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I've got some mixed feelings about The Bourne Legacy. There was actually a lot that I liked about it. But there were certain choices that were made in the movie that I feel made it weaker, and I'm not really sure why they were done.

The non-spoiler summary:

Generally, it was a fun Bourne-style action movie. There was some suspense, interesting and wonderfully grimy settings, lots of improvised weapons. There were chase scenes where, as usual, I had absolutely no clue what the hell was going on, but I thought maybe we were winning. It was a fun way to spend my evening, though I don't know if my opinion would be the same if I'd gone in cold.

Jeremy Renner was likeable, Rachel Weisz was actually really interesting, and Edward Norton was a standard amoral government guy in a suit. There were a lot of missed plot opportunities that could have gone for some great character development and raised Renner's character Aaron Cross toward the level of Jason Bourne. I think instead, those opportunities got blown on making the chase scenes just a little more incoherent and shaky.

I don't feel like I wasted my time at the movie, and if there's a sequel (and I'm sure there will be) I'll definitely go see it. But I hope next time they give us more. The original Bourne movies really raised the bar on spy-fi in a lot of ways - internal drama to go with all the action, for one - and I'd like to see that legacy continue in truth.

THE WHOLE ENCHILADA WITH SPOILERS BELOW:

To begin with, there was the entire choice of making the events of the movie basically concurrent with The Bourne Ultimatum. I haven't had a chance to watch that movie in a while, but I remembered enough that I at least knew who Pamela Landy was and why a bunch of older white guys in suits were saying "My god," in deep, serious tones. I really don't know what the experience would have been like for someone who hadn't seen the original Bourne trilogy.

And of course, they kept bringing up Jason Bourne. The serious white guys in suits mention him constantly. Aaron sees his name carved in the bunk bed at the way house he stays at. We see a photo of him flashed during a newscast. But it feels like a plot point that never delivers because not once in the movie do we actually see Jason Bourne. Aaron doesn't meet him, or really seem to have any kind of attachment to him as anything but a name. This makes Bourne feel like something that got added in at the last moment as a way to keep his name in the title. He becomes the movie's Godot, where he never shows up even as he provides the necessary fig leaf to explain why the characters are talking. Though at least he never triggers a serious discussion about suicide being better than waiting any longer.

I understand if they couldn't get Matt Damon. But I think if they wanted to keep the connection between the original three movies and this one, they needed to find a better way to connect the character of Jason Bourne to the new guy, Aaron Cross. Maybe they met once in the back story. Maybe Bourne is a legend in the program and his defection has a real psychological effect on its last living lab rat. Maybe Aaron could have found out more about Bourne and taken some kind of direction or inspiration from the way that he went rogue and remade himself. (Actually, I think that would have been really interesting...)

Then there's the issue of LARX-3. He has no name other than that. He also, to the best of my memory, has no dialog, and only two facial expressions - cold and grrrrr. He also feels like an afterthought to the plot - an oh shit we're in the third act and the boss fight music just cued up, send in the plot device! Part of what made the original Bourne movies so interesting was that anyone significant Jason Bourne faced had at least some kind of internal life - which made his killing them more meaningful, both to the audience and to him as a character. The way the end battle with LARX-3 played out, it was really like Aaron versus the drone part two. It was another missed opportunity, I think. Even if the point of LARX-3 was that he's a human with the humanity removed, that would have been great food for thought for Aaron had he known, I would think. Hey dude, that's the new model, see where we're going with this?

I really loathed what they did with the wolves while Aaron was up in Alaska. I'll just say here that I am anti-shooting and blowing up wolves, even if it's in movies. And the way the wolves were acting made absolutely no sense anyway, which just makes it a bit more annoying.

Otherwise I found the movie pretty enjoyable, though inferior to the original Bourne trilogy. Aaron Cross was a likable character, though he lacks what made Jason Bourne so interesting. Bourne's character development was really about him figuring out who and what he was, wrestling with the sins of his past, and then deciding to remake himself. Aaron's struggle is never really that visceral. While he mentions several times that he's done bad things (and thus they seem to bother him) he obviously kept going with the program and doesn't seem to struggle with it all that much.

