Film Review: The Bourne Legacy
The Bourne Legacy is one of the hotly anticipated sequels of the summer that aims to restart the Bourne series. Taking on a new director in Tony Gilroy (co-writer for the original trilogy) and writing a fresh new story (taking the name of a Bourne novel not written by Robert Ludlum), it seems that The Bourne Legacy unfortunately pales in comparison to the first three.
Set during the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) – a member of the program ‘Operation Outcome’ – is on the run with ‘Outcome’ scientist Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) when Eric Byer (Edward Norton) and his shady part of the government shut down their operations (killing off all participants of the program) as Jason Bourne exposes the ‘Treadstone Project’ and ‘Operation Blackfriar’.
Sounds tense, right? Unfortunately, tension does not seem to be in Gilroy’s vocabulary, as the film’s tedious, slow first half and manic second half do not work in harmony. The constant location hopping in the first 20 minutes or so only serve to confuse and frustrate, and the tedious one-dimensional characters of the film are in no way engaging (wasting perfectly good talent like Jeremy Renner and Edward Norton, who do a great job despite the bad writing).
Whilst some of the editing is pretty slick, the supposed action-sequences are little more than manic, choppy, confusing, blurred images. Any action in these scenes is concealed by shoddy camerawork. Fast editing does not always make for tension. The editing almost ostracizes the viewer, jarring them out of the film and back into reality, and trying to re-enter the moment becomes exceedingly difficult. The pacing of the action scenes is horrendous. Then the viewer finds themselves back to lackluster dialogue scenes (again, frustratingly, the hand-held two shot returns, making it seem like Cross and Shearing are having a conversation on a dinghy in a storm when they are just sitting in a normal room), the CIA scowling at their computer screens. Repeat until credits.
Renner already faces the daunting task of not being Matt Damon (who played Jason Bourne in the trilogy), but gives a decent performance, working with the poor screenplay. As we know from Avengers Assemble, he is already built for action scenes and a hint of cynicism in his voice can make for some interesting scenes, but ultimately the bad writing does not work in his favour and gives us a character that we do not particularly care much about. As the entire film surrounds this character and his attempt to survive all attacks against him, the film almost crumbles from within.
Weisz offers a great performance even though the hint of love interest aspect is a little forced, and Norton as ever is fantastic but is fairly useless just growling at his team in the computer room. Hopefully he will make more of an appearance in a sequel. What should have been a tense cat-and-mouse chase between Byer and Cross sadly became an unbalanced, bewildering mess.
Whilst there are some great moments between Renner and Weisz, a good performance from Norton and some suspenseful sequences, The Bourne Legacy eventually just falls apart. There is no finesse or balance to any of it, and in the end all the audience is left with are several dull chase scenes and many confusing, boring dialogue scenes with characters that no one really cares about.