Friday, August 10, 2012


Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Ed Norton

"There was never just one"

Cinema 4, Shang Cineplex

When I first learned they were shooting another Bourne movie, I was baffled as I knew "The Bourne Ultimatum" wrapped it all up. Jason Bourne's main purpose is over, he finds out who he is and why he is the way he is.

But as the blurb says "there was never just one" so the saga continues. This time it is directed by Tony Gilroy who was one of the scriptwriters of the 3 Bourne movies. And despite the title, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is merely mentioned from time to time through news clippings and inter agency dialogue among the CIA bigwigs. This film focuses on Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) an operative who is part of another CIA program, a spin off known as "Project Outcome". The exposure of "Operation Blackbriar" and "Treadstone" by Bourne and an impending Senate inquiry forces the conspirators to shut down all their running programs. So they set out to dispose all the agents of "Project Outcome".

This advanced program utilizes agents who are drugged with pills to make them more effective in their duties. With the cancellation of the program, the operatives have to find ways to survive without these color coded meds. Aaron Cross decides to go to the source, a research lab in Maryland. He is just in time to rescue Dr Martha Shearing (Rachel Weisz) from being liquidated by hired assassins.

The first part of the film is mostly dialogue driven shot in dark places with the CIA bigwigs in panic mode from the Bourne expose. The audio was pretty bad as I had a difficult time deciphering the dialogue. I thought it was simply at the theater where I watched but I read viewers at other cinemas had the same complaint. So I guess it was really filmed that way.

The various location scenes were still an integral part of this film but the action scenes were scaled down, remarkably. The thrilling chase scene (almost 20 minutes) shot on the chaotic scenes of Manila, although well directed and edited came a tad late in the film. By that point, the loopholes in the plot were too glaring to be salvaged. Aaron Cross merely wanted to get his hands on the pills to survive, he didn't have a larger agenda - is a rather flimsy premise. The film certainly has a different pace and a different focus. But it's surely still thrilling,but in a very different manner. The movie itself is more of a slow burn, but not particularly boring. Because you can still feel the sense of urgency on the part of Aaron Cross to survive, at all cost.

The new cast to whom the franchise has been handed down to is uniformly strong. I've admired Jeremy Renner for his steady and solid performance since I saw him in "The Hurt Locker". Here he proves himself a solid understudy for Damon, even if the character he plays is rather less interesting. He still gave his role some dimension by adding an air of mystery. It would be intriguing to unravel the personal demons that haunts Aaron Cross, in the next installment. Given that the ending was rather vague and open to a lot of speculations.

Edward Norton is equally good as the ruthless Colonel Byers. It would be interesting to know the personal history between Byers and Cross which they kept alluding to through grainy flashbacks. Rachel Weisz is persuasive and brings a sensitive portrayal to her role as the doctor caught in the turmoil. The chemistry between Cross and Dr Shearing is convincing with a hint of a romantic interlude in the offing.

So whether they decide to make a sequel or not, I still think "Bourne Legacy" did fairly good as a lengthened side plot of the Bourne saga. So although I don't expect Matt Damon to reprise his role, people should remember the character's name is Aaron Cross and not refer to him as Bourne. A mistake that I admit I tend to commit as well.

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