The Bourne Legacy – Renner could totally kick Damon’s ass

I feel like this blog is turning into a Jeremy Renner Tumblr or something, but who cares; the man is ace. And he’s finally got the leading man role that he deserves in The Bourne Legacy.

This isn’t a sequel or a prequel but (made-up word time) a ‘sidequel’. It happens alongside events in The Bourne Ultimatum, when Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is still trying to uncover the secrets of the organisation that created him. Here though the focus is on agent-in-training Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), who is part of a similar agency. During his training the whole of the company becomes disavowed owing to show shady goings-on at the top and Aaron finds himself on the run from the people he works for. On the way he finds Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) who is the only person he feels he can trust – Aaron’s body is relying on regular ‘chems’ which have nearly all gone, and he needs her help to keep him alive…

The Bourne Legacy feels a lot like a start-up film for a brand new franchise, which I’m sure is what Universal are trying to do. And in part it works. It does feel like it’s own standalone film, with the premise of the other Bourne films merely acting as a distracting side plot. However, it doesn’t really get going and to the heart of the action until Aaron meets Marta, which is a good hefty way into the film. It’s very confusing at times (if I’m honest I did Google the synopsis to write this coz I just couldn’t remember what the frack was going on, even though I’ve seen it twice now), and hard to follow. It is an interesting premise, with the chems and creating these almost superhuman beings, but it seems like more questions are left unanswered throughout (almost certainly to be answered in a sequel). However, as soon as Renner does get to kick some ass, it becomes much more exciting, and like the old Bourne films again.

Renner is reliable and likeable as Aaron. He also brings the emotional gravitas to scenes when it’s needed. And you can see that he does a lot of the stunts himself which adds an extra layer of realism to proceedings (similar to what Damon did in the first trilogy). Rachel Weisz is good as the kindly doc who helps him, but does seem to spend the entire film as a helpless damsel-in-distress (there are a few times where she stops crying and actually stands up for herself, but most of the time she needs a tissue). Edward Norton is also good as Eric Byer, a retired Colonel overseeing the operation to put an end to the agency, but it feels like a lot of his scenes have been left on the cutting room floor and that he needs more of a backstory. And the original cast (Joan Allen, David Strathairn, Albert Finney) really do seem like their scenes here are just extras that weren’t used in the original trilogy – they may as well not have even been given a poster credit. They feel unneeded and another way in which to tie this film to the Bourne franchise, when it feels very much like its own beast.

The ending of the film also seems odd. Obviously it ends with an incredible fight scene. However when it does end, I was expecting it to go on for another half an hour and it just…stopped. It feels very much like there might be an alternate ending out there that ended proceedings in a more final way, but that this one was used to keep options open for a sequel.

So, although there are some amazing action set-pieces in which Renner truly shows he is the star, the film overall can be disappointing at times. Yes, the fights are great, Renner is incredible and emotionally affecting when he needs to be, but it has a boring first act and a garbled plot. Saying that though I did enjoy it a lot more the second time I saw it – so maybe then I was worrying less about where the film was heading and just enjoyed the action a lot more? I still feel that director Tony Gilroy was very much holding back here and is saving the best for the next film, so whoever directs it can jump straight into proceedings without laying out all the backstory of Aaron first. So maybe the sequel will have much more to offer us. And (as I’m sure the whole world is also thinking) I’m fingers crossed that Mr Damon and Mr Renner will BOTH make an appearance in the next one. Hopefully. Maybe not. But hey, I can dream, can’t I?

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~ by square-eyed-geek on September 20, 2012.

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