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The Bourne Legacy (2012)

An expansion of the universe from Robert Ludlum’s novels, centered on a new hero whose stakes have been triggered by the events of the previous three films.

It’s been 5 years since we last saw the Bourne universe with Matt Damon’s farewell salute ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’. In the years that have passed by we’ve heard a lot of talk about a possible reboot, continuation or a story set in the same universe. It turned out to be the last option and that didn’t came about without some controversy.

So let’s go on a little history tour together shall we?

It was early in 2010 when talks begun about resurrecting the Bourne franchise for Universal, and so scripts were drawn up from George C. Nolfi and Josh Zetumer, both failing to impress Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass. With their mutual belief that the story of Bourne had been told, they left the project, leaving Universal scrambling for a new set-up. Director Tony Gilroy (writer on the first three Bourne movies) was handed the possibility of writing a script and subsequently directing it.

Meanwhile we’ve made it to 2011 when the usually kindhearted Mr. Damon tells a reporter that Gilroy wrote a script for the third bourne movie and delivered a ‘unreadable career ender’, Damon felt that if he put the script up on Ebay for sale, it would end Tony Gilroy’s credibility as well as his career.
Damon eventually apologized a few weeks later and wished Gilroy as well as Renner a lot of luck.

So, it’s the end of the summer in 2012 and ‘Legacy’ has made it to our cinemas around the world.
That begs the question: was Damon right?
Having seen the movie I can honestly say that I don’t think he was, although there’s a lot left to be desired.

In a scene involving Edward Norton as Eric Byer and Stacy Keach as Mark Turso, both retired army generals and appareantly army heavyweights, we learn soon on that Operation Treadstone which ofcourse was the focus of the Bourne trilogy was not the only super agent training program. Operation Outcome was started as well, and it’s here that we meet Outcome 5 aka Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) who’s doing a training mission in Alaska when we meet up with him.

In that same scene with the army heavyweights we learn that because of the actions from Jason Bourne, there has been an increased chance of people from the inside outing the various governmental super agent training programs. So what else is there to do then terminate the program, keep the data, and start all over again once the storm has settled down?
The order is made to kill Cross via a remote control rocket, ofcourse failing in the procedure, leaving Cross out in the field trying to find out what the hell is going on.

Mind you, this is the first 30-45 minutes of the movie we’re talking about.
By then you’ve also met virologist Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) who is employed by the government to do various tests on the outcome soldiers and further develop their abilities. The outcome agents, hence the name, are the results of viruses implemented into soldiers, giving them better abilities and thus creating as a final outcome: a super soldier.

Skip back to a very pissed off Aaron Cross who now knows he’s being hunted by the people who’ve made him and the fact that he’s ran out of his company provided medicine to keep up his unusual abilities, and you’ve guessed it: he needs to hook up with Marta in order to fix himself and set the whole situation straight.
If you haven’t picked it up already from my way of writing, the plot is as simple as they come.
You can mix in 100 different army terms for ‘terminating an asset’ or casually namedrop the CIA, president or other supposedly important people, it doesn’t hide the fact that it’s a very by the numbers thriller.

Jeremy Renner is a good lead as Cross, even though he bears the legacy (see what I did there) of Jason Bourne (and three better made movies), he does the most with the material he’s been given, and especially his introduction in Alaska shows us his determination, skills and force.
The whole cast of actors: Norton, Renner, Keach, Weisz and many more are all doing a very able job on a very poor script.
Ofcourse, there are various winks and nods throughout that are meant only to let you know this is indeed a continuation of the previous Bourne films, but never does it feel like a true part of that heritage.
It doesn’t feel unique as well, its as generic a movie as they come, and if this were labelled simply as Aaron Cross, people would have probably skipped it 2 weeks after it’s initial release.

The direction by Gilroy is good, at times it’s even great, but it just can’t hide the stench of the lackluster story that it is telling. On top of that, if you have (like myself) seen the trailer: there hasn’t been a more shiny example of why people don’t watch them anymore. Every big action scene, with the exception of one, and every major plot detail is present in the trailer. You’re waiting for stuff to happen since it was so prominently featured on the trailer that it’s actually decreasing the joy of watching it.

So, when all things are said and done, the Bourne Legacy manages to cross the finishline unscathed.
It’s by no means the epic continuation that people will have you believe it is, but it’s not a total shitfest either.
If you can catch this in the video rental with a few months time, don’t hesitate, but for now start saving those dollars for the inevitable release of movies like Cloud Atlas and The Hobbit.

7/10 stars!

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Discussion

6 thoughts on “The Bourne Legacy (2012)

  1. Well written review, Paul.

    Posted by Froilan | September 4, 2012, 17:40
  2. Good review. I love the Bourne films. I have no doubt I’ll enjoy this one but not to the level of the others. Besides, Renner is growing on me as an actor. Thanks!

    Posted by Victor De Leon | September 4, 2012, 19:24
  3. I was initially skeptical about this, given that in my mind, like Matt Damon, the Bourne story on film had been told and finished already. So when I found out that we would see essentially a whole new story and new characters, I was even more skeptical. But I figured I would go see it anyway and wasn’t dissapointed nor fascinated, but mainly because my expectations were low already.

    Essentially, you give a good review that sums up what I think very nicely too.

    Posted by ThreeSentenceCritic | September 5, 2012, 12:12

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