Genre: Action Running Time: 2 hrs. 15 min.
Release Date: August 10th, 2012 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Tony Gilroy Actors: Jeremy Renner, Scott Glenn, Stacy Keach, Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz, Donna Murphy, Zeljko Ivanek
he title is slightly different and the heroes may have changed completely, but it still feels like “The Bourne Legacy” is showing the same story audiences have seen before. Unlike a continuation though, viewers are forced to sit through a lengthy introduction before the action initiates; and even after it does, it appears so infrequently that the film often borders on the mundane. The final chaotic sequence, while both impressively staged and wildly unrealistic, arrives too late to correct the lackluster pacing. At least the protagonists are engaging, regardless of their stereotypes, which bodes well for the clearly “part one” feel of the film.
After the catastrophic events caused by rogue operative Jason Bourne becoming front-page news, the founders of a similar covert military program decide to terminate every special agent and geneticist in their employ. But their cover-up fails when highly trained agent Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) narrowly escapes assassination and rescues Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), the scientist in charge of monitoring his virally-enhanced battle prowess. Together, the two fugitives attempt to stay one step ahead of their pursuers as they head to Manila to search for the answers they desperately need.
The first thirty minutes of “The Bourne Legacy” seem purposely confusing and intentionally complicated. But there’s no logic behind it. Hopelessly frustrating jargon is included in every sentence, seemingly to make the audience feel ignorant or to boost the perceived cleverness of the script. This backfiring attempt is paired with obnoxiously frequent cuts between extreme survivalist efforts in the midst of the Alaskan wilderness; more globetrotting locations than can be kept track of; government moguls attached to various initialisms and top secret, deep cover, covert missions riddled with code names; and nameless undercover agents conducting routine tasks for medical scrutiny. Too many characters are introduced – each overtly suspicious – while the plot goes nowhere. “I think we need to clarify something,” demands Col. Eric Byer (Edward Norton) to Lt. General Don Paulsen (John Douglas Thompson, playing a prime example of a superfluous military inclusion, appearing in only one scene). “You’re not saying much of anything,” he later adds. Exactly.
Further along, after references are made to the previous Bourne films with “Treadstone” and “Blackbriar” – continuing to add to the commotion – a few flashbacks are shown. Halfway through, moments of dark, serious violence overshadow the generally exciting adventure that loiters around the familiar plot of the series. Eventually, the more lighthearted action sequences arrive, this time pumped with noticeably unrealistic, Terminator-reminiscent stunts and that familiar, fast-paced editing that obscures feats that couldn’t actually happen (such as jumping from one barreling motorcycle to the other, or Shearing dangling between a speeding motorcycle and a recklessly disoriented tour bus). It also becomes more exhilarating as the government’s outrageously overreaching intel closes in on the rogue soldier and his uncommonly capable collaborator (it’s difficult not to be thrilled by Cross casually thwarting heavily-armed gunmen). Randomly invented new predicaments keep up the suspense until the final minutes – when an abrupt conclusion reminds audiences that this concurrent chapter of the Bourne franchise is probably just filler until Matt Damon can be coaxed into returning to his popular secret agent persona.
– The Massie Twins