The Bourne films are back, but this time without their title character. Check out my review of the new Bourne lead, Jeremy Renner, in The Bourne Legacy after the jump.
Jeremy Renner steps up as Aaron Cross (or Number 5), a member of a special ‘Black Ops’ team run by the Defensive Department, who are provided with pills which significantly enhance both their mental and physical abilities. Details of the Treadstone Project are leaked (it is assumed by Jason Bourne) and the FBI launch an investigation into the work of the heads of both the Treadstone and Black Ops project. As a safety measure, it is decided that all of the members of the Black Ops team, and those closely associated must be eliminated.
Aaron isn’t that easy to take out, and it becomes his mission to not only stay alive, but to get the pills needed to retain his enhanced abilities. He meets Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) along the way, and as she too is seeking refuge, they together embark on a dangerous mission in a seemingly hopeless attempt to save their own lives.
This film works as an action film but doesn’t pack the same thrilling punches as the original trilogy. Unfortunately the film’s need to tie it’s story so closely to the trilogy meant that the first 20-30 minutes of the film were extremely exposition heavy. It spent far too much time setting up the reason why the Black Ops team members needed to be taken out. At 2 hours 15 minutes, the film is a little on the lengthy side, and I can’t help but think a tighter start would have contributed greatly to a creating a much better paced film overall.
What does work are the impressive action set pieces. From chases, to air attacks, to gun fights – this film has them all and they are all well executed. The highlight comes in the later stages in the film where there is a particularly impressive (and very lengthy) chase scene. While it starts off on foot, it soon progresses to a chase involving cars and bicycles. While watching I couldn’t help but think of the chase scene in the 2008 film RocknRolla, when the Russian “heavy” just wouldn’t die and kept the chase going and going. I was certainly on the edge of my seat throughout the scene.
Jeremy Renner is great, and it’s clear from his performances in this and in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol that he is a fantastic smart action start. Surprisingly (for me), it was at the close combat, one-on-one action scenes which he excelled at the most – he sure knows how to pack a mean punch. Edward Norton playing Retired Col. Eric Byer, the head of the CIA’s clandestine operations was the other highlight for me – he has a very particular way of delivery lines with real wit and scorn.
Overall The Bourne Legacy doesn’t quite live up to the standard set by the original trilogy, but it is an enjoyable action flick nonetheless. Perhaps a sequel might be less exposition heavy, and give us more of the brute and high-adrenaline stuff that we actually watch these films for.
Director: Tony Gilroy
Screenplay: Tony Gilroy & Dan Gilroy
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz
Runtime: 135 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: August 16 2012