The Bourne Legacy (1 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, Duplicity)
Written by Tony Gilroy (The Bourne Ultimatum) Dan Gilory (Reel Steel)
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, and Edward Norton
While waiting for the movie with my friend, I had two headlines waiting in the wing 'Bourne' lives up to the legacy, and 'Bourne' does not live up to legacy. I got to use the latter. In today's world of reboots, and re-branding of franchises The Bourne Legacy takes the franchise down numerous pegs.
Batman Begins started the popularity of the trend. Christopher Nolan's version of Batman was a solid start, and its sequels to follow were even better and have made massive amounts of money. There have been other films, mostly super hero films, which have followed this trend: Superman Returns, X-Men: First Class, The Amazing Spider-Man, and even Casino Royale is proving that James Bond is trying to keep up with the Joneses. Studios are playing things safe rebooting or re-imagining franchises for popular characters so that they do not have to take a major financial risk. Only one problem fan exhaustion is setting in, and people are not showing up in massive numbers to see these films. Some of these films are better than the original, but Bourne is not one of those films.
Bourne centers on Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) who is one the projects along the line of Jason Bourne from the original series. Cross has been sent off because he did follow protocol 100 percent, while in the wilderness he stumbles upon another guy who was part of the same experiment. Aaron is curious about this experiment, but the man will not talk. As Cross is proving his 'Bourne' like qualities climbing an impossible to climb mountain, the folks at Langley are realizing Jason Bourne has put them under a microscope. Retired Colonel Eric Bayer (Edward Norton) decides to take control an terminate the project along with the agent; he also goes after the scientists within the lab one of whom is Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz). Cross and Dr. Shearing manage to escape and somehow end up teaming up and go on the run from Langley.
The plot sounds somewhat interesting and there should be some semblance of a solid story, but this film is a massive misfire in the franchise. Tony Gilroy the screenwriter of the first three Bourne movies is the culprit of the problem within this film. Gilroy not only wrote but directed this film in the franchise. The other films in the franchise were directed by Doug Liman and Paul Greengrass two visionary directors who utilized their script to not only create an action packed world, but a world full of emotional heft for Jason Bourne. These two men's visionary direction helped catapult this series into more than just a mediocre action franchise. Gilroy does not have the foresight within this film, especially with his direction; his action sequences prove he was not up to the task.
Gilroy and his brother Dan Gilroy's script makes the problem even worse. The script made me feel as though I was trying to prep for my AP Chemistry test from high school. The film focuses on the technical more than any of the other films did trying to provide a backdrop to the story when all the pair do is convolute the history of the Bourne Legacy, which is something they do not seem to understand. Who is Aaron Cross? Why do we care about his past, what he has gone through, or about this project and the agents connect to him from Langley? In this film you do not, and the attempt the edit the story from the first three films into this film miserably. The Gilroy's mention Jason Bourne several times, mentioning the chaos he has added to the world, but their shoe string connections never hold up to make you care about our protagonist, Aaron Cross.
Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz do their best in this poorly written film, but there is even a lack of chemistry between them, which could have almost saved this movie, but acts as another hinderance. The characters in the film are one note, and Gilory banks on the cliche. In the previous films Tony created complex characters, that even faded into the background of Bourne's life. This film sidesteps explaining any character, especially the antagonists like Edward Norton's one note villain, There is also an Asian man chasing Aaron and his lady at the end, the man has no name, does not speak, but Aaron Cross recognizes he is about the kill him. How? Poor writing running a muck, that's how.
I was baffled by how poorly things were setup, and how the writer of the first three quality films in this series could mess up so bad. The Bourne Ultimatum even stunned Oscarologists by winning the Best Editing award at the Academy Awards, an honor typically reserved for Best Picture winners or nominees, but the editing is so poorly done within this film you notice the jarring movement during transitions.
I felt even more jarred when the credits rolled and the end scene Bourne music played signaling it was time to leave the theatre. Did I just watch a movie connected with the rest of the franchise? How did the person who wrote the first three construct this monstrosity? Too many questions posed and no reasonable answers. This film challenged one of the longest running franchises, the James Bond franchise, the change things up, shaking the simplistic nature of the spy thriller action flick, and just ruined the legacy of its own dynasty.