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Movie Review: THE BOURNE LEGACY - Guest Post

Sunday, 16 September 2012

From the opening sequences of Calgary Alberta’s snow-swept mountain ranges to later panoramic shots of the Philippines crystal blue waters, director Tony Gilroy holds nothing back in presenting us with an absolute visual feast as we are taken along through his masterful, quasi-adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s novel of the same name.

Joining the cast this time around and no stranger to the action genre is Jeremy Renner, taking on the role of Aaron Cross. This is Renner at his absolute best. Nothing is overdone as he artfully portrays what could otherwise be the stereotypical top-secret government spy role. Renner is joined by Rachel Weisz who plays Dr. Marta Shearing. Weisz does her best to encapture the emotion of Shearing, who’s whole world is turned inside-out as she is thrown into a deadly brew of government cover-up and espionage, but ultimately falls short to Renner. Weisz seems to get lost in her portrayal of concern and distress. Instead of evoking a sense of empathy, she often appears remedial and repetitive and her features only shift slightly in her plight to escape the films antagonist, Eric Byer played by Edward Norton. Norton does a remarkable job with what is given to him. Instead of being an archetype to the villain role, Norton is able to emulate a man who is without grudge and simply tasked with doing his job for the CIA.

The Bourne Legacy starts with Aaron Cross, agent number 5, making his way across craggy mountainscapes on a training mission to rendezvous with another fellow Outcome (this film’s Treadstone) agent, Number 3, played by Oscar Isaac. However, things go wrong when Byer initiates the termination of all Outcome agents as to quell a potential high-level government foible. A drone is dispatched to eliminate both Cross and Number 3 and through auspicious chance, Cross is able to escape. Gilroy handles this and the rest of the movies action sequences adeptly. Explosions aren’t overplayed and the chase scenes (one in particular clocking in just at 20 minutes) aren’t derivative or tacky.

Meanwhile Eric Byer works with a team of CIA agents as they attempt eliminate Cross who has come to the rescue of Shearing, another casualty of the Outcome cover-up. From here, and just as with the other entries into the series, the film takes us abroad. To the surfeited neon streets of the ritzy Gangnam suburb of Seoul to the impoverished alley-ways of Manilla, Gilroy makes the newest entry into the franchise feel right at home amongst its globe-trotting predecessors. The same grittiness of Gilroy’s Michael Clayton is present here and Renner does an amazing job at conveying that there is always something more complex and serious going on underneath the iconic intensity he brings to all of his roles.

Legacy does not hold anything back in its action. Throughout the film’s numerous fight sequences, Gilroy skillfully manages to hold his audience’s suspension of disbelief. Whether Cross is bounding over the steel roofs of Manila in pursuit of the ever-distressed Shearing or performing the most complex set of martial arts maneuver s you’ve ever seen, we are right there with him, cheering him on. The science behind Outcome’s genetic meddling is just credible enough for us to not question whichever wildly, teetering on over-the-top, direction Cross and Shearing careen into next.

One can’t help but wonder how many more films can arise from this franchise without the presence of, well…Bourne. Regardless, Bourne or no Bourne the latest edition into the franchise achieves just what it set out to do. Deliver an intelligent, sharp and thought-out action film. It seems that in stepping out of his writing shoes Tony Gilroy has found the perfect fit in directing and if his first stroll in the Bourne franchise is any litmus test, he’ll be wearing them for quite a while.

Zack Mandell is a movie enthusiast, writer of movie reviews, and owner of which has great information on actors such as Jeremy Renner. He writes extensively about the movie industry for sites such as Gossip Center, Yahoo, NowPublic, and Helium.
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