The Bourne Legacy
- Director:Tony Gilroy
- Cast:Edward Norton, Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz
- Release Date:August 16, 2012
- Running time:135 minutes
- Film Worth:$17.50
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Fast paced, tightly plotted and strongly performed, The Bourne Legacy is an inventive continuation of the groundbreaking Bourne series.
Providing irrefutable proof that the departure of a take-it-to-the-bank franchise’s lead actor and director doesn’t necessarily spell its death knell, The Bourne Legacy is ingenious, respectful, and near-seamless in its continuation of one of the finest action-espionage film series since James Bond first qualified for his license to kill. The Bourne Legacy’s blue ribbon quality and consistency of tone is undeniably the work of co-writer and director, Tony Gilroy. Though 2002’s ground-breaking The Bourne Identity was helmed and instigated by Doug Liman, and the even better The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) were directed by Paul Greengrass, the constant figure across the trilogy was Gilroy. Obviously aware of what makes this hard-slinging cinematic universe tick – as well as being the director of the polished, sophisticated 2007 drama, Michael Clayton – Tony Gilroy proves the right man to restart the Bourne franchise after what most thought would be its final installment when star, Matt Damon, and director, Paul Greengrass, announced their dual exits.
In a radical move, The Bourne Legacy begins at the climax of The Bourne Ultimatum, where Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne finally exposes the shadowy figures behind Blackbriar and Operation Treadstone, the secret military programmes that turned him from a simple soldier into a killing machine. Threatened with exposure and prosecution, the CIA and Defence Department’s ruthless puppeteers unrelentingly set about covering their tracks by “closing down” the other military programmes connected to those uncovered by Jason Bourne. At the heart of one of those programmes – Operation Outcome, which is the successor to Operation Treadstone – is operative, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), who, along with his fellow agents, is quickly marked for government-sanctioned extermination. Pursued by the steely-eyed Ret. Colonel Ric Byer (Edward Norton), the highly capable and utterly lethal Aaron Cross has only one ally in the form of Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), a morally conflicted scientist working on chemical methods to alter the behaviour of Operation Outcome’s operatives. Together, they struggle to survive in the face of the US military’s might and controlled malice.
Boasting the kind of deft dialogue and labyrinthine but never incoherent plotting that marked its three predecessors, The Bourne Legacy will – despite the absence of the series’ original leading man – ironically be best appreciated by the Bourne trilogy’s most ardent fans. Stylistically and thematically, it locks right into the look and feel of the previous three films, and is anything but a cheap or opportunistic cash-in, creatively stitching in narrative links that will thrill observant fans. The Bourne Legacy is a full scale continuation that acknowledges and plays into the strengths of the already established whirling cinematic machine of which it’s an exciting new cog. The performances of A-class actors, Renner, Norton and Weisz, are all rock-solid, while cameos from Bourne regulars, Scott Glenn, David Strathairn, Albert Finney, and Joan Allen, provide further connective tissue to what has gone before. Gilroy’s handling of the action sequences (including a terrifying showdown in an empty country mansion, and a bitumen-burning road bash through the steaming, fetid streets of Manila) is imaginative and exciting, and never comes at the expense of the establishment of character and motivation. Like its three predecessors, this is an action blockbuster with soul – with The Bourne Legacy, a hard-charging movie franchise is happily, gloriously alive.