Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Bourne Legacy

Year: 2012
Director: Tony Gilroy
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach, Dennis Boutsikaris, Oscar Isaac

Plot: Thanks to Jason Bourne, the CIA are scrambling to shut down all their secret operations involving genetically enhanced agents. The head of project Outcome, Eric Byer gives the order to terminate all the men under his program. Aaron Cross, one of those men, escapes his pursuers and seeks out Dr Marta Shearing, a scientist with the program whose life is now in danger, to help him survive.

Review: As Jason Bourne, Matt Damon has given audiences a critically acclaimed trilogy of action films. Now without him, screenwriter Tony Gilroy proceeds to bring a new hero in the same vein of Jason Bourne and let him run with it. As far as starting points go, The Bourne Legacy is on the mark.

Gilroy brings the same sense of realism in the original films to this film, as we find ourselves completely invested in the character of Aaron Cross and his path to survival, as well as his efforts to protect Marta Shearing from being killed by her employers. Unlike Bourne, Cross is someone who doesn't have amnesia. While Bourne is trying to figure out who he is and stay off the radar, Cross just wants to live another day while figuring out a way to wean himself off the medication the program has been feeding him, which is where Marta comes in.

The action sequences are well choreographed and shot, thanks to superb work by stunt coordinator Dan Bradley. We get quick fist fights, shootouts and a nerve wrecking chase sequence in Manila on foot and then on motorcycle. It certainly doesn't hurt that they shot on location in Manila as the busy city is the perfect backdrop for the sequence.

Of the cast, Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz make a splendid team on screen. Renner excels in the action department as well as the acting department, giving his Aaron Cross a balance of vulnerability and humour, thereby making him very likable. Weisz, who looked like she hasn't aged a day, is very believable as Marta, coming off as confused and ultimately fearful of her life when bullets start whizzing in her direction. Her chemistry with Renner is one of the best things about this film. Edward Norton is also perfect in the role of Eric Byer, whose character is similar to David Strathairn in the original. Norton doesn't play him as an evil person, but as someone who believes he's doing the right thing for the sake of his country. Oscar Isaac makes a brief but memorable appearance as a fellow Outcome agent who meets Cross in the first third of the film.

The film though doesn't really get going until Cross arrives to rescue Marta from being killed, which is close to the half mark of the story. The film tends to slow down every now and then when Byer and his team attempt to locate Cross. And I also have to mention the rather abrupt ending which is a bummer since at that point, you'd wish for a proper finale. But it's very likely that this is to make way for future instalments, and for that I wouldn't complain too much.

Other than a few minor blemishes, The Bourne Legacy is a solid addition to the series. Hopefully the rumours of Damon making an appearance in the future are true, though Renner is pretty darn good on his own. (3.5/5)

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