Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Movie Review: Bourne Legacy

Genre: thriller
Director: Tony Gilroy
Rating: **** (4 out of 5)

Exactly 10 years after releasing the first Bourne film, Universal Pictures reboots the commercially successful and critically acclaimed franchise with a new director and a new leading man. Tony Gilroy, who gave us dark conspiracy drama Michael Clayton and corporate spy comedy Duplicity, takes the helm as director. Jeremy Renner, who seems to be in every recent movie, plays the super spy Aaron Cross.

Bourne Legacy by Tony Gilroy

For the sake of continuity, Gilroy brings back the same supporting cast from the previous installments. Joan Allen makes a cameo appearance as Pamela Landy and many of the top brass at the Secret Service are familiar faces. All that is missing is Jason Bourne, the title character himself. Whatever the reason is for Matt Damon to turn down the role, Gilroy needs to find a way to explain the actor’s conspicuous absence. That point is made loud and clear by Eric Byer, the main villain played by Edward Norton, when he declares at the start of the film: “this [operative] is not about Jason Bourne. If you want to talk about Bourne, you are in the wrong room.” Norton may as well look at the camera when he says that.

Rather than asking Renner to play Jason Bourne, Gilroy creates a new character altogether. Aaron Cross is one of a half-dozen spy agents administered with a new drug capable of altering their DNA and boosting their physical and mental prowess. The protagonist may have a different name, but the story follows the same pattern. Gilroy sticks to the winning formula of focusing on the hero’s resourcefulness and survival skills, and partnering him with a female civilian (in this case, Dr. Marta Shearing played by Rachel Weisz) to highlight the senselessness of the espionage underworld. 

The hero and his love interest dodging Manila police

Bourne Legacy follows a tight plotline that is both complex and logical. The carefully crafted script (although filled with acronyms and jargon), combined with skilled editing, tells a compelling story without giving much away. There is just the right amount of references to the previous installments that it maintains the overall integrity of the franchise and still works as a standalone film. You don’t need to have seen the previous Bourne films to either understand or enjoy this one. As is the case for the first Mission Impossible, the audience can easily get lost by simply missing a critical line. It is not one of those movies you can sit back, relax and let it do all the work.

Jeremy Renner is Hollywood’s it-man. After his Oscar-nominated role in The Hurt Locker, he secured coveted roles in The Avengers and Mission Impossible 4. With bad skin and a distressed face, Renner is Daniel Craig with hair and Tommy Lee Jones without a Harvard degree. Like Craig and Jones, where he lacks in good looks he makes up for in grit and character. And like Tom Cruise and Matt Damon, Renner has been dogged by persistent rumors that he is a closet homosexual, a clear sign that the actor has made it in Hollywood.

I enjoyed Bourne Legacy thoroughly. My only gripe is the unnecessary twist near the end of the movie involving a new character and a never-ending chase scene that causes viewer fatigue. Other than that, it is a successful reboot with strong performances from the entire cast. As the end credits rolled, I couldn’t help but wonder if Tony Gilroy would unite Aaron Cross and Jason Bourne in the next installment and pit them against each other in the spy version of Alien vs. Predator.  Wouldn’t that be interesting?

Bourne vs. Cross

1 comment:

  1. it's a nice movie! Very entertaining!