The Bourne Legacy

THE BOURNE LEGACY is a sequel with the uphill task of replacing its title character. Not recasting, like James Bond, but creating a new hero, like when Valerie Harper got fired from Valerie and they brought in Sandy Duncan as her sister-in-law. I actually think that’s more interesting than if they just made another Matt Damon BOURNE. I liked those movies but I think they’re pretty repetitive, and they wrapped up that storyline anyway. Enough of that, I say. But I’m surprised the studio thought there were enough people like me to justify making this movie.

(And I thought they were wrong, based on the reviews I’d heard. I know at least a couple of you guys hated it, and I assumed not many went to see it. But I just looked it up and it turns out it made more money than they expected it to and they might do another one.)

Amnesiac superspy Jason Bourne was created in a secret CIA program called Treadwell. After he figured out his identity, established supremacy and gave them an ultimatum he gave Treadwell the Bourne Exposure. Now the intelligence community powers that be (Edward Norton) are flipping their wigs ’cause they worry that those fuckups could endanger better programs, like this one called Outcome which Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is a part of.

When the movie begins, Cross is at a remote Alaskan black ops training ground, swimming through icy water, climbing mountains, leaping across chasms, fighting wolves (he handles it better, but less poetic, than the guy in THE GREY), surviving alone, stopping to take pills and shoot up. He eventually meets up with another agent played by Oscar Isaac. I didn’t know he was gonna be in the movie, and he’s so perfect because just like in DRIVE and SUCKER PUNCH you can read him different ways, he could be a threat or a great help. Are they bonding or is this a test? Perfect casting to crank up the paranoia early on. They stay in a cabin (like HANNA or THE AMERICAN – assassins always hide out in remote icy cabins), Cross asks too many questions, gets no clear answers, then headquarters tries to kill them. Doesn’t kill Cross.

So, like Bourne, Cross is on the run and trying to find answers. But he hasn’t forgotten who he is, he just hasn’t been told what they’re doing to him. Norton is his antagonist, but he does it from far away, setting up a “crisis suite,” barking orders at a command center full of experts looking through files, watching security feeds, making phone calls, raising their hand if they need a higher security clearance.

Meanwhile there’s this lab where Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) works. They do something with the Outcome subjects, doing check ups on them, we’re not sure what else. Through flashbacks we know she’s examined Cross before. Then one day one of her colleagues locks the doors and starts shooting everybody. I’m glad I watched it before the most recent mass-shooting incident that’s in the news, because that would’ve made it more painful. It’s a harrowing sequence taking advantage of our knowledge and fears of real life “guy suddenly snaps” workplace shootings, plus the old conspiracy theorist’s favorite that they could be mind controlled government hits. I gotta question the sanity of people when they suggest that in real life, but of course in the world of BOURNE it makes perfect sense.

We follow Weisz as she escapes this and deals with the aftermath. I like when movies go off on tangents and pull me in enough that I forget we’ve gotten away from the other thing. So I was off guard when the storylines suddenly met up. Good stuff.

Here’s an interesting character detail about Cross: when he uses a wolf as a decoy to escape from a drone he takes a moment to tell the wolf, “You shoulda left me alone.” Like he genuinely feels kinda bad about it. Or he feels he has to justify himself to the wolf. Look pal, I was just gonna get blown up but you brought this upon yourself.

Director Tony MICHAEL CLAYTON Gilroy – who was a writer on the others, but had some disagreements with sequelist Paul Greengrass and star Matt Damon – seems to have made a conscious effort to shoot it as if purposely directed by somebody instead of Greengrass’s “oh shit, there’s a guy running and we happen to have a couple handheld cameras here!” approach. He assumes people will still recognize it as BOURNE because of all the scenes of character actors barking out orders in rooms full of people looking at different files and security camera feeds on different computer screens. I appreciate the slightly more MISSION:IMPOSSIBLEish approach, where the camera holds still for a motorcycle flip or shows a parkour guy run up a house in one shot, though some fights still have pretty quick cuts and closer-than-I’d-like cameras.

