How Many of Us Are There?
Today’s movie had arrived in theaters without me even knowing it, which is really strange because it’s the fourth movie in a series that I’ve loved so far. I’m not entirely sure why I wasn’t paying attention. It could have been because they changed the main actor, but I doubt it because I like the new actor just as much as I like the old one. It could have also been because the movie didn’t look that good, but it’s probably not that because nothing that I had seen made me doubt it could live up to the other movies. It also could have been that the movie looked like they were just trying to grab some more cash from the movie series. I don’t really have a counter point to that one. But, when I realized that the movie had been released, I set my sights on checking it out as soon as I could. And that brings us up to speed and I can review the Bourne Legacy, based on a novel by Eric Van Lustbader, based on characters created by Robert Ludlum, written by Dan Gilroy, co-written and directed by Tony Gilroy, and starring Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach, Joan Allen, David Strathairn, Albert Finney, Scott Glenn, Zeljko Ivanek, and Louis Ozawa Changchien.
Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is traversing an obstacle course through Alaska as a test of the effectiveness of Operation Outcome, a secret government operation to use chemicals to help the human body reach its physical and mental peak. He eventually reaches a cabin to meet his contact, another Operation Outcome agent called Number Three (Oscar Isaac). The fact that Operation Blackbriar and Treadstone were exposed by Jason Bourne in the previous movie leads to CIA operative Eric Byer (Edward Norton) to wise up for a few minutes and realize that these tests are not working out for the government, so he decides to scrap this version of the project and kill Aaron and everyone in the facility that provides the chemicals for them, including Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), but she survives. Aaron does as well, so he’s going to have to go and punch some faces to teach the government a lesson. But the government will probably strike back with their other projects that they are completely confident will never turn against them like the other two.
This movie disappointed me with how thoroughly okay they were. It wasn’t a bad movie, but the other three movies set a high bar for this movie and it never managed to reach that level. I found myself starting to get annoyed that our government is apparently smart enough to develop these programs to make these super soldiers, but not smart enough to realize that it’s not working in their favor. This is the fourth movie that should teach them that this is going to blow up in their face, but they’re all going to get the idea in their head that the others failed, but this time will be different. I like to believe that the government would move on if the Manhattan Project blew up in their faces four times, killing everyone involved and making them look bad publically each time, but maybe that’s just me. It felt in the early parts of the movie as if I should have gotten a discount because they seemed to delight in using scenes from the previous movies. I understand tying the movies together, but at a certain point I just start thinking I would’ve been better off staying at home and watching the DVD’s that I already own. But they slowed down with that soon enough in the movie that I wasn’t that annoyed. I was a little annoyed by the ending, but mainly just because it was kind of quick and pretty lackluster, like they just ran out of steam and just slapped “The End” on it.
One of my favorite parts of the previous Bourne movies is the fact that their solid story was backed up by some badass action. They decided that this movie needed to be too much subpar story and we could leave the action by the wayside for the bulk of the movie. The first decent fight of the movie was an hour and a half in! The bulk of the first part of the movie is people talking and reaching the conclusion that they should wipe out the project mixed in with scenes of Aaron Cross walking through snow. You know what I don’t come to my Bourne movies to watch? 20 minutes of a psychologist session with Rachel Weisz talking about how she feels about Zeljko Ivanek shooting her coworkers. Just after that is when they realize that the Bourne movies are supposed to be action flicks. It was a good bit of fighting though and I was dying for it to happen by this point, even though it left me thoroughly confused about how a guy died from getting a table kicked into his head. Unconscious, sure. But dead? That should take something more like a drill bit being fired out of a fire extinguisher. There are one or two more good fights in the movie, but the action was spread out way too far for my taste and left me disappointed in the movie overall. There was a spectacular motorcycle crash near the end of the movie that came out of nowhere and surprised the hell out of me, but it also annoyed me because I felt like it robbed us from a good fist fight that needed to happen. The part where Aaron grinds the motorcycle down the handrail that you can see in the trailers was pretty sweet though.
I even took issues with the performances, even though they got a lot of great people that I really like to be in the movie. I guess it’d be more accurate to say that I took issue with the characters because the performances themselves were solid. Jeremy Renner is a great actor, and when I saw that he was taking the reins from Matt Damon I decided it was an acceptable substitution, but I didn’t really like this character or how it was portrayed. Jason Bourne was a cool and collected badass; Aaron Cross is a pill addict who talks too much. But Renner did a good job with the action, and he also played his less interesting character well. Rachel Weisz did have to bust out the acting chops a little more often, like in the scene where we’re watching her debriefing with the psychologist, but I was too busy being angry that I was having to watch that scene to pay attention to how well she pulled it off. She mainly had to be scared and run around as her performance, and she did it well. I was a little confused about why her character lived in a haunted house, but it apparently wasn’t important. And the ghosts never showed up. Also the house was just old and looked haunted. Edward Norton was in the movie, but surprised me by never really doing anything to make me pay attention to him. That’s not usually his MO.
If the Bourne Legacy had a different title, I probably would have liked it more. I would have definitely thought that it was a Bourne rip off, but it wouldn’t have had to live up to its predecessors and fall short. The story was fairly typical for the Bourne series, full of stuff that shows us how untrustworthy and stupid our government is, but the action could not elevate this movie as it was able to in the previous movies because there just wasn’t enough of it. The movie winds up being okay, but probably not good enough to inspire seeing it in theaters. Good enough for a rental when it comes out though. The Bourne Legacy gets “I wanna stop thinking” out of “I’ll get my bag.”
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