The Bourne Legacy
Posted by martinteller on August 23, 2012
At my workplace, it was suggested that we have a team outing. I generally try to avoid these things. I like my co-workers, but when the day is over, I want to go home. But this time the suggestion was a movie. Problem was, the movie in question was The Dark Knight Rises. I liked Nolan’s first two Batfilms well enough, but I’d rather catch up with it on DVD, where I don’t have to park my butt in an uncomfortable theater seat (and they’re always uncomfortable to me, even in the high-end theaters) for roughly three hours with no pause button. I lobbied for The Bourne Legacy instead, and I was happy when the crew seemed to go for the idea. Now I’m wondering if I’ve pissed off my co-workers, since no one seemed to particularly enjoy this.
As everyone probably knows by now, Jason Bourne (i.e., Matt Damon) appears in name only. Instead the film focuses on Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), an agent in some sort of wilderness training. Something or other goes awry back at HQ, which makes Edward Norton and Stacy Keach exchange a lot of gibberish jargon and then kill off all their field agents. Except (of course) Cross manages to escape. Meanwhile, he’s running low on his super-secret performance-enhancing drugs, without which he loses his physical and — perhaps more importantly — mental edge. It’s literally a race against stupid as he tries to track down the doctor (Rachel Weisz) who can hook him up with those sweet, sweet brain pills.
The above might be considered a spoiler, since it takes a mighty loooong time before we really know what’s going on. And even then it’s kinda fuzzy. And it’s all so dreadfully uneventful with no sense of stakes. We’re given only the barest of backstory on Cross — like everything else, it comes in dribs and drabs late in the game, after you’ve stopped caring – and little connection to the character. We never see any damaging effects from not taking the pills (which would have been neat, to slowly see Renner devolve into bumbling idiot) so the audience doesn’t get a feel for why they’re so important. It’s mostly just a lot of uninteresting conversations (am I supposed to remember what “Blackbriar” or “Treadstone” means from previous movies or something? because I don’t) with unmotivated 360 camera spins, occasionally interrupted by bursts of confusing, blurry whip-cam action. The climax is a chase scene that goes on forever, with an antagonist who means absolutely nothing to the audience.
It’s not all bad. Even with a wafer-thin character, Renner has a compelling onscreen presence, and Weisz manages to sidestep what might have been a clichéd portrayal. One of the joys of the spy genre is watching our hero do something clever, and there are a few clever moments indeed. But it’s so difficult to care about the action, the motivations, or the outcome that most of it feels really meh. Sorry, fellow employees. Maybe three hours of Batman would have been more fun after all. Rating: Poor (47)