Published Aug 09, 2012To be succinct, albeit somewhat glib, the title of this unnecessary modification on the Bourne formula would accurately have been preceded by, "Wiping our bottoms with…" Where the original trilogy, more so the latter Greengrass entries, featured gripping storylines and propulsive action anchored by consistent tension and duplicitous and intriguing characterizations, The Bourne Legacy slogs along at a lethargic pace, with infrequent and incoherent action, excess conveniences and an unnecessarily convoluted plot that has nothing new, thematically, to say.
Ostensibly, this forgettable thriller is a parable of both American ego and the dangers of embracing things too good to be true, following Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) on a quest for stabilizing drugs while the CIA seeks to eliminate all of their secret, genetically modified "Bourne" agents, including Cross. Fortunately stuck in the middle of nowhere when everything goes down, his evasion techniques are mirrored be the quotidian work-ups and lab work of his doctor, Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), whose safety is also at risk when a co-worker pulls a Columbine in the workplace.
Once they meet, and depending on each other for survival, the hope is that the clumsy, almost desultory handling of the initial story set-up will be replaced by cleverly staged action sequences and dubious character interactions. Unfortunately, they mostly dole out the driest of exposition and sneak around airports trying to evade security.
With stronger direction and less chaotically invasive cinematography, this more grounded, realist variation on the Bourne formula could have worked by slowly building tension and humanizing those deemed disposable by a government out of control. But Gilroy has little vision for this franchise revamp, aside from misinterpreting the hand-held aesthetic set up by Greengrass. The sole chase scene falls flat by featuring blurry footage and absolutely no contextualizing establishing shots, and his handling of character exchanges is indifferent at best, no matter how hard Weisz tries to class things up.
And with nothing to look at and nothing to think about, this denigration of the Bourne legacy actually manages to be boring. Worse is that the constant flashbacks and photographic mementoes of the previous films do little more than remind us of just how superior the original trilogy was. (Universal)