Special to South Florida
The Bourne Legacy, the latest film to exploit the role made famous by Matt Damon, introduces an updated “Jason Bourne” named Aaron Cross, played by Jeremy Renner.
This “Bourne” escapes from the CIA, which is trying to cover its tracks after the fallout from the Treadstone/Blackbriar debacle unearthed by Pam Landy (Joan Allen).
For those who haven’t seen the previous films, a quick recap of the Bourne trilogy: In the first film, The Bourne Identity, we meet Bourne (played by Damon), an amnesiac CIA assassin who eludes the agency at every turn. Then in The Bourne Supremacy Jason goes on a mission to find out why the CIA killed his woman Marie (Franka Potente). Lastly in The Bourne Ultimatum Jason attempts to suppress the people who made him the assassin he is, namely the CIA.
In each film there’s a beginning, middle, and an end that subtly sets itself up for a sequel. Despite my initial misgivings about the Bourne films (I gave them bad reviews), on second inspection it’s evident that the films are smart and engaging, if a little formulaic. Though the series should have ended with Ultimatum, expectations were high for Legacy.
But Legacy’s plot is sketchy at best, with little coherence or continuity. Screenwriting brothers Tony and Dan Gilroy try to recapture the flavor of Identity, inject some heart and simultaneously keep true to the central plot.
Unfortunately, Tony (who wrote the previous three Bourne films) and his brother do not achieve that outcome. The Bourne formula is there, but not the substance.
Mix a dangerous assassin, a brassy brunette and multiple car-chase scenes, add a dash of fast-talking CIA personnel with quick-typing fingers and access to cameras the world over, and you have a Bourne film, a formula repeated with positive results.
But along with a new “Bourne” and a brassier brunette – another thing Legacy doesn’t have in common with its predecessors is a decent ending. The Gilroys take their assassin and their audience around the world only to end, literally and figuratively, in the middle of nowhere. There’s so much buildup in the story that a good ending is expected — nay, required. So the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it ending is a huge letdown.
Kudos to Gilroy and Gilroy for bringing us a more engaging Bourne. With Damon declining to participate in the latest in the Bourne franchise, Gilroy and Gilroy had to scramble to continue the brand. They came up with Aaron Cross and Renner, who saves the film from its ending by being a fun hero and a great actor. Renner as Cross is fun, funny and flirty. He’s the charming “Bourne” that women can really fall in love with, versus Damon’s reserved, brooding Bourne.
BETTER NEXT TIME?
Likewise, Rachel Weisz as Marta Shearing is bolder and has more guts than Marie. She saves the day at the end, injecting more girl power into the male-fueled franchise. But Weisz and Renner have no chemistry, so it will be interesting to see if she will be back for the next installment.
Speaking of which, given the lack of good material in Legacy, expectations are low for the sequel. Renner’s charming “Bourne” can’t carry the next film by himself — he barely carries this one. The Gilroys’ paper-thin ending doesn’t help. It’s as if they’ve cheated their audiences.
Go to see Legacy for a more fleshed out “Bourne” — I mean, Cross. But don’t go looking for a fleshed out story; you’ll never find it.
Photo courtesy of collider.com