Review: THE BOURNE LEGACY (2012) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Review: THE BOURNE LEGACY (2012)

RATING: 2.5/5

When director Paul Greengrass and lead actor Matt Damon decided to quit the BOURNE franchise after their back-to-back successful collaboration in 2004's THE BOURNE SUPREMACY and 2007's THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, Universal is struggling to continue the lucrative franchise with a fourth installment. And instead of replacing new actor to play Jason Bourne, screenwriter or more appropriately, "the narrative architect" of the BOURNE trilogy, Tony Gilroy, comes up with a different idea by introducing new character and creates a spin-off that would somehow ties back to Jason Bourne. I have to admit it's a risky approach to proceed with the fourth installment without Matt Damon as Jason Bourne (unless if you count his "appearance" in the news footage, photographs, and his name being mentioned). But try hard as Tony Gilroy might, THE BOURNE LEGACY is unfortunately a lackluster espionage thriller that doesn't comes close to the sheer urgency of the BOURNE trilogy did successfully before.

The movie begins in the Alaskan wilderness where Operation Outcome agent Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is tasked to complete an elaborate training mission. Nevertheless he succeeds the mission and retreats to a cabin where he meets another Outcome agent (Oscar Isaacs). He seriously needs to refuel his body with two chems -- blue pills and green pills -- that will give him enhanced physical and mental abilities. After an overnight stay at the cabin, something goes wrong when a drone is send over by his superior, Eric Byer (Edward Norton) to terminate all the remaining Outcome agents after learning that the entire program has been "infected" by Jason Bourne at New York. The Outcome agent at the cabin ends up dead being blast off by a missile from a drone, but Cross manages to survive. He subsequently manages to take down the drone with his sharp-shooting skill and eventually made his way out of the grid.

Meanwhile, Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), one of Outcome's genetic scientist who develops the enhancement drugs for the pills, is shocked to learn that his colleague, Dr. Donald Foite (Zeljko Ivanek) suddenly goes insane and kills every scientists inside the laboratory. Luckily Shearing manages to survive but left traumatized by the lab massacre. Later she is being visited by the CIA at her home, where she is being questioned about the lab massacre, before they actually plan to kill her. It is then Cross appears conveniently to save her life and take down the CIA.

After burning the house down, they quickly flee the scene and start connecting the dots of the going-on altogether, which eventually leads them to Manila, Philippines, where Shearing is helping Cross to get the pills he desperately needed.

Taking over Paul Greengrass this time around, is Tony Gilroy who also credited one of the screenwriters with his brother, Dan. Since he knows the story revolves around the BOURNE trilogy inside out, he should have little problem on expanding the adventure. But too bad his typically complex narration is too heavy-handed. The first half is especially sluggish, and difficult to follow. It doesn't help either when they are too many technical jargon that are hard to understand, and Gilroy's biggest weakness is his penchant for exposition-heavy dialogues. It would have been better if Gilroy knows how to subdue the talky part, and focuses more on how to balance the drama and action.

Cast-wise, Jeremy Renner delivers a typically intense performance as Aaron Cross. Too bad his supposedly interesting role is sadly underwritten and he doesn't have the charisma Matt Damon had as Jason Bourne. However, when comes to action, he's very good at it and this is the part where he excels the most. As Dr. Marta Shearing, Rachel Weisz is quite good especially in a part where she expresses her traumatic experience she had at the lab massacre to the CIA at her home. Other than that, she stands out like a sore thumb when her role is portrayed as a love interest to Aaron Cross. The rest of the supporting actors are nothing much to shout about, even the inclusion of typically reliable Edward Norton, is mostly a phoned-in performance.

Despite all the glaring flaws, THE BOURNE LEGACY remains quite a worthwhile entertainment once the movie enters the second half. When Aaron Cross finally engages himself in a full-on physical mode, you can feel the intensity of his scene. Amplified by James Newton Howard's pulse-pounding score, the first part where Aaron Cross takes down a number of CIA agents at Shearing's house with swift hand-to-hand combat and weapons, are simply engaging to watch for. Coupled with Robert Elswit's intense camerawork, the action is certainly a wake-up call. But of course, the movie's best scene is none others than the breathtaking motorcycle chase during the climactic finale at Manila, Philippines. Tony Gilroy, who's hardly known as an action director, is surprisingly adept here and he's clearly showing a lot of potential. It's just a shame that the movie here is exceptionally low on action.

There's a talk that Universal is planning to expand THE BOURNE LEGACY as a standalone franchise, and if possible, reunites Matt Damon one day where he will appears together with Aaron Cross in subsequent sequel(s). Of course, that is obviously depends whether this movie manages to take off at the box-office. If the sequel really happens, here's hoping that Tony Gilroy (in case he returns as the director again) will learns how to trim the fat and cut to the chase instead.

1 comment:

Dan O. said...

Though it may not be as great as the original franchise, there is still a great amount of thrilling elements in this film to keep any Bourne fan alive and well while watching. Also, Renner makes a great, new hero that we can all stand and root for, even if he isn’t the same exact character as Jason Bourne. Nice review Casey.