The trouble with The Bourne Legacy is that it’s short on Bourne and heavy on legacy. It joins this summer’s Total Recall as an unnecessary edition to predecessors we fondly remember. It isn’t without its moments, however, though they don’t add up to much by the end.
The story picks up with the secret U.S. intelligence outfit run by the CIA called The Program, following field agent Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) from Operation Outcome. Like Jason Bourne before him, they are more than Bondian, though are not superheroes but men involved in a project that tinkers with the human genome in order to produce brainier as well as brawnier international men of mystery.
What this movie does, essentially, is show us what it’s like to be addicted to the seemingly magic pills the agents consume which gives them quicker reflexes, the ability to scale just about anything the way a cat does, while somehow increasing their intelligence to boot. Aaron Cross is a man on a singular mission to get his meds, which are called “chems”. And they must be amazing considering the lengths he goes to try and procure them.
See, he dropped the rest of his chems climbing a series of great mountains on the other side of the world, and the opening scene shows him diving naked into frigid water in order to retrieve them. He takes a blue one and a green one, and then camps out in front of a great big fire he’s built on the mountainside.
Cut to the Manhattan command center where much of the beginning of the film takes place, with Edward Norton totally stressed out at I don’t know what, except he’s got no trace of lips, grayer hair than usual and a serious look on his face. Character actor vets David Strathairn, Stacy Keach, Dennis Boutsikaris and Scott Glenn round out the other totally stressed out men at the headquarters, where it is decided they must wipe out the entire Outcome project, including their agents as well as the scientists who have worked to discover how to manipulate human DNA.
In a disquieting scene that comes along in the shadow of the recent mass shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin, another dependable character actor in Zeljko Ivanek (Damages, Tower Heist) portrays a scientist who goes psychotically postal on his lab colleagues, and it is suspected that higher-ups are responsible for it in order for their hands to remain free of blood, at least directly. That’s where we meet Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) who somehow gets out alive and then finds herself to be a target of The Program’s leaders.
Meanwhile, we pick up on Cross, who is helped out for a time up in the mountains by another field agent who rations him some chems, just in time to fend off a nastily persistent drone looking to vaporize him right off the planet.
The mountaineering and the drone attack, which also include a wicked bit involving Cross fending off a raging wolf, are the best pure action sequences in the pic. There’s a set piece at a great old house in the woods belonging to the Weisz character that I thought was alright, but like the grand finale in the Philippines, I felt the action to be frustratingly directed at times in that way when you get a whole lot of shaky cam covering for real action. The chase sequence at the end has all the right energy, but is lacking a good choreographer.
What is surprising with The Bourne Legacy is all the bloat and the convoluted mess of a screenplay that doesn’t know what it wants to do or where it is going in all those dialogue heavy scenes around the action sequences. What we came to love and depend upon in the Bourne trilogy was the efficiency with which it told its story, cutting away all the fat and driving the narrative home at breakneck speed. In the first 20 or 30 minutes of this movie, I really had no idea what any of it was doing in a final cut.
Sure, Norton and those character actors are all fine and good–I particularly like the way Stacy Keach can down a scotch–but every time the movie goes back to them, their scene would end and I’d wonder, “What the hell just happened there?”. Their lips were moving, but to the degree that I understood what was going on and why it was so important to them, I didn’t care.
Jeremy Renner is growing into a capable, working-class action star. His work here is a variation of the notes he played so well in The Hurt Locker. Where Matt Damon brought intellect and the ability to communicate to us without words in his quest to forever figure out who the hell he really was, Renner as Aaron Cross knows who he is and what he can do and is driven by need for his wonder drugs.
That alone is compelling enough reason to make The Bourne Legacy. It’s just too bad that writer-director Tony Gilroy–who scripted these last three but who takes over helming duties from Paul Greengrass–bogs himself down in a whole series of muddled talkie scenes that take the wind out of this movie.
This is not an altogether bad film, and the end holds the promise that in the next edition we won’t see Rachel Weisz solely as the damsel in distress, but as more of a player hopefully.