His real motivation is to keep his enhanced mental capabilities because he doesn't want to regress to being an idiot, and it sounds like that regression process is really horrible. That's something that is sympathetic, but it lacks the punch of the "who was I? who will I be?" that we learned to expect from the Jason Bourne movies. There were a few tantalizing lines thrown in there - maybe predators don't think Aaron is human any more - but that incredibly interesting question never really seems to cross his mind.

I was actually far more interested in Dr Marta Shearing, the character played by Rachel Weisz. She does go through a really good character arc, where she starts out as someone who was "just doing science" without any real thought to the ethics, and has that come home to roost. She does struggle with that, and grows. Unlike Aaron, I think she comes to accept responsibility for her involvement, realizing how pathetic her own sacrifices (I didn't get to go to conferences! I couldn't talk to people about my work!) really were in light of the much larger, darker picture.

You weren't bad, Bourne Ultimatum. But I want more. Give me more. I expect better of you.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
ryversong
Aug. 14th, 2012 09:05 pm (UTC)
I'm going to go see it, but mostly because I have a giant raging thing for Jeremy Renner.
katsudon
Aug. 15th, 2012 01:18 am (UTC)
I think you should see it. It was good. I just think it could have been better.

Not quite living up to the standard of the other Bourne movies still makes it a darn good watch. XD
ryversong
Aug. 15th, 2012 10:23 pm (UTC)
I suppose that it's some sort of blasphemy to tell you that I didn't hate the Bourne movies, but I stopped caring about them to the point that I still have seen the third one? *laughs* I own all three, so I'll probably watch them this weekend. Seriously. Jeremy Renner. Cause giant, raging nerd-gasm.
katsudon
Aug. 16th, 2012 01:46 am (UTC)
Well, I didn't really like the second one all that much. Too much shaky cam for me, to the point that I found it almost unwatchable. The third one was way better, I think.
dogmatix_san
Aug. 15th, 2012 04:22 am (UTC)
I loved it. XD Mind you, I totally agree with everything you said, but I think the shiny outweighs the weaker points for me, since it hits quite a few of my buttons. XD;;;

I think they're aiming for a sequel, and we'll probably get to see Jason Bourne then. I also love Dr. Shearing, and I started kinda lukewarm on her, but by the end I was definitely cheering her on. XD You're right, she does grow and change during the movie, and I love that it's a believable progression, and that her bad-assery comes off as her doing the best she can under pressure rather than a cliche and-she-knew-martial-arts-and-can-slow-down-time type of thing.

I only really remember the first Bourne movie, and yeah it was awesome and kickass, but what I remember of the sequels doesn't impress me terribly, although it's been a while since I saw them. So I did know enough to follow the whole thing with Landry, but honestly I'm happy that Jason didn't show up here, because he would have stolen Aaron's thunder, I suspect. With him being only present by his absence, it's a lead-in/connection without being overwhelming.

I did pick up on the 'maybe they don't consider you human' thing, which made me perk, and I am so hoping it sparks a good fanfic somewhere, especially since he's now permanently infected with both viruses, and who knows what that's going to do to him. (And also my Prototype plunnies are kind of sidling up to it with their whole 'sentient virus' thing. As they do.)

I did disapprove of the wolf thing, because really? But at least it was obviously CG and 'puppy-playing-with-growls-overlaid'
katsudon
Aug. 15th, 2012 04:58 am (UTC)
Yeah, I think the good outweighed the bad, I just want MORE out of that movie because the other Bourne movies set the bar SO HIGH. But I definitely don't regret seeing it in the theater and I'll watch it again at some point I think.
jupiterjones
Aug. 16th, 2012 05:02 am (UTC)
i was amazed that it didn't tank. ^_^ Spoilery warnings
If you're waiting to see Jason Bourne embodied by Matt Damon, you can forget it. Damon refused the script because his director wasn't asked to direct.

The shaky cam action thing makes more sense if you realize that the woman who directed it directed The Hurt Locker.

This movie was meant as an 'in the style of' the Bourne movies. To their credit, they brought in some of the older Bourne's into it for continuity.