Near the beginning they have Paddy Considine as a reporter for The Guardian, and I thought “oh cool, I didn’t know Paddy Considine was gonna be in this,” but then he immediately gets shot, and I thought “oh yeah, that was footage from THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, I forgot he was in that.” There are a bunch of small appearances by great character actors: David Strathairn, Albert Finney, Scott Glenn, Stacy Keach. Joan Allen (DEATH RACE, FACE/OFF) returns as Pamela Landy, but I bet she filmed her part in a day or two. It feels a little forced.

In my opinion that’s the one thing holding the movie back a little bit is how much they put into tying it in with the previous movies. They overlap it with ULTIMATUM, showing that Norton’s character was the one pulling the strings, calling for the journalist to be killed. They have characters looking at Bourne’s file, they show his photo and talk about him on the news, and in one part that made logical sense but still made me laugh Cross notices where Bourne carved his name into the rafters of the cabin hideout. Bourne was here! I know this is all for those people who weren’t as easily sold on a new main character as I was, but I doubt it helped. It just draws attention to Damon’s non-participation. A couple times it felt like one of those DVD extras, like the one on xXx where they killed off Xander Cage. I kept expecting Matt Damon’s stunt double to play the back of his head.

Man, maybe Ice Cube should’ve starred in this one? Nah, Jeremy Renner’s good though.

Directationally it doesn’t feel nearly as confident as MICHAEL CLAYTON, but when it gets rolling it does have tastes of that thick tension and dramatic complexity. The new shit is much more compelling than the Bourne shit. Cross is basically a junkie, spending the whole movie trying to get his “chems,” and when he first saves Marta he seems kind of crazed, more like an abductor than a rescuer. Just like he didn’t know what to make of Oscar Isaac, she has no idea if she can trust him, and vice versa (although this time the audience has a pretty good idea they’re both clean).

I think their relationship is interesting in unexpected ways. They’re both discarded pawns of a conspiracy between intelligence agencies, military units, scientific researchers and pharmaceutical companies. He needs her because she’s the closest inside he can get, she needs him because he’s the only person willing and able to stop the people who plan to blow her head off. She’s a good person at heart but she’s used her talents for this morally questionable thing and he guilts her about it. She justifies herself on the basis of ignorance, or greater good. “I was there for science!” But is that enough? She must not be sure.

I like that the Outcome agents keep their drugs in a container inside their dogtags. It’s a good visual representation of their predicament: the symbol of their enlistment is also the vessel of their dependency.

(How’s that for a high falutin sentence? God only knows what the rest of 2013 will bring.)

There’s alot of talk about Cross being amazing and beating previous records and stuff, and he does some impressive action feats, but they don’t really give him super powers or anything. They just work hard at creating a plausible sounding science behind how this action hero was created. Maybe if there’s a BOURNE CONTINUATION he’ll start doing Wolverine shit. (If there’s not then I guess this will be a mostly forgotten footnote, like xXx STATE OF THE UNION or U.S. MARSHALS.)

THE BOURNE LEGACY may be only the third best Jeremy Renner action franchise of 2012, but it’s its second best UNIVERSAL SOLDIER movie. I enjoyed it.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013 at 12:51 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

51 Responses to “The Bourne Legacy”

  1. I didn’t think it was that bad either. Renner’s great, I like Weisz and there’s some good action. However, the story doesn’t really GO anywhere. At a certain point, the two of them are on the run, and they stay that way for the rest of the movie and are only concerned with treating Cross’ condition, while everything that was accomplished by the end of the last movie is undone(Strathairn gets away with it, Landy is branded a traitor, Finney is killed), which you’d think is a reason why Bourne WOULDN’T be done with all this, but if Damon stays out of it, the character’s just going to look like a quitter.

  2. Vern, I believe I’m the yin to your yang on this one. I agree with all the points you make, it’s just that the degrees to which I agree cause me to put this more in the negative column. I felt the adherence to previous films dragged this sucker down way more than you did, and conversely hurt the parts that you and I agree worked: anything dealing with Alex Cross and Dr. Shearing, a.k.a. FLOWERS FOR ALGERBOURNE.