The Bourne Legacy represents the last big hurrah of the summer, and though it delivers a couple interesting set pieces, does not add up to much and tarnishes a rather stellar series of movies.
**½ (out of 4)
The first trailerdropped and I was really surprised to see that Taylor Lautner‘s version of Jason Bourne didn’t quite suck. While there was very little action in the first one, Lautner showed that he could at least act the part.
The second trailer has now dropped and it is pretty much all action and it kind of rocks. In a sad way, this trailer takes away a lot of the faith I had in Lautner from the first one because when you see him up against people like Sigourney Weaver, Alfred Molina and Jason Isaacs in this trailer, you can’t help but sing “one of these things doesn’t belong’.
But I digress.
Check out the trailer because the movie still seems pretty good and I might end up giving it a go.
What say you?
I honestly think that living in Toronto has fueled my love of film. We have dozens of fantastic film festivals anchored by the grand-daddy of all film festivals : the TIFF Festival, has created a fantastic living environment for the consuming of film that normally wouldn’t be available in a smaller market.
With the opening of the Bell Lightbox, the film-going experience in this city has just reached a new level of luxuriousness mixed with nerdness.
I managed to catch some pretty fantastic films during last years TIFF there. Watching Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams was a true joy as it showed me the true possibilities of 3D. My favourite experience was watching Takashi Miike‘s bad-ass beyond all bad-ass movies 13 Assassins. Seriously, this movie was an incredible piece of film and a true joy to experience. Some of the shots and the pacing of the whole film, simply genius. Jason Bourne wouldn’t have lasted five minutes with these guys. (The premier is coming up this spring, so don’t miss it).
The thing that most don’t realize is that TIFF has some great programming outside of the 10 days of madness and spectacle in September.
Engaging, educational and entertaining, the Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children and Youth is a TIFF initiative that offers children and youth the opportunity to learn about cultural perspectives from around the world through the power of the moving image.
An enriching experience that is much more than just a day at the movies, Sprockets includes two public weekends for ages three and up and a two week long School Programme for students in elementary and secondary schools. Featuring the best of Canadian and international cinema for children and youth, Sprockets offers a compelling selection of features and shorts on diverse subjects in a variety of genres and styles. It provides a rare opportunity to watch films that kids around the world are lining up to see and that in many cases may not be available again in Toronto.
Heather Greenwood Davis from the Star.com has a great overview of the some highlights of the festival:
1. The Crocodiles Strike Back (Germany; suitable for ages 10-plus): A gang of tween detectives set out to save the factory where their parents work after it’s threatened with closure. Reading the subtitles on this sequel to a Sprockets 2010 award winner takes some getting used to but the Indiana Jones/Goonies feel is sure to be a hit with tweens and the scenic shots show off the German landscape.
2. A Thousand times Stronger (Sweden; ages 10-plus): A great take on the school clique segregation we’re used to in North America (geeks to the left; divas to the right) and a girl-empowerment storyline that shows what can happen when one person refuses to live the stereotype.
3. Fuchsia, the Mini-Witch (The Netherlands; ages 6-plus): Best described as Harry Potter meets Annie, this story of a tiny witch who befriends (gasp!) a human boy and sets out to save her neighbourhood from demolition crews oblivious to the fact that the woods are enchanted will keep smaller ones giggling. The live-action movie is produced by Disney Netherlands and boasts a spectacular set.
4. Finding Kind (USA; ages 12-plus): This documentary tells the story of two American college students who set out on a road trip across the U.S. in an effort to spread their “Be Kind” movement and speak out against girl-on-girl bullying. The film is filled with powerful testimonials and great conversation starters for parents and daughters. It makes its Canadian premiere at Sprockets.
5. Chendani: The Daughter of the Elephant Whisperer (Sri Lanka; ages 9-plus): Girl Power takes a subtler form in this film about a youngster determined to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a mahout (elephant whisperer) despite the fact that the profession is traditionally and exclusively male. Kids will love the playful elephants who interact like overgrown children in the live-action film; parents will love the strong message of following your passion against all odds.
