The Bourne Legacy (2012)

“Watchable”. That’s what my date said as soon as we exited the theatre. And she was absolutely right. This newest, sorta sequel to the Bourne franchise (which I quite like) has a fair bit working in it’s favor, but also a lot that doesn’t. The story follows Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), another ‘black ops’ operative in a secret program that is being run parallel to the Treadstone operation that Jason Bourne originally belonged to. As the events of The Bourne Ultimatum escalate (running in the peripherals of this film), it’s determined that ALL the clandestine super spy programs (and the unsuspecting operatives) need to vanish to avoid any legal fallout from Bournes shenanigans. While on a training mission in the mountains of Alaska, a very definitive (and cool) attempt is made to erase Cross from the face of the earth. Pure luck is the only thing that saves him from taking a Hellfire missile up the ass. While he goes into ‘Hunted Fugitive Mode’, a scientist in the program, played by Rachel Weisz, narrowly escapes having her brains blown out when a colleague loses his shit in her lab and cold-bloodedly guns down 5 people. Cross seeks her out because he feels that she can help him sustain his program-mandated drug addiction and therefore, get the answers about who is trying to kill him and why (I think). And cue the confusion. This flick does it’s very best to sound sophisticated and worldly, but in the end some of the reasons for character and story actions are almost insultingly simple. Before I get into the ‘Bad’, I’ll hit on some of the ‘Good’ points first. Jeremy Renner is an inspired choice for this role and he gives the character a more ‘human’ slant, especially when compared to the Robotic Ninja Magician that was Matt Damons Jason Bourne character. Aaron Cross is a guy who still has feelings and questions about the nature of the work that he has signed on for and is not necessarily cool with all that they do. Renner conveys this pretty well. And while Cross IS a very capable and tough operative, he is still a little blunt around the edges. Many of the action scenes are well staged and exciting. One that stood out (for me) was a cat n mouse game between Cross and a hunting Predator drone, during a snow storm in a mountain forest. It was executed well, and given a sense of (near)believeability. Another is a high speed motorcycle chase through the streets of Manila. Some serious adrenaline gets pumped as it appears that most of the desperate pursuit was done for real. The only thing that sullys the excitement are the couple moments of Loony Tunes-like tomfoolery sprinkled through the chase. There are also some down n dirty fist fights that work nicely, with Renner again showing that he has the chops for effective ‘physical’ acting. On a technical level, The Bourne Legacy works, there’s no denying that. It’s when one starts really looking at the way the story is told that things don’t quite add up. For starters, the pacing in some sections felt ‘off’…particularily in the first Act. There are also some moments where significant things occur with no lead-up or explanation. Either some key material ended up on the cutting room floor or some lazy writing reared its ugly head. Either way, it’s a little jarring. And speaking of jarring, this is another of those flicks that sets you up for a big finale’ of some sort and….OVER. WTF?! It seriously felt like they had gotten to the tail end of Act 2, ramping up for an exciting denoument…and tah daaahh!! THE END. The ending of this flick BEGS for a sequel, as it’s left so completely, unsatisfyingly open when the credits roll. It was in THAT moment that the over-simplifications of the story became painfully apparent. Had it all been leading up to SOMETHING…it would’ve worked. But as it was, my date and I found ourselves mulling it over and in short order we had to ask “THAT was the point of the WHOLE movie?!”. Realizing what it had ALL been about was a letdown. And in a nutshell, that also sums up the film as a whole. A letdown. A letdown with some good acting, a decent cast, some very cool action sequences and a cool character for Jeremy Renner to someday build upon, should a sequel emerge. But as a story, it didn’t work for me. Maybe it’ll work for you…just check it out AFTER its theatrical run. Again…”Watchable.”

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