Film Review: “The Bourne Legacy”

by Gordon Elgart on August 10, 2012

Rachel Weisz and Jeremy Renner in THE BOURNE LEGACY

starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton

written by: Tony Gilroy and Dan Gilroy

directed by: Tony Gilroy

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for violence and action sequences

The Bourne Legacy opens with parallel stories. In one, Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross is seen trekking through the frozen wilderness of Alaska, doing manly things like fighting wolves, shooting dinner, and jumping from mountain to mountain. In the other parallel story, a delightfully evil Edward Norton is leading a bunch of people in talking about a bunch of crap. You see, there’s Treadstone and Black Briar and something called Outcome, and there’s some people on YouTube who are friends, threatening to ruin their plans, and scary congressional hearings and reporters getting too close, and well … fuck it. I have no idea what was going on. Here’s what I do know. There’s some conspiracy, and they need to kill Jason Bourne Jeremy Renner.

And do you think this is easy? Heck, no. You see, he’s been given some sort of magic pills that are actually viruses, and maybe there’s a way they can use the virus to replace the pills so he won’t need to take the pills, and all I cared about was the science, I knew nothing about mind control and super soldiers, and well … fuck it. Now, Jeremy Renner has to help Rachel Weisz escape, too, and they’re off together, escaping from the evil government guys.

If this all sounds familiar, it’s because it totally is. There’s really nothing here resembling a story, so the movie needs to live on the charisma of the lead actors while hoping no one will notice how little of it makes sense. And if people in your row are dying of laughter every time the movie shoehorns in a mention of Jason Bourne with a picture of Matt Damon, that’s just par for the course. This is a movie that dumb people will think is smart, and smart people will think is dumb. If you’re in the middle, you might be completely bored.

There’s action sequences here, and they’re shot in that close-up, no idea what’s happening kind of way. Some of the individual money shots are pretty entertaining. Things blow up in the vicinity of Jeremy Renner a lot, and those are some pretty effective scenes. When stunts happen, though, it’s so obviously Not Jeremy Renner, it’s a bit distracting. If he gives an interview where he claims to have done most of his own stunts, he’s lying.

And then the entire thing goes off the rails in the final, extended-beyond-belief motorcycle chase that takes up what feels to be the entire third act of the movie. Making matters worse is that Not Jeremy Renner is being chased by a character clumsily introduced just for this moment. The entire length of this chase, I couldn’t help but thinking it was an homage to The Dark Rider from Toxic Avenger 2. But frankly, that would be impossible; instead, it simply must be lazy screenwriting.

The ending of this movie is fairly abrupt. I’m not sure I’ve seen a movie more interested in simply setting up a sequel than being its own story. It’s disappointing that they chose to go this way; as a whole, it’s all just so unsatisfying.

The Bourne Legacy opens nationwide today.

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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