Title: THE BOURNE LEGACY
Director: Tony Gilroy
Screenwriter: Tony Gilroy, Dan Gilroy, story from Tony Gilroy
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach, Oscar Isaac, Joan Allen, Albert Finney, David Strathairn, Scott Glenn, Zeljko Ivanek
Screened at: Lincoln Square, NYC, 8/6/21
Opens: August 10, 2012
You’ve got to admire “Bourne”’s photography and effects, however generic to thrillers, but if Tony Gilroy’s “The Bourne Legacy” is the least exciting of the four Bourne series, it could be that too much exposure and repetition are not a good thing. After all, we have it from the grapevine that Matt Damon gave up big bucks by refusing to act in this fourth entry, in effect holding that enough is enough—even if some of us out there were too young to see some of the previous pics featuring the C.I.A.’s program to close down an experiment which would boost agents’ brain power if they take one color pill and physical endurance if they would take another. You’d think that, OK, does the agency have to kill those whom it recruited to swallow these drugs? Given some of the real actions of the Central Intelligence Agency in the past, anything is possible.
Detracting from the thrills of the latest of the action-adventure quartet are the complexity of plot, the inability of Gilroy to get us into the mind of the principal performer, and the absence of Matt Damon who brought in solid box office returns in the three films that preceded this one. If you think you’ll clear up some of the confusion in a somewhat muddled plot by reading “The Bourne Legacy” (available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble for $9.99), forget it. There is nothing in the movie that bears resemblance to that 2004 book by Eric Van Lustbader.
In a plot co-written by the director and his brother Dan, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is introduced to us while on a training mission in Alaska where he meets another agent (Oscar Isaac) for the first time; one who is taciturn almost to the point of hostility: “You ask too many questions.” Like any good C.I.A. agent with blue and green capsules in his system, Renner’s character can climb walls, use a firearms, avoid a drone attack and outsmart a wolf like the best of them, showing that some drugs do have benefits even if the side effect involves being hunted down by assassins. After learning that Jason Bourne has surfaced in Manhattan, C.I.A. honcho Eric Byer (Edward Norton) orders a kill, targeting Cross.
After a Ph.D., post-doctoral geneticist Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) escapes being gunned down by Donald Foite (Zlejko Ivanek), a fellow scientist gone insane, and what’s more is targeted by another pair of agents determined to finish the job, she pairs up with Cross, resisting the man’s charm at first but inevitably showing a willingness to do exactly what he tells her. Though Cross’s heroics are motivated simply by his attempt to save his own skin and later Shearing’s, Renner portrays the man as one-dimensional: he is not interested in the politics of the cynical agency nor do we learn anything about the man to make him more human—except that he is a more inquisitive type than Matt Damon’s Bourne.
Fans of the series, namely the youths who wouldn’t be caught dead at a screening of the cerebral “Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy,” will be disappointed by what percentage of this overlong movie is thin on action—until a rousing finale involving a chase by car and motorcycle. But the locations—Manila, Karachi, Chicago, Seoul, New York and our nation’s capital—are aptly filmed by Robert Elswit, though the dilapidated Asian venues are not of the sort that might encourage luxury tourism by well-off Westerners.
Rated PG-13. 135 minutes © 2012 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – C
Acting – C+
Technical – B+
Overall – B-