6. Light of the River (Japan; ages 4-plus): Even preschoolers will relate to this animated story about a family of rats forced to leave their city home, search for a new one, make new friends and ward off danger. It’s produced in classic animation style and will remind little ones of the “Mole Sisters” or “Little Bear” more than “Toy Story”. It’s a simple tale that is easy to enjoy.
7. Louder than a Bomb (USA; ages 14-plus): Big kids who like the infectious rhymes of hip-hop music will enjoy watching five teams of teenaged students as they get ready for the annual slam poetry competition in Chicago. Watching the kids grow as they learn to transfer their emotions and personal stories into poetry will mesmerize. The film makes its international premiere at Sprockets.
8. The Sound of Mumbai: A Musical (India; ages 9-plus): Mark my words: This one is going to be a smash sensation. It is literally “Slumdog Millionaire” meets “The Sound of Music” and it is sensational. The documentary follows an 11-year-old boy who, despite living in poverty most North American kids could never relate to, is focused on overcoming his fears so that he can sing a solo during an orchestral performance of “The Sound of Music” at Mumbai’s National Centre for the Performing Arts.
9. African Cats (Africa; ages 8-plus): Move over Simba, Step back Mustafa. This documentary exploring life on the African savannah will have you oohing and ahhing over the cute cats and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up at the animals’ awesome power. The central theme of how far a mother will go to protect her young is sure to make it as popular with parents as it is with the kids and the fact that Samuel L. Jackson narrates means even non-nature lovers will give it a second listen.
10. Wapawekka (Canada – no age rating): The relationship between a modern Cree teen hip-hop artist and his traditional father is explored during their final trip to a family cabin in northern Saskatchewan. The filmography vibrantly captures the beauty of the land and is sure to change what you thought you knew about the province.
Make sure you check some of the films out. Watching it in the Bell Lightbox is a much different and better experience.
source - thestar.com.
All kidding aside, after reading what is happening and how it’s going down, I am not writing this off…just yet.
the momentum started slowly last spring, when he took a courtesy meeting to be polite to the Ludlum estate. He never thought it would lead to his third film as a director. “I told them, ‘I don’t have anything for you.’ I’d never seen the third movie, but went home and watched it. Awhile later, I had a slender idea, at least a way to attack the problem. We made a deal that was basically, ‘If you want to put me on for a couple of weeks to figure this out and go exploring in the hills, I can’t tell you what I’ll find but I’ll tell you where I’ll dig. And then I hit a vein, and ended up delivering way more than I thought. I came up with the whole thing and if it wasn’t a swinging idea, I wouldn’t have signed on to direct. It feels good, fresh, but quite honestly, a Bourne kind of movie. I brought in my brother Dan, we started off together as a team.”
About the loss of Matt Damon, (whom he fully feels for):
Matt was completely not an option, and personally I couldn’t imagine trying to replace him. All the conspiratorial politics aside, these are very un-cynical, honest movies, and I don’t know another actor who brings more integrity and dignity, and a lack of cynicism to his work than Matt.” So Gilroy didn’t even try to replace him. “I’m not going to get into the plot, but you saw the other three films, you know everything that happened, and it’s not a dream sequence. What I can say is, you thought that was the whole world, but it was a small piece of what was going on. Ultimatum exploded at the end with people arrested. We deal with that as a reality, it has ramifications that echo out into the larger world. And of course, Jason Bourne is still alive and out there in the world. I don’t want to go beyond that, because the last thing I need is for every blogger to be second guessing.
Now if this was any other writer talking about this, I would say this pretty fantastic film series was going to hell. It is Tony Gilroy though and as much as Matt Damon has crafted Jason Bourne on the big screen, Tony Gilroy is the one that has made sure the story is as awesome as it has been.
So time will tell and I guess we will just have to sit in this wait and see pattern.
I am tentatively in.