays of physicality and athleticism. He has now proved his leading man potential and I look forward to Renner headlining further action adventures (be it in this series or others).
But after all the conspiracies have been unmasked and the last bullet drained, I still couldn't help but miss Damon in the lead role. We all knew how great he was as Jason Bourne, but it would seem that I at least took his work for granted, perhaps failing to truly appreciate how magnetic he was in his ass-kickery. Let's hope Damon comes to miss his involvement and teams up with Renner in future missions, because that would be an on-screen duo worthy of all kinds of legacies.
Ouch. I wish Greengrass directed this film, because to me it felt like
a mess. Had a good idea with a solid backing, but it failed to take
advantage of it. I like that they intertwined the story within the
Ultimatum storyline like you see in the preview as well as playing
homage to the original series, but the execution sucked not to mention
that the Bourne events had no influence on Cross' character - something
that "Legacy" would suggest. The storytelling felt disjointed, and the
action sequences had way too much camera shake to enjoy them (the first
trilogy wasn't so bad). Other than Manila, and the solitude of Alaska,
location is one trademark of the legacy that just wasn't there. In the
first three films, the assassins didn't need to speak to have
personality and character - this film's assassin was just a ghost in
Even though not directly stated, I think most people would understand by watching this film what MAY have actually happened to Jason Bourne. The only way this film will have any more meaning is if they continue the new trilogy.
In a way I think this film disgraces the Bourne series, and here's why:
it simply did not have the feel of a Bourne movie. Between awkwardly
chosen locations, some sci-fi drug twist, and and incredibly
over-simplified and at times dull plot line, this is hardly an action
movie, let alone a Bourne movie. Also, and this part really bothered
me, I feel like Tony and Dan Gilroy did things with some of the Bourne
characters that were not true to Robert Ludlum's vision, even going so
far as to change the initiation program and the amount of information
leaked at the end of Ultimatum.
Secondly, the direction was very close up the entire time, and during many of the chase scenes I found myself unable to watch. The entire time it is very shaky, and because of the closeness, it's difficult to get the whole picture of what's going on.
Lastly, some of the acting wasn't very good. I've never liked Jeremy Renner, and this movie didn't change my opinion on him. It's not that he's a bad actor, it's just that I don't like him as an actor. Edward Norton, though, was incredibly stiff and robotic the whole time, as were some of the other government workers. The best performance was probably from Rachel Weisz, who did well as a woman trying to deal with shock and guilt.
If you happen to like almost all action movie, go ahead and watch this, but if you're a Bourne fan, I wouldn't bother wasting your and tarnishing some aspects of the past movies.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I absolutely loved every minute of this movie, but let me start out by
saying that I'm not a fan of any of the first three Bourne movies. I
will also say that because this story is so different to the previous
movies, it would have probably been better to give it a different
title. There didn't need to be any reference to Bourne at all.
One of the highlights for me was the level of accuracy in the CIA search team. It was surprisingly refreshing to see satellite feeds from across the world portrayed with their accurate limitations. This made me engage with that part of the story on a much deeper level, and I really felt the tension as the search team grew closer and closer to their target.
The chase sequence is one of the best I have seen. Manila was an amazing choice of location. It had it's one cheesy moment, but I was holding onto my seat the entire time. I enjoyed the lull after the first part of the chase, and I especially liked the very sharp and conclusive ending.
The acting was absolutely spot on.
I loved the details that helped to set the tone for certain scenes. For example, the Australian character at the Manila laboratory really helped to create a general overtone of semi-incompetence, which was crucial to the belief that their break-in and escape was actually plausible.
I loved the storyline, and found it very refreshing after seeing too many movies that deal with revenge or uncovering conspiracies. Perhaps it says something about my personality, but I really enjoyed the premise that all they wanted to do was get away, and live in peace. I thought the suspense was really well managed, during the scene where the border guards were checking their passports. The final scene of the movie released all of this built-up tension, and I think it was a perfect, happy ending. The ending reminded me of the movie 'Limitless', how the character's world can collapse at any moment, but they make it to the end, and are well-prepared to deal with any threats in the future.
So there you go. One 10 star review in a sea of disappointed critics.
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