    Seriously, I loved the wacked out notion of the pills boasting Cross’s intelligence and prowess, and the panic he felt knowing that his smarts would leave him has soon as the blues disappeared. Conversely, I really wasn’t drawn into all the command center side stories that grew to feel more like the trunk of the tree than a interesting branch. Your hero shouldn’t feel tangential to the main story, is what I’m trying to say. I really wanted the suits to drop away, and focus on our hero, his magic pills, and the woman who cures him.

    P.S. Happy New Year bud: keep the hits coming!

  3. Yeah this was surprisingly good.
    I really liked the flowers for algernon aspect of it and but thought they would do more with that than they did.

    Infact I think the film was a little baggy; a little long and not in the same good way that Michael Clayton was.

    If it was a bit tighter and was concentrated more on the fantastic ideas than I think it would have had more of an impact when it came out.

    As it is it takes a a couple of watches to really appreciate how good a movie this is.

  4. I thought this was decent, but the lack of a proper, one-on-one, mano-a-mano, duel-to-the-death, man-to-man (etc) climax in favour of a (SPOILER-SPOILER-SPOILER) CG motorbike chase was a bit of a cheat. I’d watch another one, though.

  5. I liked it, though it definitely wasn’t flawless. I woulda preferred a more…climactic showdown between Cross and the yakuza dude from Predators(I mean, sure, I like motorcycle chases, but I woulda preferred an actual physical showdown), I wasn’t thrilled with them basically undoing ALL the closure from the last Bourne movie, and it was a little longer than need be, but I still enjoyed it. And Renner was suitably badass(his fighting style seems a bit more…brutal and direct than Bourne’s was, looked to use a little Filipino martial arts in the techniques), so I wouldn’t mind seeing another one with him, perhaps a little leaner and more focused, since then they don’t have to worry about overlapping it with Damon’s Bourne movies or spend time introducing us to Cross and what he is. and the program he was in and such.

  6. **. . . another agent played by Oscar Isaac. I didn’t know he was gonna be in the movie, and he’s so perfect because just like in DRIVE and SUCKER PUNCH you can read him different ways, he could be a threat or a great help. Are they bonding or is this a test? Perfect casting to crank up the paranoia early on.**

    For the 20th time, you gotta check out AGORA. You can plug in ^these exact words^ for Oscar Isaac’s character in that one, especially the early post-battle scene where you don’t know whether he’s gonna betray his classmates or turn his sword on those who threaten them, whether he’s gonna go lust-crazy-vengeful over Hypatia or play it cool, whether he’ll maintain his scientifical-rational beliefs or turn to violent uber-Christianity.
    Isaac was also great in a similar but more low-key way in BODY OF LIES, but you already knew that.

    Shit, I didn’t know he was in this either. We can share the Oscar Isaac appreciation/fanboyism, Vern, even if it was my thing first, but don’t be stealing my penchant for pseudo-poetic pedantry; that’s definitely my thing, goddammit. For these reasons — the casting, and because I *must* outdo Vern’s “high falutin sentence” in a BOU4NE LEGACY review — it is time for me to bump this up on the to-watch list.

  7. Did anyone else think Oscar Isaac might have lived? He definitely acts more “in the know” than Cross, and the way they shot that scene would allow for him to run off to safety when the camera moves away from the cabin.

  8. My favorite badass moment in this was Cross taking out the security guards in the basement of the pharma factory. Just a real quick and mean assbeating. I also loved the single-shot you mention of him parkouring up the side of the house.

    There were moments in this where Cross seemed like way less of a superman than Bourne, and then there were scenes like that where he seemed like Bourne Jr. I wasn’t sure if this inconsistency was intentional, or maybe I was perceiving it when it wasn’t there. The big climactic chase was a let-down for me. Too much post-action framing and cutting, and I hated that they gave LARX a cool setup (“Treadstone without the inconsistency” or whatever) and had him taken out with a stray Rachel Weisz kick. I mean Rachel Weisz is cool and all but like Jam and DKS said, I was really hoping the chase was building to a brutal hand-to-hand showdown between Larx and Cross.

