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The Bourne Legacy (2012)
Don't get me wrong. I'm not trashing this offering because its story shares absolutely nothing beyond the title with Ludlum Estate-picked author Eric Van Lustbader's 2004 book The Bourne Legacy. No, no. This one delivers a special kind of movie-going torture all on its own.
Sure, the contextual framework is clever at times. It's impressive how Tony and Dan Gilroy's screenplay seamlessly connects the big picture consequences of the last Bourne flick with what happens here. If you've seen the previous movies, you'll remember The Agency's covert Treadstone and Blackbriar programs. This installment covers their downfall and cites the key players involved in brief scenes that include a few familiar faces, linking all of that to a similar program called Outcome that Cross is attached to. I'm also not really dropping any spoilers by mentioning that it's great how new character Eric Buyer (well played by Edward Norton) bridges everything together in leading his small team investigating and cleaning up the collateral damage caused by Jason Bourne going rogue. Get it? That's Bourne's legacy. It adds nothing of value to the trilogy starring Matt Damon, but that aspect is truly clever.
Beyond the big screen, the nicely designed and comprehensive-looking official website for this movie offers up your chance to play spy in a game called Operation Intel, where you can sign up, create your photo i.d. and then receive mission updates and video dossiers via Facebook to complete virtual intel assignments. Check it out: http://www.thebournelegacy.net/
Speaking of value, well, there's not much else. The failures of The Bourne Legacy are many and start early, unfortunately. Calling out some of them would involve sharing too much, but there are a few points that can be mentioned safely enough. Not once does the script bother to afford Renner the luxury of giving his leading character much of a personality worth investing your time in. The opportunities were there, many times, to have him react to this or that intense situation with a facial expression or wry quip or something - anything - consistently memorable to tap into beyond the one or two sparse glimpses of humanity awkwardly doled out. It's painful watching this otherwise fine actor recognized for portraying personably scrappy human time bombs struggle with the constraints of how narrow and wooden his role is here. Those major problems combined merely serve to erase any reason for you to care about what happens to this Jason Bourne guy whose code name and real name aren't Jason Bourne.
What's worse is that the ads and trailers give you the expectation going in that this over two hour screening will be an action-packed, bare-knuckled rollercoaster thriller of must-see pure adrenaline from beginning to closing credits. Well, those ads and trailers are all that. The actual movie isn't. So much of The Bourne Legacy feels plodding and bloated with pedantic filler that, whenever Cross demands his meds from someone, you almost want to raise your hand for a couple of extra strength caffeine pills just to stay awake. Yes, it's that boring. The fights and chases were far better in the comparably lousy Haywire (2011).
Rachel Weisz delivers the only stand out performance here, despite not being given much more to work with than Renner is, playing opposite him as traumatized love interest Dr. Marta Shearing. Her efforts aren't enough, though. Much of this story likely could have easily been presented as a quick build up during the opening credits that might have then opened up to a bigger actioner full of thrills and double cross surrounding this new rogue operative Cross. As it stands, it simply ends up being about an uninteresting junkie on the lam who just so happens to have super secret spy skills that include the ability to snap a lot of people in half without breaking a sweat. Ho-hum.
Boring, pointless, empty and obviously attached to the previous Bourne films merely to secure an easier sell to investors and ticket-buyers, The Bourne Legacy is little more than a forgettably novel waste of talent that's hardly even worth a free screening except to laugh at how bad it is. Too bad. Reviewed 08/12, © Stephen Bourne
The Bourne Legacy is rated 14A
by the Ontario Film Review Board for use of expletives, occasional
upsetting or disturbing scenes, tobacco use, and violent acts
shown in clear, unequivocal and realistic detail with blood and
tissue damage, and is rated 13+ by la Régie du Cinéma
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