Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne franchise is one of the better franchises in Hollywood at this current time. Each of the first three movies had a bankable star (Matt Damon), brutal fight sequences, and excellent stories. When Matt Damon was said to not be involved in the forth installment, people were understandably skeptical about the future of the series. Jeremy Renner was brought into the series, fresh off his roles in The Town and The Hurt Locker, to be the new main character of the Bourne series. The screenwriter of the first three films also stepped into the role of director as well as co-writer which was another good sign for the franchise. The additions of Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz, Scott Glenn, and Oscar Isaac to the cast also piqued my interest in the film.

The story of The Bourne Legacy runs side by side with The Bourne Ultimatum when things are going horribly for the clandestine operations of the United States government. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), an agent in the Outcome program, is in Alaska on a training exercise when the events of the third film are taking place. The head of the clandestine operations of the US are doing everything they can to contain an outpouring of information about their programs and missions from occurring in the near future. They begin to dispose of everyone associated with the programs and plan on rebuilding each program from the ground up. Cross is one of the assets that is marked for disposal but he decides to fight back.

As in all the Bourne movies, the action throughout the film is fantastic. The fights and shootouts are incredibly choreographed and the chase scene on the motorcycles at the end of the film was one of my favorite chase sequences of the franchise. Jeremy Renner also brings a breath of fresh air to the series as his character is fully aware of his actions and the actions of the program that he is a part of. Jason Bourne’s amnesia kind of became stale throughout the first three movies, so the introduction of an agent who is aware of everything he did in the past was a welcome addition. Renner’s chemistry with Weisz was fantastic as well and the scenes that they share are the best in the movie by far. Having Edward Norton play the main antagonist was also a very inspired choice. It has been a while since I have seen Norton in something that was worth watching and he was great in the movie playing the bureaucrat who is trying to do everything in his power to cover his ass. I am not going to spoil the plot for anyone, but at a certain point they start to introduce light science fiction elements into the film and they actually make sense. That was a huge surprise and I hope they elaborate on those elements in future installments. 

The simple fact is that Matt Damon was a better lead in the first three movies. I’m not saying that Jeremy Renner does a bad job it is just that Damon did a better job in the same franchise. The movie also spends a lot of time in the beginning establishing a reason for this movie to even exist. In the first three movies there were only two programs named and then in this movie a whole more bunch pop up out of nowhere. You also don’t get a real sense that the “bad guy” in the movie is really evil. Norton plays the character as a man who is trying to protect the reputation of the United States by not letting all of the facts of the operations become public.  I also wished there were more action scenes in the movie but that is a minor complaint because the action scenes are so great that I always want more action scenes in these movies.

This is a great addition to the Bourne franchise and on its own it is a great spy thriller. It is the third best movie in the franchise right behind The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Ultimatum. There is definitely room for the franchise to grow from here, telling fresh stories about Aaron Cross and his future adventures.