    I found the movie a little generic compared to the strong Tony Gilroy flavor of Michael Clayton, but I still dug aspects of it. Gilroy’s got a knack for bureaucratic dialogue.

  9. I really enjoyed this movie for 99% of the running time, but then when it got to the end, I was kind of shocked. This movie didn’t have a 3rd act! It literally ends at the end of the second act of the story. Nothing gets resolved. I’m sure they wanted to leave it open for future installments, but this is ridiculous. At least in the previous films they would defeat the main villain. They couldn’t even be bothered with that in this one. I am seriously baffled at this choice. Vern, I’m surprised you weren’t bothered by this.

  10. It just occurred to me how similar Aaron Cross sounds to Alex Cross, another ineffectual action hero. I realized this even before Bad Seed’s typo.

  11. I liked this better than some of the other BOURNE movies. I’m just a sucker for that getting the best character actors in the world thing, seeing Stacy Keach back on the big screen just made my heart melt and I love anything with Rachel Weisz. I say bring on some more, maybe next time they can cast Tom Berenger.

  12. Holy shit Fred, I didn’t even realize my mistake; truly 2012 was the year of the Cross, and what a lackluster year it was.

  13. “Don’t Cross Alex Cross” is my favourite awful tagline of 2012. A room of people – PEOPLE WHO WERE PAID REAL, ACTUAL MONEY – came up with that and signed off on it.

    Good job there, Don Draper.

  14. I liked this one but was also pissed that it unraveled the resolution of the previous three films. They did not have to go there to show that there were more programs to cover up. I would love to see a sequel that fixes that mess, with or without Damon’s involvement. And they don’t need to go killing The doctor, either. Dead girlfriend’s been done already. Find another reason for Renner to o after the Feds. (I like the idea of the other super soldier still being alive.)

    On OT topic, I wonder if Alex Cross would have been better of Tyler Perry had done it as Medea. Or Matthew Fox played it as Jack from Lost. It at least would have been more interesting.

  15. ” It’s a harrowing sequence taking advantage of our knowledge and fears of real life “guy suddenly snaps” workplace shootings, plus the old conspiracy theorist’s favorite that they could be mind controlled government hits. I gotta question the sanity of people when they suggest that in real life, but of course in the world of BOURNE it makes perfect sense.”

    wow, I’m surprised the movie goes there, but you’d be surprised at how many people believe that shit for real, conspiracy theorists have been breeding like cockroaches on the internet these last few years, they’re everywhere!

    “A couple times it felt like one of those DVD extras, like the one on xXx where they killed off Xander Cage. I kept expecting Matt Damon’s stunt double to play the back of his head.”


  16. Jareth Cutestory

    January 3rd, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Eh, the workplace shooting scene was only slightly more harrowing than what you’d get in any of the “super-soldiers” episodes of later season X-FILES.

    And let’s be honest: Norton never “barked” an order in his life. He has two modes of acting: petulant and bitchy. At best, he “tantrumed” an order.

  17. Is there anyone else involved in as many franchises (or potential franchises) right now than Renner? This, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, THE AVENGERS(and any potential solo movies he could cameo in), HANSEL AND GRETEL…

  18. The heart warming journey of a man too retarded for even the military without his medicine, and the doctor who won’t give up on him. Movie seemed like the first third of a regular bourne movie stretched into two hours, with the two action scenes in the movie (escaping from the house and then the pharmaceutical place at the end) just going on forever to fill the time. I thought that bike chase was never going to end, then it did and suddenly the whole movie was over. I don’t even know what the point of this thing was, was I supposed to be excitedly anticipating Edward Norton being brought to justice for that wolf killed by a drone strike in a future movie?

