I have not been the biggest fan of the sub-genre of action movies that The Bourne series flaunted but I loved them because they made a believer out of me. Not only were they extremely satisfying as action films, they were more. The two things I loved the most were Matt and Moby. Matt Damon climbed near the top of my list of favorite Hollywood stars. All Bourne films ended with the Moby song, Extreme Ways, to a gob-smackingly triumphant effect. I knew Matt Damon wouldnt feature in this film, which I conditioned myself to. The song didnt have to turn up either. All of these preconceived notions aside, I am aware that the storytelling is bigger than acting, music or any other technical strand.
The first hour of The Bourne Legacy is exquisitely plotted with tense moments. It doesnt need constant action or incessant cutting to keep you hooked. Jason Bournes trail lingers in the periphery while we are introduced to Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) through an image reminiscent of the previous films ending. The other tributary introduces us to Eric Byer (Edward Norton) who is later told to shut down Outcome program that Cross is a part of. If you have seen the third Bourne film, youd remember the super-soldier drugs. Then there is the scientist, Dr. Shearing (Rachel Weisz). Cross escape from the Alaskan wilderness, the shooting incident at the laboratory and Cross and Shearings escape after burning the house down are all superbly executed. The hope of a reboot seemed to have been realized but then I saw the rest of the film.
It doesnt help that Ive developed a dislike for Jeremy Renner as an actor (a stellar performance in The Hurt Locker, yes but after that, meh). Renner does have the chops to fit into a film like this. Despite having no charisma and an under-written character, he performs adequately. This film definitely didnt remove that dislike though. Gilroy also wastes an actor like Edward Norton and actually makes me hate Rachel Weisz during most of its runtime. A female character this badly written (and weak not just in character) looks stupendously ridiculous in a year when we have seen films like The Hunger Games, Brave, Prometheus, Snow White and the Huntsman and Haywire. Not only did I end up not caring for any of the characters, this damsel in distress managed to cultivate large amounts of annoyance within me.
Mr. Gilroys films look terrific and have a polished color palette. But it is his storytelling methods that are extremely condescending. He is good at writing scenes, but when he delivers the details, which are meant to give you a sense of the whole, you realize how unapologetically hollow the core is. There is a certain self-importance in his treatment and tonal choices that start to surface sooner or later. His best effort is the mediocre Duplicity (2009) because it never set out to be more than what it was and thankfully didnt think of itself as a momentous examination of its story.
The only way The Bourne series can be saved is by not letting the Aaron Cross timeline get another superfluous entry. This is not a good movie but it could feel like one if you want it to. It wants to be a film for that section of the audience that likes its action films to have brains. Only it isnt one and even fails as a standard action movie. The chase sequence at the end is so overwrought and woefully inept and that is lethal for a film like this. It is one of those death pills that several characters are made to consume. The film ends in an abrupt anti-climax that you wonder if you ever thought this film was beginning to be a good one at all. It should also be noted that the Bourne films never ended, they signed off (Many thanks to the song, especially the Ultimatum version). This film definitely doesnt know how to sign off. Moreover, the way it ends is a blemish on the legacy of the Bourne films.view less