Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Legacy – 135min – PG-13

If you were a fan of the previous films, don’t get sucked into watching it because it has the same name. I was expecting an action, adventure spy thriller and what I got was spy movie that was very slow paced, and had long stretches of exposition and set up. It felt like the writer/director (Tony Gilroy) was setting this up to be an origin story to base another three films on. With out of sync pacing and a story that seemed disjointed and out of place for the established universe, I felt lost at times and begin to wonder why I even care about the characters on the screen. This movie does nothing for the franchise and could have been skipped. This is a red light film.

Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is on a training mission in the wilds of Alaska, he doing training maneuvers so he is trying to complete and is fighting the wildlife and weather to accomplish it. The Agency is working to erase the Bourne project and everyone connect to it before a possible leak occurs. Eric Byer (Edward Norton) is a troubleshooter in charge of cleaning out this operation and preventing a scandal. Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weiss) is working on the drugs that were used to give the Bourne agents their super powers. Ok, there are no super powers but it does enhance them to higher than normal human reaction and thought. I am glossing over a lot of story here but it’s really hard to put so many story fractions into one short synopsis.

The story does incorporate some elements from the third movie. It’s hard to follow at times but from some of the people I have talked to even if you did see the third one, the connections are so faint that it almost doesn’t make any difference in clearing up the convoluted story line.

I have no issues with any of the performances. It really was the writer's fault for not giving them a better story to work with. Edward Norton was brilliant as a broody guy who scowls in a control room. Rachel Weisz gives a great performance of a brilliant woman under the stress of being taken out of her element, and Jeremy Renner is now my favorite action star. This movie was like a short sample of his prowess in this kind of film. He did a good job in Mission Impossible 4 but he really shines as the main character.

Tony Gilroy has lots of checks in the win column. He has a well proven track record as a story teller, his work on the previous Bourne movies to his work on Armageddon and Michael Clayton really highlight his skill. This is one that I think is a failed attempt to develop more of the universe from the previous films. The best description I have to explain what this movie feels like is developing Cross as a new player in this universe. It feels like they went out of their way to tell a lot of back story so the next one can kick right off into action. I just hope that he has not lost his audience in this gamble.

To indicate how slow this film is, I was at one point noticing that people were yawing during the film. I started counting as they became more entertaining than the movie. There were 25 yawns from about half way through the first half of this movie. I started to write my review in my notebook before the film was over, I was completely ungripped.

Spoiler Warring!!! No yawning beyond this point!!!!!!!!!!

Cross made a big show of hiding his meds and then going to the other agent saying he was out of meds. I have had long conversations on why he did this; some people say that it was a ploy to put himself into a position of submission with the person he was in contact with. You want the audience to talk about your movie but you don’t want them to spend all of the great talk time sorting out what your characters motivations are.

The other issue is that Cross and his pursuer, Byer never meet, and the impact of the message of "No more" on the mirror lost something when the main bad guy gets the message through a camera. I as a viewer wanted to have them meet, and they never did.

All of the action scenes were in the trailer and I think that was what lead me to believe this was an action film. Not so much really it’s just one long set up for a possible trilogy. When are they going to invest in a tripod for these films? Does every shot need to be on a not so steady cam? Even the meeting rooms where everyone is sitting down?

Movies seem to be made as one-shot gamble, rarely do they plan a story arc that spans over two or three movies. Do you think they should change that and really designate films as onetime stories or moves that you know are going to be done over several films?

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