Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Bourne Legacy Review

Directed by Tony Gilroy and starring Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton, The Bourne Legacy follows the story of Aaron Cross (Renner) a new CIA agent whose stakes have been triggered by the repercussions of Jason Bourne's actions.

 Highly acclaimed as one of the best trilogies of all time, The Bourne series has provided it's own unique stamp on the action genre, with a more realistic, gritty take on spy-espionage. Together, Damon and Paul Greengrass (Director of Supremacy and Ultimatum) became an unstoppable team, adapting Robert Ludlums last two novels into not only box-office sensations but also film's worthy of the critic's 'good books'. Which is why it came as a surprise to see that a forth instalment was on it's way, spoiling the trilogy. Milking the cash cow or continuing the franchises highly credited legacy? Which ever way this film is perceived, it certainly had a mountain to climb, attempting to match the standards of the blockbuster behemoth, The Bourne Ultimatum. Yet while this film doesn't quite match  the success of it's predecessor's, it's still a fairly enjoyable action film.

 A complex story-line filled with plenty of sub-plots and complicated blueprints, has become something to be expected of from the Bourne series, and this film very much follows in the trend. Continuing a sub-plot left intelligently unexplored from The Bourne Identity. Delving deep into the story behind the science, theories and manufacture of the futuristic pills, giving the user enhanced abilities. A sub-plot which should have been left in a shroud of mystery. Frequently stumbling over itself, this subject matter proves to over-complicate the film, providing for a total mess of a story, which will require a lot of brain power to decipher. The film relies too heavily on it's predecessors to carry the story, the constant mentions of 'Jason Bourne' throughout the film, quickly became boring, as the audience attempted to close the door on that separate 'saga' yet the film refusing to let it go. This coincidentally, leads to the inevitable reliance on the hope that every audience member have not only seen the three previous films, but fairly deeply analysed them .The intention to create an original story is clearly there, however this inadvertently leads to  plot overload, with simply too many idea's being inserted into the film. These plots can be pieced together if your knowledge of the series is fresh, and your in the mood to heavily concentrate on the political, scientific 'gobeldigook' that is being discussed in front of your eyes. Almost as if each page of the plot had been ripped out and carelessly hurled over the table, jumbling the story completely, leaving the audience to 'put the pieces back together again'.

 The ham-handed plot, is also frequently hindered by the overly-complicated dialogue. Audience members are expected to have studied the scientific theorems behind muscular and neurological enhancement. Yet these sub-plots don't actually go anywhere most are simply forgotten about. However the cog's are still turning in our brains as we, the audience, attempt to decode the previous, pointless section of preposterous dialogue ;detracting us from the story unveiling in front of us, making way for further bewilderment. However if this thick layer of nonsense is peeled back, underneath (despite it's linear properties) is really quite a simple story-line that can be followed with ease. In an attempt to make this film scientifically, and politically accurate they have totally confused themselves.

  For a film which poses very much as a blockbuster action film, the action is really quite scarce. Seeing nothing in terms of hand-to-hand combat, or spectacular gunfight's until a good hour into the film. Although the action maybe lacking, The Bourne Legacy proves to be as good as it's predecessors in the action department, providing some excellent scenes of suspense. Contrary to many action films, this film nailed the pacing of the fight scenes perfectly, technique and injury was visible, allowing the audience to share in the pain of the victim. The most poignant of action scenes appears towards the end, in the form of a motorbike chase sequence which is visually stunning despite it's unnecessary length.

 Filling the shoes of the intelligent, yet physically daunting presence of Matt Damon, was never going to be easy. Yet I believe that Jeremy Renner did the best job possible, matching the physical finesse of Damon in the action sequences, even if he wasn't as convincing on the intelligent CIA agent aspect. Although Rachel Weisz's character may do nothing in terms of the story, not even in terms of possible love interest, she still provides a good performance. Edward Norton was also very good, however I never really felt the power of his government force, never being quite as desperate as they needed to be.

Overall due to incoherent story-telling and inconsistent sub-plot's, The Bourne Legacy proves to be the most petty of the series. From the slow pacing problem of the first hour, to the anti-climactic abrupt ending, this film may disappoint the avid fan.

50%- The scenes of action should keep you stimulated, but the heavy-handed story-telling may produce a yawn.

Calum Russell

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