  19. it is weird how much Renner’s career blew up, I still remember when the guy was only known as Dahmer

  20. Griff, I’d say weird, but in a good way. Sometimes the system works, and an actor for working for decades gets his or her due. For Renner I think the breaking point was THE HURT LOCKER; not just because he was so good in that flick (but he was) but also because it built on an onscreen persona he’d been developing for years: the AWOL solider who does what he does despite the system (SWAT; 28 WEEKS LATER, etc.). All these movies gave people a sense of how they could use him in future films, and he took off from there.

  21. What are you guys babbling about? Renner will always be the lead who didn’t take LSD at the beginning of NATIONAL LAMPOON’S SENIOR TRIP.

  22. The original Paul

    January 4th, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    I was absolutely bothered by the ending, as were most people who’ve seen it I think. Other than that I pretty much agree with Vern on most counts. But then I posted a review of this one in the forums when it came out, I won’t start quoting that again. Still thought it was overall a good movie with a few standout scenes though. Definitely better than “Skyfall”.

  23. The original Paul

    January 4th, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    And Norton gets my vote for “most bafflingly miscast actor of 2013”. I just do not see how could ever have thought it would be a good idea to cast Worm from “Rounders” in the role that he has. I don’t care HOW good an actor you are, there’s some parts that you just aren’t suited for. Seeing Norton play a cut down version of Brian Cox’s character from the first two “Bourne” movies was like… seeing Christina Ricci try to play the T-1000 or something.

  24. The original Paul

    January 4th, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Although considering the T-1000 can look like pretty much anything it chooses, that might have been the worst example I could possibly have chosen… I meant whatever Terminator was the one that Arnie played! (The T-800?)

  25. I’m a fan of the Bourne films and feel that they have revitalised (and also probably overstimulated) action films of the last 10 years. I loved the way that ULTIMATUM leapt inside SUPREMACY and my favourite scene of any spy movie is either Bourne’s discussion with Pam Landy in SUPREMACY as he’s looking through a sniper scope or his patient silence as the CIA guy in Naples phones in to her in the same movie before Bourne thumps both him and the cop guarding him.

    But I didn’t think that this was in the same league as that movie. As mentioned, it just kind of ends, and it can’t top Bourne’s window hopping in terms of action so it forgets to really have any (well, not much that you’re bothered about, although I enjoyed the sequence in the house). And it does undo what BOURNE ULTIMATUM did to end what with discrediting Landy, but I guess that’s what illegal covert assassin programs would do if they existed and were revealed to the public.


    Jeremy Renner is fantastic. Between his discussion of how Rachel Weisz refers to him in this (‘Five?!?! The NUMBER FIVE?!?!?’) and his description of his server jump in MI: GHOST PROTOCOL (‘I’m jumping into an oven!’), that guy can deliver a line with the kind of petty humour that other superspies forgo, and he has a unique identity (no pun intended) because of it. I woud watch another with him, but it really would have to pull itself together in terms of plot.

  26. This flick is the best badass antidote to any suicidal depression that may have been caused by THE GREY.

  27. I still haven’t seen The Bourne Legacy yet, so I can’t comment on how good or bad it is, but I don’t think every Bourne movie needs some sort of epic showdown between the antagonist and protagonist. Maybe I’ll feel let down by the motorcycle chase scene too, but I can’t stand it when I’m watching a film and you can tell something was included to satisfy some checklist some exec came up with. I’m surprised how divided the opinions have been on this movie though. One of my friends didn’t even finish it, while one of my coworkers at DISH thought it was the best Bourne film yet. Since I’m a big fan of the franchise, I hope I fall into the latter camp. I had considered buying it the other day. But buying movies without seeing them first has gotten me too many movies that I’ll never watch again (I don’t even want to add up what I’ve spent on those). After finally realizing that I decided to change my habits and I started using DISH’s Blockbuster @Home to rent all my movies first. I get a ton of options with Blockbuster @Home, including thousands of titles streamed to my TV and PC and over 100,000 titles by mail. And the best part is, it saves me a lot of money on movies that I want to see, but probably regret buying.

  28. So I wasn’t going to see this, but then my curiosity got the best of me and I checked it out. Honestly, for a completely superfluous sequel, it’s not bad. It was fine, I wasn’t completely un-entertained.