(Spoilery like things following)

Also, the character that Renner played as well as the others that were of the same type was excellently explained (for a movie) as being from a totally different program than Jason Bourne. The Legacy part of the movie was the explanation that Bourne being an enhanced human was not only a part of the picture. There were several different programs with different people and plans for many more.

Honestly, I was quite amazed at how much plot exposition there was. This definitely had FRANCHISE written all over it, but it didn't bother me. I really only went to see Jeremy Renner. I was worth the bucks to see that the show didn't blow rocks.

As far as the wolf went, I was surprised again at the restraint. Others would have 3D all kinds of spatter at the audience. Also, Cross did seem remorseful.

katsudon
Aug. 16th, 2012 05:25 am (UTC)
Yeah, I heard he refused to get in to it, so I'm figuring we won't be seeing him again. They were clear Cross was from a different program, but they were still trying to keep Bourne in there without him being present.

Honestly, without Jason Bourne in it, I think they really would have been better off not trying to tie it in so tightly with The Bourne Ultimatum. I know that really confused some people who hadn't seen that movie and were just in it for Jeremy Renner.
sidneablackston
Aug. 19th, 2012 12:46 am (UTC)
I agree about the animals, but...
To a man that kills for his country and just, I assume, a few months or weeks earlier had his existence reduced down to being the eater of moral shit an oddly aggressive wolf is fair game. He takes human lives...Why should a wild animal be beyond his scope.

I think what the other guy at the cabin was getting at the fact that Aaron was putting off animal vibes that caused the wolves to react in such a primal manner. He came off as an alpha and the true alpha wolf is bound to act aggressively toward a possible threat to his dominance.

I agree that Jason Bourne seemed to be a post-it-note they stuck here and there to make sure we remembered that we were watching the third Bourne movie. They could have done the Bourne montage above the credits and then let us see what this movie had to offer.

I actually like Aaron better than Jason because he is a much more believable character. Yes, he is conflicted by what they do as is evidenced in his scenes with Byer and Dr. Shearing, but it is a very human reaction to stay even though you know something is wrong. How many of us would stop doing things we know is wrong when faced with a loss as great as Aaron's chemically enhanced intellect?

Also, what real choice did Aaron have he knows he is in it for the long hall...That was probably point one in the Outcome orientation. They were not allowed to make connections or even love anyone.

Over all...I like the film and enjoyed your review.

I wish they had taken more time to establish who Aaron was before Outcome and then let go of Bourne long enough to make the story about Aaron and Marta's struggle.

I felt getting to the virus was too easy and it should have been the pentacle of the movie instead of a side note. Getting to it should have been a lot more work.

katsudon
Aug. 19th, 2012 12:51 am (UTC)
Re: I agree about the animals, but...
It's mostly just that the way the wolves were behaving didn't make a whole lot of sense to begin with. If they were trying to drive him off their territory, fine, but it didn't make a whole lot of sense for them to follow him all the way to the cabin. Their territories aren't that big.

I did like the film overall. I mean, if I'm saying it (in my opinion) isn't quite up to par with the Bourne movies still makes it vastly superior to every other spy-fi out there with the possible exception of Safe House.
sidneablackston
Aug. 19th, 2012 01:04 am (UTC)
Re: I agree about the animals, but...
I had the odd thought during that scene at the table when they discuss the wolves. Wonder if the experiments did not only include humans? What if scientists were using the wolves in the area in experiments, too.

The guys had freakish hearing maybe even hearing that was beyond the normal human range. This little throw away scene is quite a tasty morsel for thought.

What was your take on that scene?

katsudon
Aug. 19th, 2012 01:33 am (UTC)
Re: I agree about the animals, but...
I didn't really get that vibe out of it. It mostly felt like something they were thinking of making a plot point (the Aaron not being so human any more thing) and then maybe cut for time...
sidneablackston
Aug. 19th, 2012 01:41 am (UTC)
Re: I agree about the animals, but...
I wish they had stuck with it; I like the interesting direction that would have taken the movie.

They spent so much time giving Matt Damon's character the old puff and ruffle that they stilted the movie's plot and characters.

Thank you for the insights...
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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