‘The Bourne Legacy’ – What Did You Think?

One of the final big films of summer 2012 is Tony Gilroy‘s The Bourne Legacy, which casts Jeremy Renner as a new super agent brought up in a secret government program similar to the one that created Jason Bourne. The movie also stars Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, and Oscar Isaac. It has some of the frenetic action of the previous Bourne films, but doesn’t always hit the heights of the existing trilogy, especially the latter two films directed by Paul Greengrass.

Critics have been weighing in on the film ever since the review embargo broke earlier this week. Germain was slightly more positive about the film than many, and I tend to agree with him for reasons I’ll go into below. But we want to know what you think. Chime in below, and be aware that this series of posts always encourages spoilers.

The movie has an unusual structure, as it opens with extended cross-cutting between several narrative lines to establish the physical ability of Aaron Cross (Renner) as well as the lengths that a government agency, headed by Norton’s character, will go to in order to protect its secrets. Bourne exposes things, or theatens to, and Norton decides to pull the plug on a program called Outcome, in which agents are given heightened physical and mental capabilities through viral/DNA experimentation.

I loved the sequence with Oscar Isaac as another Outcome agent, as it was one of the most tense in the movie. I didn’t know exactly how that was going to play out, and Isaac acted it well. Renner is solid but not exceptional, and Weisz steps up to add a lot of emotional energy to the movie.

It really seems like Gilroy is trying to play with the structure of this sort of film, as Legacy takes its time moving forward, then hits a couple of great action beats, and builds to a slightly strange climax. I can see why he would try to do that, as the action thriller is pretty set in its ways — and many of those ways of late were defined by the other Bourne films. That said, I am left thinking that it is a film that goes to great lengths to make itself seem a lot more complicated than it really is. (A bureaucracy metaphor!) Is any of the political sturm und drang particularly convincing? I can’t say it is, but I can’t say that’s different than most films of this type.

So what did you think of The Bourne Legacy? Can you separate it from the other films in the series and evaluate it as a standalone effort, or is an estimation of this movie necessarily tied to your thoughts on the other films?

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