    But I have to say, considering how much more dialed back Gilroy’s style is compared to Greengrass, I thought the action was way, way worse/less coherent than the Greengrass BOURNE films. For all the shit Greengrass gets about his shaky cam, it always looked to me like a lot of care was put into the editing. They chose shots that clearly illustrated the movement in the frame, and pieced them together in a logical sequence so you could easly see how A leads to B leads to C. Gilroy, on the other hand, doesn’t shake or zoom the camera so much, and doesn’t seem to cut quite as fast, yet the framing is too tight and the editing is unclear, and I found the action scenes to be mildly confusing eye sores.

    Also, am I nuts, or was BOURNE LEGACY absurdly anti-climactic? Nothing really happens by the end; it just kinda glibly sets up a sequel that probably won’t happen. Obviously there is a big action scene, but otherwise not much resolution. All that the heroes have accomplished by the end is 1) Aaron is off the drugs and 2) they didn’t get killed. Unlike the other films, no corruption is exposes, none of the major villains are taken out, no new information is discovered about the programs. They just kinda temporarily get away after kicking one dude’s ass. I was a little dumbstruck when the credits started rolling; I was assuming we were going to get at least one more scene of them somehow exposing or confronting Edward Norton, or something.

  29. Dan— I came away from it with a similar impression. It felt like 1/2-2/3 of a movie that was strung out to full-length. Perhaps too leisurely paced for this kind of movie.

    Renner was well up to the task here, but Norton is glaringly miscast. He doesn’t inspire fear or trepidation, and in that type of role… he really needs to.

    I’m guessing one & done for the new Bourne trilogy.

  30. Lar Bear,

    I liked Renner enough in the role that I’d be down for another film with Aaron Cross. He was a nice contrast to Bourne; talkative, lively, inquisitive. He didn’t feel like a rehash. I’d really dig it if they got Damon back and Cross and Bourne teamed up in the next one, FAST & FURIOUS sequel style… but it sounds like if Damon returns to the franchise, they aren’t going to bring back Renner. Shame.

  31. Dan Man— Oh dopey me to not check the numbers before reading the last rites for a possible sequel. The Bourne Legacy:
    $125 million budget
    $276 million gross theatrical (worldwide); 41% domestic / 59% foreign.
    Factor in ancillary markets, and you’ve got a tidy profit margin. Greenlight numero dos, if you please.

    You’re correct about Renner vis-a-vis Damon. Renner’s kind of hard to pin down as an actor (maybe a large part of his appeal), and it was something of a relief to watch him lighten the mood. Damon’s whole take on his character— the introspective, brooding, conflicted “who am I?” search for self— was tolerable enough for one movie, but I thought it was a bit much over the next two.

    I got the impression that maybe Renner tore out a few pages from Guy Pearce’s Memento playbook as he approached making The Bourne Legacy, in the sense that even though his character has a great many unanswered questions, he just kind of propels himself forward (via improvisation & a neglect of fear) and lets the situation unfold as it may. Just a hunch.

  32. billydeethrilliams

    November 8th, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    And now we have Justin Lin to direct the sequel. Maybe he’ll inject something interesting…

  33. Yeah that news surprised me, but hey I hope Lin gets a big bag of money to rescue another franchise.

    (and I know Vern very much disagrees with what I just wrote there. Maybe the better wording should be that Lin was hired to make an established franchise EVEN BETTER! Yeah that sounds good.)

  34. I liked all the BOURNE films. Looking forward to this one, though the quiet dropping of Gilroy (as writer) is a little disappointing.

    Having said that, DUPLICITY.

  35. Justin Lin on BOURNE LEGACY sequel? I approve.

  36. Is this the first action movie where the hero literally falls asleep during the big finale? Considering how incredibly long the final chase was, I damn near laughed out loud when Renner channeled the home viewer and nodded off while Weisz had to handle the T-1000-esque assassin in a bike chase straight out of Return of the Jedi (and using ROTJ special effects, apparently).

