Rating: 3 of 5
The Bourne Legacy is a decent reboot. They worked hard to incorporate elements from earlier films and while somethings worked considerably better, others didn’t.
Jeremy Renner makes a good Treadstone agent (even if they’re not calling it Treadstone any more – even if they reinvent it 100 times within different branches of the government and kill all the other program agents in every single movie). He’s intense and interesting even when he’s largely emotionless. There are currents running deep that you can see and empathize with. He handles the action well, but that’s not a surprise. I especially liked his parkour. If they were going to hand the reins over to anyone, he was a good choice.
And I love Rachel Weisz. I mean, love her for her own sake but also love her a lot more than Franka Potente. The reason Rachel worked so well as this character is that she’s smart and beautiful but also strong and adaptable. She freaks out when everything gets started but gets control and you believe it later when she’s not afraid. When he tells her she’s a warrior you believe him because you can see the fierceness within her. And when she runs, there’s no doubting her strength.
Franka was always so breakable and unable to deal with the situation she’d been thrust into and unable to adapt and be strong instead of always being the whiny girl who questions everything.
But the writing/directing is where it lacked. It was clever to transect this one with the third movie – in much the same way the third transected the second. It tied it into the Bourne universe very well, but also made it really difficult for anyone not familiar with the series to truly keep up. It’s clever, but it’s not entirely fair in a reboot.
That could have been offset if they explained a little more. It would have been spoon-feeding the existing audience but I imagine they’re trying to bring in a new audience so a little explanation is fair. There was a lot of shop talk and short hand which didn’t help a new viewer really understand what was going on. (And what was Solo? The guys driving the drone were talking a lot to someone we never heard or saw – it was weird.)
The pace was also really off. It’s not fair, maybe, to compare this to the first Bourne which was so well done, but it made so many allusions to the first film it kind of opened itself up to the comparison. The first opened with a really intriguing shot and then carried it into a mystery that lasted less than fifteen minutes before there was a fight scene. From there it was a great mixture of quiet moments offset by bouts of action.
This one was slow, and then slow and then pretending that we have to act fast because everything is urgent but really it’s just people talking fast and nothing actually happening. And some more slow before there’s a little action. Then it’s foot chase on top of car chase on top of motorcycle chase and all the chasing went on far too long (though I did love how it ended for a whole host of reasons).
In the midst of all that slow it was also choppy – cutting between Aaron Cross who we had no idea what he was doing or why and more importantly why it mattered (and why did he lie about his chems to the guy?). Ultimately it didn’t matter except to see him jump across a mountain so it wasted probably a half hour of our time and didn’t make us any more interested in him or the story. Then the choppy scenes started intercutting with time jumps. Once the action settled in (in Manila) it was actually the easiest thing to follow.
I’m sure there’s going to be a sequel and I like the characters enough that I’m intrigued and Jeremy Renner handled the hand to hand combat superbly (and hand to hand is really my favorite). But the appeal of Bourne was always the every-man quality to him and while Jeremy Renner has that as an actor, taking the story line into sci-fi/genetic engineering realms doesn’t entirely make it feel like a Bourne film however many CIA crisis centers you operate out of.