February 9, 2013

Stub Hubby At Home: The Bourne Legacy

After three Matt Damon-starred Bourne movies, the franchise has evolved into something new, at the hands of the series screenwriter Tony Gilroy.
Part reboot, part reimagining, and no Matt Damon, The Bourne Legacy is a million-dollar retcon of the Bourne backstory.

It's not a leap to imagine that Bourne was not the only super-spy the CIA spooks were cooking in their labs. We've encountered a parade of dead-eyed killing machines over the course of the trilogy: the Paris guy who pulls a pen out of his hand, then throws himself out a window; that German guy in the IKEA condo that Bourne attacks with a magazine; and most memorably, relentless Karl Urban (he'll always be Eomer to me.)

TBL's protagonist is another Bourne - style super - assassin: skeptical killer Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) seems to be troubled as much by his permanent servitude as he is by the immorality of his work. Unfortunately for Cross, Jason Bourne has already gone rogue and ruined the party for everyone else. Cross comes to grips with his moral dilemma at the exact moment that Edward Norton has been charged with burning the whole program to the ground.
Cross goes on the run, and much like Matt Damon & Franka Potente, he forms a fragile alliance with Marta (Rachel Weisz), a doctor from the shady biotech agency that designed and maintains the viral gene therapy that makes the superspies so super.

The events of Bourne Legacy take place concurrently with the previous Bourne film (The Bourne Ultimatum); much effort is made to stitch together the events in the two movies. I wondered if the cast of TBU were paid again when their scenes were re-used in TBL? I think only two or three actors were brought back from TBU to help patch some narrative holes in TBL.

The action sequences feel very familiar to the Bourne franchise. There's running across rooftops, stealing motorcycles, evading capture in large crowds. The scenes with Renner and Weisz on a motorcycle looked really real. There's some tense and thrilling scenes in a log cabin that had me on the edge of my seat. Then there's the just plain ridiculous. It's not a spoiler to reveal that at one point, Cross wrestles a wolf! There's also a preposterous MacGyver trick with a fire extinguisher.

I admired some fine camera work, especially a couple shots of Norton and Renner in low light, with just a little glint of light off their eyes. Also, the snowfall looked really good. If it was fake snow, they deserve an Oscar.

Rachel Weisz was a consummate pro in her "resourceful but panicked accomplice" role. Her accent was solid but not invisible.
Jeremy Renner was very good. He's made some odd choices besides his quality work in The Hurt Locker and The Town. In TV commercials, this movie smelled like another poor choice, a sad overextension of a trilogy. If Damon says he's done, shouldn't the franchise close up shop too? TBL turns out to be as good a four-quel as we could ask for = exact level of quality worth an on demand rental. B-minus.