    Viewed as a real movie, it’s not very good. But as a goofy Gus Van Sant Psycho-like experiment or big budgeted, extremely overqualified fan fiction, this movie is amazing and I can’t believe it got made. Even as a money-making product it’s too weird and too un-crowdpleasing – who decided “let’s cross Bourne with Flowers for Algernon + Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead and hope for the best!”? The movie’s shaggy and lopsided and weirdly paced. The ending is comically anticlimactic (when the strings of that Moby song came on, i was like “wait seriously, this is the end?”). But I’ll be damned if it didn’t work. The Oscar Isaac stuff is great, the fight scenes are good, Renner is different enough from Damon that it doesn’t feel like deja vu and plus he’s got great comic timing in a few scenes. And that workplace shooting scene may be the most harrowing, uncomfortable scene I’ve seen in a PG-13 summer movie in years.

    Btw, I guess the general consensus is that people didn’t like Norton’s turn as the villain. I actually thought he was great – he’s not supposed to be imposing or threatening, and that’s what makes him imposing and threatening if that makes sense. He’s an armchair quarterback, a videogame-generation villain who (like the nerdy tech guy) isn’t any less dangerous just because he can push a button and kill you with a drone. Watch the way Corey Stoll’s character barely suppresses a grin when he asks his superiors if he can utilize the Asian assassin guy, like a kid on Christmas asking to open his toys early. I can’t wait to see a sequel involving these characters again (but hopefully they’ll leave this separate from the real Bourne franchise in the future)

  37. I can see why people don´t like this one. It lacks the kinetic energy of the previous efforts and has a main character whose motivations aren´t as emphatic. I mean Bourne is kind of a tragic character who finds out he is an assassin and can´t really come to terms with it. Cross motivations was to get rid of his addiction and dependency of “the pills”, I guess?. I also never could separate the blue and the green and what they did, even though they explain it clearly. I think it is a symptom of the problems with this one. There is too much fluff. It is not entirely bad, it has a few good-to-great sequences, but as a follow up to the first three it doesn´t really hold up, especially if you watched all of them back to back as I did recently. The first six hours went by really quickly, but then came THE BOURNE LEGACY and put it to a halt.

    What was great about THE BOURNE IDENTITY was not only that it was a well-paced grounded thriller. Matt Damon is surprisingly good in the role, making the character believable with his straight faced confusion. It was also I belive, the first espionage action thriller where you actually got the sense that the main character was well trained. I can´t think of any other action film. Certainly not James Bond.

  38. The whole idea to do this film without Damon feels like a pretty cynical, bottom line-driven decision, and then everything about the actual film bears out that suspicion. Renner and Norton are like the Bourne film equivalent of the Dukes of Hazzard cousins, and there’s nothing fun, novel, or quirky about their characters, their competent but immediately forgettable performances, the scenery, or this story, which plays like it was written by some kind of automated Bourne sequel script generator algorithm. Seriously, do you remember one cool action scene or line of dialogue or fight or set piece or really compelling character from this movie? If so, you enjoyed this more and/or have a better memory than me. This is franchise milking at its most bleak and calculating.

  39. Skani— So, with your Renner/Norton-Bo Duke/Luke Duke comparison in mind:

    Oscar Isaac would be Cooter.
    Rachel Weisz would be Daisy Duke.
    Stacy Keach would be Sheriff Rosco P.Coltrane.
    And Scott Glenn would be Boss Hogg.
    (Alas, no Uncle Jesse replacement that I could suss out).

    I like where your head’s at, and agree about Matt Damon— if you take him out of the equation, it’s a whole different critter. I’m glad he’s back starring a new one, with Paul Greengrass directing. Should be a winner.

  40. Larry, for whatever reason, Stacy Keach felt more like the Boss Hogg, but with me positing Renner and Norton as Coy and Vance, my analogy was fairly shaky out of the gate. In that spirit, I’m nominating Albert Finney as the Uncle Jesse on the grounds for no other reason than that he qualifies as most avuncular.

