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The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Legacy

What She said:

He

When I first heard they were making a Bourne movie without Matt Damon, I was not excited at all. I am not generally a fan of actors replacing characters played by someone else. It usually doesn’t work for me. But when I found out that Jeremy Renner wasn’t playing actually playing Jason Bourne, I started paying attention again. It got ripped pretty good in theaters, so I didn’t feel like I had to rush out and see it, but I finally got around to seeing it.

A little background might prove helpful. This movie takes place during The Bourne Ultimatum (the 3rd Jason Bourne movie). By this point in the series Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) has abandoned his position as a CIA operative, has been on the run from them for a few years, and has threatened to expose their secret (and illegal) activities. Though the operation has not fully been exposed to the public, some stuff begins to leak out, so everyone involved in Bourne’s program tries to erase evidence of its existence. This means people are going to die.  

Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is a member of Operation Outcome. Outcome is an offshoot of the program Bourne was involved in, Treadstone. Outcome’s goal is similar to Treadstone’s, but they take it a step further. Not only do they seek to create the perfect soldier, they want to enhance their capabilities beyond normal human capabilities. Aaron is given a series of drugs that enhance his physical and mental abilities. He is a next generation version of super soldier. Bourne pretty much wiped out all the rest of the soldiers who were hunting him down, and the CIA wasn’t simply going to let this kind of resource go to waste, so they took the research from Treadstone and upgraded it. All indications are that Aaron Cross is a success. He’s faster, more durable, has increased agility, and seemingly much smarter than he was before he entered the program. Unfortunately for him, when the people behind Outcome decided they need to erase any evidence connecting them to this secret project, they try to kill him.

The Bourne Legacy

While on the run, he seeks out Dr. Marta Shearing for some assistance. Dr. Shearing (Rachael Weisz) is a part of the team that created the drugs that enhanced Cross’s – and several others – abilities. She is also on the list of people who has got to go when they people behind Outcome decided to clean house.

As is the case with a typical Bourne movie, there’s a lot of running away from government assassins, car chases, and other action sequences. I guess I would have to admit it was nothing new in that sense. But the addition of the sci fi elements to the plot were a change and I feel like that worked. I was a little worried that the introduction of this kind of stuff wouldn’t fit, but considering the premise of the original movie, I felt it was simply an logical expansion of the storyline. Jason Bourne was the product of intense training and psychological brainwashing (for lack of a better word). It seems rational to me that the next step in that process is to introduce performance enhancing substances. It was just enough to make it still seem realistic in this franchise’s universe.

The movie was a little wordy and times and sometimes I felt like I didn’t know what was going on. However, after reading the plot summary in prep for this review, I realized I just didn’t remember all the names and faces from other movies. That's my biggest problem with it. There's a lot history going on here and if yo udon't remember all of it, you may be confused. You don’t have to have seen the previous entries to know the overall story. Aaron Cross is a kick-ass soldier and his creators turn their back on them when their questionable activities are discovered. But all of the mentions of past events and characters may confuse you if you haven’t seen the other Bourne movies.

The acting was solid. Renner and Weisz are good. They have good chemistry. Cross might actually be a little more personable/likeable than Jason Bourne. The supporting cast is also quite good. Edward Norton, Stacey Keach, Donna Murphy, and others fit right in as these cold and calculating government agents who will do anything to cover their asses.  

I just don’t know what to make of critics sometimes. I think a lot of them have a habit of just piggybacking off one another. If you want to tell me this isn’t as good as the other Bourne flicks (though I haven’t seen the 2nd and 3rd ones in a while to be totally fair), I won’t get too upset. But I wouldn’t say this is as bad as reviews say for one second. It’s an entertaining movie and well-acted, even if it isn’t the best movie ever made.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on January 15, 2013.

The Bourne Legacy

What he said:

She

I’ve been interested in The Bourne Legacy since I saw its first trailers more than a year ago.  However, after the movie was released I was bummed out by the negative critics’ reviews.  The movie carries a 56 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, which is typically a more forgiving aggregator compared to Metacritic.  So, I passed on seeing the movie in theaters and figured I’d check it out on DVD.  When, months later, the movie was finally released for my in-home enjoyment, I again hesitated.  Will it be so bad that it spoils the entire Bourne franchise for me?  The Bourne movies up until this point have been action packed, with awesome chase sequences and a tight script. 

Well, I’m happy to say that The Bourne Legacy did not disappoint, at least not as much as I had envisioned in my worst case scenario.  Is it as good as the original Bourne?  Not quite, but The Bourne Legacy delivers on its promise to be filled with action and to continue the storyline of the previous flicks.  The movie has a solid cast, Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, and Edward Norton, as well as other familiar faces.  And you’ll see them flash photos of Matt Damon’s face here and there, although he doesn’t make an actual live appearance in the film.  Jason Bourne, while important to the storyline of The Bourne Legacy, is not a main character in this movie. 

The Bourne Legacy

Instead, The Bourne Legacy primarily follows the character of Aaron Cross.  He, like Jason Bourne, is a product of a special program hosted by the U.S. Government to create super CIA agents/assassins.  He takes pills every day to improve his physical and mental competence, and boy do they work.  He can run farther, think faster, and scale buildings like it’s nobody’s business.  But with Jason Bourne gone rogue the government is looking to shut down the program entirely.  That’s code for erasing any evidence that it ever existed, aka killing everyone involved.  So, there are people after Cross, and scientist Dr. Marta Shearing, who helped to create the medications that make those like Cross so amazing.  Cross is desperate to save his life in more ways than one.  He doesn’t just want to become untraceable; he wants to remain superhuman.  As the government closes in on Shearing, looking to snuff out the final link, Cross swoops in and recruits her to help him stay smarter and stronger.  The two of them do some globe traveling as they try to stay one step ahead of their would-be killers.

I was a little rusty on the background of the Bourne enterprise, but quickly got my ducks in a row and started to understand exactly what was going on in this movie.  The government really wants to cover their tracks, and they’ll pretty much stop at nothing.  For example, they actually use drones to try to kill Cross.  Interesting stuff.  The action in this movie is pretty good overall.  Not quite as novel as the past Bourne movies, but still fun to watch.  At least, I didn’t get bored, and that’s saying something for me.  I was also pleased by Jeremy Renner’s performance.  He’s really established himself as a viable action star, despite seeming a bit small in comparison to someone like Schwarzenegger or Stallone.  I liked that he’s the every man’s Jason Bourne—he wasn’t a genius before voluntarily entering the superhuman program, and that’s motivation for him wanting to remain juiced.  Renner and Weisz have good on screen chemistry, which makes the movie even easier to watch.  With a running time of 2 hours and 15 minutes, some may feel that it drags on a little, but I didn’t get that impression. 

While it’s not quite as fantastic as the other Bourne movies, The Bourne Legacy is still fun excursion.  It’s definitely worth a Saturday night rental, and if you’re a fan of thriller/action movies, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Thumbs up.