Better Title Might Be “The Bourne Junkie”
THE BOURNE LEGACY (2012/IN THEATERS) Roger Ebert says it best: “The dialogue is concise, the cinematography is arresting and the plot is a murky muddle.” The Bourne Legacy is the first in the series directed by Tony Gilroy (who also directed Michael Clayton) and was co-written by Gilroy and his brother Dan who together penned the screenplays for the previous three Bourne movies. There’s quite a back-story to the film, which was originally meant to be a true 4th in the series with Matt Damon returning as Jason Bourne and Paul Greengrass returning to direct. However, the two backed out over script differences and in fact, exchanged open barbs with Gilroy who complained loudly about Greengrass’ direction of his script for The Bourne Ultimatum, while Damon dissed Gilroy’s earlier script and credited Greengrass with saving the movie. Ultimately, the studio—not wanting to miss out on squeezing more dollars out of the series—invited Gilroy to re-script the fourth film. Gilroy thus created the new plot that references Bourne but stars Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross, no.5 in a group of biologically altered secret agents now being run in a program called “Outcome.” The film’s tagline says it all: “there was never only one.” It turns out there were a handful of others, all hooked on green and blue pills that significantly enhance their physiological and mental capabilities. As we first meet Renner, training in the wilds of Alaska (for no apparent reason other than to show us beautiful scenery), he is carefully counting his little pills and working out ways to get more. This theme continues throughout the movie as Cross eventually connects with Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), part of the team who have created the virus strains which can result in permanent enhancement if administered correctly. The two head to Manila where the virus is stored. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Edward Norton as Retired Colonel Eric Byer is rapidly shutting Outcome down, feeding his remaining agents little yellow pills that cause them to drop dead, blood dripping from one nostril. Arguing with Norton are faces and characters from the previous three films, including Scott Glenn, Stacy Keach, and David Straithaim. Peter Finch makes an appearance as the doctor behind the research and Joan Allen reappears oh so briefly as Pamela Landy. The movie is not worthy of its predecessors IMHO and deserves its mediocre 54% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Too much crosscutting, too little plot and unfortunately for Renner and Weisz, not much to build on. Fans have enjoyed the action sequences, most notably the final one in Manila, but I have to say I thought they were long and ultimately boring. Some series just need to finish up, but judging by the ending of this one (and certainly thanks to a good opening weekend box office), we’ll be seeing more of Aaron Cross and probably soon. Maybe Gilroy will get better.