    Aside from Renner (I am to date immune to his star power), I give these guys an “A” for casting and general efforts to switch this into the Bourne world. But everything else is so utterly bland and generic that it’s kind of sad how few narrative or visual or casting risks they took here–other than the foundational risk of doing this film without Damon, which is something, I guess.

    Looking forward to the next one. I know Vern disapproves of the fighting (he is right as far as the ACR), but I think on the whole, these movies are a lot of fun and Bourne is incredibly involving for a guy we don’t really know and doesn’t really know himself.

  41. Also, I did not realize that was Oscar Isaac until just now, since he’s a bigger deal now than he was then. The cabin encounter with him may qualify as one of the most novel, compelling, human moments in the film and actually does a commendable job of carrying the mantle of great “Treadstone operative sent to kill other, rogue Treadstone operative” cat and mouse shenanigans that have been a highlight of the prior trilogy. He did Clive Owen, Karl Urban and those other guys proud.

  42. Sorry, that was “stitch this into the Bourne world.” My undiagnosed aphasia foils me yet again.

  43. Wait, what the hell? I just actually re-read the Vern review (where he mentions Oscar Isaac), and I never realized he was also the husband from Drive. No wonder they cast this dude in Star Wars, he kicks ass.

  44. He was also the orderly in SUCKER PUNCH which is still my favorite performance from him.

  45. LEGACY is for the most part a pretty pisspoor excuse of an actionfilm, but that shot of Renner running up going through the window and shoot a bad guy is pure class.

  46. I still like the scene where Weisz screams out his name to warn him about the people coming after him, but I’m a sucker for someone screaming out someone’s name in an intense, passionate way. I know, it can be trite, but it gets me.

  47. Okay. I’ll commit to re-watching it (potentially fast-forwarding chunks) as part of the inevitable Bourne season marathon when the next one comes out. You had me at Oscar Isaac, etc. :)

  48. Also, it’s interesting to me how these films are so identified with Paul Greengrass, even though Doug Liman did part 1 (if I recall correctly, part 1 was being set up in the rumor mill as a very troubled and perhaps even doomed film only to end up being a hit). I think part 1 is a very solid film and may even be my favorite of this series. I mean, it produced what is still my favorite line of the series, when Chris Cooper says to Brian Cox, “Why don’t you go book a conference room and see if you can talk him to death.” Had to be there, I guess.

  49. Me too, Skani. In what other franchise is the second guy the most identified? Maybe Aliens. I’ve heard people who don’t know any better credit Cameron with creating ripley.

  50. In all fairness, Cameron created the strong warrior queen version of Ripley, that we all like so much. Not saying she was a weak wet blanket in part 1, but it was Cameron’s take on her, that made her an icon.

    About BOURNE and Greengrass: It’s really weird. Kinda like how people forgot that the first EVIL DEAD was more dark and serious than its sequels, most people forgot that the first BOURNE was actually a well shot movie, without all the unwatchable camera and editing work.

  51. Glad to know I’m not alone. The Greengrass camera work and low ACR don’t bother me quite so much as hardline Vern-ians, and I solidly enjoyed all three of the Damon bourne films. I enjoy the suspense, the globetrotting chase/mystery intrigue, the spycraft and MacGyver-esque improvising, the parkour elements, the consistently excellent casting and performances, and, of course, Damon’s Bourne. If this were just a straight up bust-em up movie with nothing else going for it, then I’d probably be harder on the ACR aspect. But, yeah, I think Liman’s work in part 1 is pretty ample evidence that you don’t need Greengrass to do a good Bourne. Greengrass and Damon must have seriously bonded–I’m thinking they’ve got matching tattoos.

    I also don’t really get the appeal of Jeremy Renner as an action lead. He’s a little too compact and squirrel in look and deameanor to be an everyman or bigger-than-life leading man, but neither is he off-kilter enough to be an “inspired” choice. He’s just kind of there. Added to this is the fact that he has approximately the same age, build, complexion, hairstyle as Damon in film titled “Bourne” that everywhere just completely reeks of derivative hackery.

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