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  • 12A
  • Action, Thriller
  • 2012

The Bourne Legacy

Film4 The Bourne Legacy

Synopsis

Tony Gilroy, architect of the orginal Bourne trilogy, directs this flawed attempt to capitalise on the franchise's legacy

Critic's Review

"No more." These two words, seen inked onto a mirror near the end of The Bourne Legacy, neatly summarise the problem facing Tony Gilroy's franchise follow-up. "No more" is exactly what Matt Damon (who played rogue, amnesiac assassin Bourne) and director Paul Greengrass said after completing the previous 'thrill-ogy' of The Bourne Identity (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), calling it a day on the Noughties series which had viscerally dramatised America's identity crisis and loss of moral authority in a post-Cold War world. Yet "no more" is a principle that the Hollywood bean counters will never comprehend, and so the original trilogy's 'narrative architect' Tony Gilroy was called upon to get the story re-Bourne, and so, co-writing with his brother Dan, has cloned a new appendage to author Robert Ludlum's legacy.

The results can never quite escape their own unnecessariness. Bourne himself is a no-show, even if the events of the third film are unfolding in the background and some of its more prominent characters get brief, pointless cameos to link things spuriously to source. Now the focus is on Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), a chemically-enhanced special operative in Outcome, a secret programme parallel to the earlier films' Treadstone. As Eric Byer (Edward Norton), head of the shadowy National Research Assay Group, decides to terminate Outcome with extreme prejudice, Cross finds himself on the run and desperately trying to find the 'chems' that will keep him from regressing into the low-IQ grunt he once was. And so, helped by geneticist Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), he races against time and an even more advanced field operative (Louis Ozawa Changchien) to get his fix - in what seems like an overblown metaphor for the ideal viewer's addiction to chasing the Bourne dragon.

Cross reprises routines familiar from other films - The Grey's face-off with wolves, Terminator 2: Judgement Day's motorbike dash against a seemingly unstoppable automaton - yet despite an impressively physical performance from Renner and the odd breathtaking stunt, The Bourne Legacy is essentially a single, exhausting chase sequence stretched over two hours plus, with not enough characterisation or motivation to keep us interested for the duration. One can only hope that this is a one-off rather than the beginnings of a larger relaunch.

In a nutshell: Even with the original trilogy's writer at the helm, this relaunch, without Bourne to anchor it, feels lost at sea. Please, no more!

By Anton Bitel

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Rachel Weisz, Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton
  • Director: Tony Gilroy
  • Screen Writer: Dan Gilroy, Tony Gilroy

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