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RUNNING TIME: 135 minutes
• Enter Aaron Cross
• Crossing Continents: Legacy on Location
• Man vs. Wolf
• Wolf Sequence Test
• Moving Targets: Aaron and Marta
• Deleted Scenes
• Capturing Chaos: The Motorbike Chase
Jason Bourne wasn’t the only CIA super-soldier who enjoyed giving ultimatums!
Co-written and directed by Tony Gilroy, co-written by Dan Gilroy, starring Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz, Scott Glenn, and Stacy Keach.
Bourne Trilogy mainstay Tony Gilroy expands the franchise’s universe with another secret CIA program and another super-soldier. This time he’s not an amnesiac, he’s a junkie. The result is a great action movie bogged down by sub-plots and constant references to Jason Bourne.
Jason Bourne was a genetically altered superspy who recovered from his amnesia and exposed the CIA’s Treadwell program. After he gave the intelligence community his ultimatum, Bourne was presumed dead, shot and drowned in the East River. As Bourne’s story comes to an end underwater, so Aaron Cross’ begins.
The events of The Bourne Legacy run parallel to The Bourne Ultimatum. When we meet Cross, he’s up in the Alaskan wilderness, fighting off wolves and popping pills. The pills, or “chems” as he calls them, sustain his genetically altered physical and mental enhancements. During his training in the wilderness, connections between Bourne’s Treadstone program and Cross’ Outcome program begin to surface. Unable to risk transparency, the CIA and Colonel Eric Bryer (Edward Norton) has no choice but to order the termination of all super-soldiers.
Cross narrowly escapes drone missiles (relevant!) and has to go hunting for a supply of chems to keep himself going. As bad luck would have it, when Byer ordered the soldiers to be terminated, he also “activated” a sleeper agent who works in the laboratory where the chems are manufactured. This agent goes on a shooting spree and manages to kill all of the scientists with knowledge of the chems – except one, Dr. Marts Shearing (Rachel Weisz).
Cross and Shearing join forces and escape death at Shearing’s summer home in one of the film’s truly suspenseful and well-layed out action sequences. They flee to Manila, where Dr. Shearing believes she can eliminate Cross’ chem dependency through virus witchcraft. Rehab is even rough on super-soldiers though and Cross is dragged through the wringer before he’s able to do bunnyhops on motorcycles again and backflip over CIA headquarters while flipping them off. That’s at least how I wish it ended.
Universal banked on Jeremy Renner’s star power to keep the Bourne franchise going sans Damon. Not like how the James Bond franchise continues with another actor in the lead role, but with a new character all together. That’s a pretty ballsy approach to a sequel. Or reboot. Or remake. Or whatever.
Bourne Trilogy writer Tony Gilroy took the directing reigns from Paul Greengrass, who left behind a successful legacy of shaky-cam close-quarter fighting and engaging central intelligence intrigue devoid of any heroism. Gilroy’s film has all of that – including, unfortunately, the shaky cam, but it lacks a crucial element: momentum. The action stuff is great (even when it’s a little comic book-like at times) and Renner nails it, but Gilroy unfortunately beefs up his film with too much plot until it feels like you’re watching two separate films grappling for your attention.
Greengrass’ Bourne films had enough of a grasp on reality that I never thought of them as anything more than political action thrillers. But with Legacy, Gilroy has made more of a science fiction film with chemicals, genetic alterations, superhuman powers, and motorcycle grinds. And I’m into it. The man knows how to direct an action sequence and he keeps a nice sense of geography throughout – particularly during the rooftop chase in Manila. Knock it off with the shaky cam though – it makes hand-to-hand combat look awful. So as a gritty, globe-trotting action movie, Legacy is strong.
But all of the operations room shenanigans with Norton and friends constantly eliminates any momentum. Along with this, the audience is relentlessly inundated with connections to the Bourne Trilogy. There are frequent CIA updates and news reports about Jason Bourne, we see his photograph on a desk, and, in the silliest nod to JB, we see his name carved in a bunk bed that Cross sleeps in while training in Alaska. “Bourne Wuz Here.” It’s a bit distracting after a while.
The Bourne Legacy is a good movie, but not a great one. The cast is terrific, especially Renner and Norton. I especially like how they progressively make Norton look like a sleep-deprived weasel as the film goes on. The kinetic action sequences and suspenseful shoot outs display Gilroy’s craftsmanship, but the movie’s bogged down by so many back and forth plots and Bourne nods, that it’s never given the chance to become the fantastic action movie it could be. Don’t worry though because the ending leaves it wide open for a sequel!
The Bourne Legacy is presented in 1080p 2.40:1 widescreen, with DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 Surround. The picture is flawless and features crisp contrast and clean edges. The audio mix is relentless and utilizes every channel like a junkie on chems.
AUDIO COMMENTARY: Tony Gilroy is joined by co-writer Dan Gilroy, editor John Gilroy, DP Robert Elswit, and more in an exhaustive and thorough commentary.
ENTER AARON CROSS: Jeremy Renner talks about stepping into the Bourne universe and developing a new super-soldier
CROSSING CONTINENTS: This on location featurette boasts some exotic behind the scenes footage.
RE-BOURNE: The filmmakers discuss the challenges of continuing the series and expanding on the universe.
MOVING TARGETS: The filmmakers and cast talk about Aaron and Dr. Shearing as the focus of the film.
MAN VS. WOLF: A look at the real and animatronic wolves used in the film.
WOLF TEST SEQUENCE: An animated storyboard used to plan out the wolf attack.
CAPTURING CHAOS: THE MOTORBIKE CHASE: Behind the scenes of the climactic motorcycle chase.
DELETED SCENES: Seven minutes of deleted scenes with optional commentary.
Rating: Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Out of a Possible 5 Stars