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Published on August 14th, 2012 | by RLn Staff

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In Theaters Now: The Bourne Legacy

By Danny Simon

  • Director: Tony Gilroy
  • Screenplay: Tony and Dan Gilroy
  • Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton

Near the end of The Bourne Ultimatum, Jason Bourne outs the clandestine program that created him and jumps from a building top into the East River. His motionless body slowly descends. There’s no undoing what’s been done, though maybe there’s redemption in death? And then his body stirs and the credits role.

Five years later, the Brothers Gilroy recenter the Bourne story with a new protagonist operating amid a familiar, if less focused, milieu. After Robert Ludlum’s mystery-laden death in 2001, Eric Van Lustbader picked up the Bourne series and penned the last six installments; the Brothers Gilroy drew their inspiration for their latest offering from Lustbader’s fourth book in the series. But with a mountain of material at their disposal, the Brothers Gilroy deliver a film that feels desperate to live up to expectation.

If the film’s first act attempts to wed Aaron Cross to the world of Jason Bourne, the second and third acts seem like a contemptible attempts at divorce. This after shamelessly lifting chunks of footage from the Bourne Trilogy. The film’s second act is reminiscent of Deep Blue Sea, complete with ridiculous tech speak and convenient science, though we never see Saffron Burrows in  wet underwear. The third act follows many of the script points of Terminator 2, just substitute Louise Ozawa Changchien for Robert Patrick. At the end of Terminator 2, the protagonist sacrifices himself in a pit of molten metal, a fitting fate for careless filmmakers who fecklessly toy with a good thing.

Renner, Weisz, and Norton are really solid character actors, but here, the characters they portray are too poorly drawn. Having shown an ability to play a shell shocked everyman in the Hurt Locker, Renner is forced to play a manic character who transforms from distant to curious, to ferocious, to sensitive, to…an idiot? Well, yes, if you follow the hastily laid bread crumbs left by the Brothers Gilroy.

If choice and identity drawn from choice is really what’s at the heart of this entire saga, than unlike Bourne, Cross was in actual idiot so damaged in war that he traded freedom for security. Strangely, while Lustbader might have been pondering the thoughts of Benjamin Franklin when he penned Cross, Gilroy’s lack of nuance suggests he’s not interested in historic subtext.

Should you see this film? Yes. It’s entertaining, but more importantly, it’s really hot outside. But if you don’t see this film, don’t worry, it’ll be out on DVD next week, and Bourne installments are scheduled for the next seventy-five years. Despite big box office bluster, The Bourne Legacy just barely scrapes by on an air conditioned breeze.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdtUdEoE-Q4&version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0]

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