Review: The Bourne Legacy

Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013

Roll: 1,2. Result: Review, Movie.

Two days in a row? Wild. It’s late, but I think I can still fit a movie in tonight. Hurr we go!

The Bourne Legacy

Director: Tony Gilroy, Writers: Tony Gilroy, Dan Gilroy

I guess you could say I was a pretty big fan of the first three Bourne movies, but when this one came out with such a flimsy premise to support it (“there was never just one” aka Damon dropped out so here’s Jeremy Renner in a convenient plot device) I didn’t really want to see them ruin the series so I never took the time to watch it. Now, that said, I liked the movie. I didn’t love it, but it was a good edge-of-your-seater.

The movie started off pretty randomly: scenes of these CIA people talking, scenes of Jeremy Renner climbing mountains, scenes of doctors in a lab. Everyone was rushing around acting important, yelling things, never stopping, always doing something. There was a smooth flow of activity in each shot. This is more or less the pace of the movie, although things do eventually come together after about a half an hour. Soon Jeremy Renner meets the doctors, and the Intelligence people are on his ass, although they are really just tracking him with satellites and stuff, playing catch-up for most of the movie. It gets tense.

Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross (not Alex Cross) makes everything look effortless. He’s supposed to, since he’s a super soldier, but sometimes it would be nice to at least imagine that he has to plan some of the miraculous maneuvers he attempts. The fact that he has a sidekick (Rachel Weisz) helps soften him up, make him vulnerable to the mortals trying to stop him. That and his drug problem. It’s a super soldier thing.

What bothered me a little was some of the dialogue, particularly in one scene when I was paying attention to it. It was between Ed Norton’s Intelligence character and some four-star general or something. Norton says, “I think that we need to clarify something here , Don.” The general says “Clarify what?” and Norton replies “You keep using the word ‘unacceptable,’ and I want to know exactly what you think you mean by that,” and the general says “Unacceptable means exactly that! I don’t like what you’re telling me, I don’t like how you’re telling me.” They fire these words back and forth very forcefully and purposefully, getting angry at each other obviously because they are important and they are discussing important things, but this four-line exchange feels entirely unnecessary, just some weird lead-in to get the audience interested in the conversation that they’re being introduced to. In the end, I feel like that’s how most of the dialogue works. Which is fine, since it’s just a thriller, but it wouldn’t have hurt if there were actually some depth to the important things people were shouting. Here’s some lines I just wrote for the sequel (whatever happens in it):

Ed Norton: You don’t understand. This isn’t just a man we’re talking about, the whole program is riding on this operation!

Government Guy: You think I don’t know what’s at stake here? This thing goes south, my whole career goes with it.

Ed Norton: Your career? If you even grasped a shred of the importance of stopping him, you would be happy to go flip burgers for a living if it gave us one shot at even knowing what country he’s in right now. Your career? You make me sick.

CIA Guy (busting open door): “[Ed Norton’s character’s name]! We’ve got a problem.”

Ed Norton: Well, what is it, god damn it?

CIA Guy: We found him.

Ed Norton: Get me NASA on the line; call the general. I need eyes and ears at –

CIA Guy: No. You don’t understand. He’s here.

and scene.

So that’s what the movie is. It’s Cross being loud and fast, or quiet and oh-so-slick. There are close calls with guns, cars, motorcycles, wolves, drugs, speech, sneaking, and suicide fraud. They touch almost every chase scene trope. There is even rooftop running and some swell parkour moves. I didn’t really understand a lot about the different agencies and the government officials, and I’m not sure how much I was intended to get, or what is based on information from the first movies, but all in all I got the gist of the movie. Good guys running, bad guys chasing, except they work for the government and their intentions are pure, sort of, so like whatever happens is ok, except the government can’t just kill people so go Aaron Cross! I’m going to bed. It’s a good thriller to watch, if you don’t have to pay for it, and even if you do have to pay, but then you should make sure to watch it on a big screen with the speakers blasting, and the subwoofer cranked. Maybe some day they will figure out how to deliver an even more immersive experience, in which case maybe this could have been a great movie.

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