Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Movie Review - The Bourne Legacy

I've never read any of the Bourne books by Robert Ludlum, but I've seen the 3 Bourne movies featuring Matt Damon and generally speaking I really enjoyed them. Thus when I heard there was a new Bourne movie coming out, I was excited. But when I heard that it wasn't going to feature Matt Damon a la Jason Bourne, I was a little confused and nervous.

Instead of following the actions of Jason Bourne, we get to tag along with Aaron Cross as he races around the globe searching for answers. For those familiar with the previous Bourne movies, you will find some moderately familiar territory. This film is set in the middle of Jason Bourne's adventures exposing Blackbriar and Treadstone. At first I thought the concurrent storyline was just a cheesy attempt to keep this movie grounded to the overall series. The blending of the story lines had a higher purpose than that. Knowing what happens towards the end of Jason Bourne's movie adventures, it makes sense that this story would have to happen before Bourne finished his operations. And yet, since we're told that Jason Bourne was the "first" in the Blackbriar/Treadstone events, we necessarily must have these events happen after the Bourne Identity.

Granted, you can put all of that concurrent timeline stuff aside because the script does its part to make sure new viewers aren't lost. If you hadn't seen a Bourne movie before, you'd be able to catch on fairly quickly and all you would miss would be the small references to people, places or events that happened in the other films…nothing pivotal to the plot of this movie. Even having seen the previous movies and knowing the nature of Blackbriar and Treadstone, the movie did all it could to try and obfuscate details and keep you in the dark as to what was going to happen.

The focus of the film is on Aaron Cross. At the onset of the movie, he's on some sort of mission taking him through the frigid wilds of Alaska where he meets another operative. It's clear from snippets of dialog and suspicious glances that Cross has disobeyed the rules and potentially been flagged by the higher ups. The camera work made sure to provide plenty of tension when Cross meets up with his counterpart. The viewers haven't been given any information as to the missions of either operative and so the filmmakers strive to keep us in the dark and make us wonder when the powder keg will finally ignite.

When the explosion does finally happen, it comes at you sideways, as does much of the plot. This film seems focused more on the conspiracies and cover-ups than on the fights and explosions. While there are some exciting action scenes, there are more scenes that are either suspense or exposition to explain the conspiracy. There were a lot of moving pieces in the story so there was always the potential for another surprise to show up. When the pieces did collide, the action was effective and exciting but generally over pretty quickly. There were a couple of extended chase scenes that went on for a while but otherwise the action sequences were pretty short.

The plot of the film was interesting. It opened up a lot of details about Treadstone that hadn't previously been explained. I was a little bummed by the sci-fi genetic manipulation aspect since it seemed to somewhat lessen the coolness of Aaron Cross or Jason Bourne or their counterparts. It's a fun concept but I was hoping for something a little different. I still suspected there would be some sort of sci-fi element to account for their behavior, but I figured it might be some type of brainwashing or something similar. Oh well, it's still fun.

It's been a while since I saw the other 3 Bourne films so I can't recall exactly how they compare. It seems like this one had fewer confrontational fight sequences and less action scenes overall. I liked Aaron Cross generally as a character but I found him less compassionate and relatable than Jason Bourne. His interactions with his female ally felt both more likely and less real than those of Bourne's.

Overall, it was a fun film and an interesting exploration into the world created in the other Bourne movies. As far as either an adventure movie or a conspiracy/suspense movie, I felt like it tried to straddle the fence too much and didn't excel at either genre. It was well done and fun but not something I will likely return to again and again.

3 out of 5 stars


Brian Miller said...

ok, whew...i was hoping this would be good...will wait for the dollar theatre but it sounds like it accomplishes pretty much what the other bourne films did which is be a pretty cool action thriller...

Okie said...

Yeah...it was pretty good and fun. It just didn't "raise the bar" for me in any way.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. My wife enjoyed it even more than the other Bourne films, which really surprised me. The ending chase scene is breathtaking, although the ending to that scene was a bit abrupt.

Phoenix said...

We're seeing it on Friday! Great review and I'll probably come back after Friday to see what I agree/don't agree with. I loved the other three movies so hopefully I'll like this one just as much :)