By Gabriel Stoffa
Ames247 Staff Writer
Spy movies always have a big challenge to overcome: how to balance a plot not too over-the-top with action, not too much like a Michal Bay movie.
The previous Jason Bourne movies did OK, but I still cannot put my support fully behind them because I was too much of a fan of the Robert Ludlum storyline for Bourne; which “The Bourne Identity” film deviated enough from to make following Ludlum’s Bourne character impossible.
Yes, yes, movies rarely follow books exactly or even half way, but some of the books movies are based on are so good I cannot understand why Hollywood would buy a script that isn’t even near on par with the already published and successful story. Marketing requirements and studio executives really do a lot to stifle awesomeness sometimes.
With the making of “The Bourne Legacy,” the story of Operation Treadstone had a chance to make something fresh, and possibly begin to integrate some of the beautiful story arcs left behind from the Ludlum books — or so I hope as the franchise reboots.
Our new protagonist is played by Jeremy Renner as the spy named Aaron Cross. The new plot involves the other participants-turned-spies in Operation Treadstone.
Renner proved himself apt at the soldierly type character in his Oscar-nominated performance in “The Hurt Locker,” and looks cool as a spy-type in “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocal,” so his turn as a spy was convincing largely in part to the intensity he brings to his roles.
The ever-attractive Rachel Weisz appeared as the damsel in distress for Renner to rescue from entanglement in the government conspiracies. Weisz has played the woman in trouble role before, very entertainingly I might add, in “The Mummy” series, so this time playing a little less ditsy and a little more frightened wasn’t a challenge.
Edward Norton plays the big bad government man behind the curtain, to fair effect. I hope in following movies they keep him on, as Norton being a “bad guy” always tickles me.
The way the story unfolds has a pleasant spy feel without using oodles of action to detract from plot holes. Only in the last 15 minutes or so does some over-done action happen with a motorcycle chase and battles with an Asian version of “The Terminator”; and even then, the action isn’t too far gone. I guess you have to pander to some theater-goers that are just looking for action though.
“The Bourne Legacy” does run in an odd direction though with the addition of these wonder-drugs that modify your genetics to make you stronger and smarter. Apparently these are the drugs that made Cross go from Steve Rogers to Captain America; which kinda works since Renner is Hawkeye in “The Avengers.”
A slightly sci-fi twist actually works for the movie, but I hope it doesn’t go further in the series as a way to introduce essentially super-powered baddies, as that will take all the good from “The Bourne Legacy” and firmly make it into another poor franchise attempt.
I partly applaud the movie doesn’t stop in the middle of the story to have a sex scene between the Renner and Weisz, no matter how absolutely sexy Weisz is. Establishing the connection between the two happens naturally due to having their lives in constant jeopardy with only each other to rely on. Stopping for some sexy time when you are being chased by government boogeymen always makes me groan.
A definite flaw to the film comes from the amount of time spent trying to establish this movie’s connection with the rest of the “Bourne” series. Matt Damon‘s Bourne character could have been only a slightly mentioned footnote, but instead the writers actually draw focus from establishing the Cross character by name-dropping Bourne over and over.
I will go ahead and say I like Renner’s Cross character more than Damon’s Bourne, and Cross could prove to be a great franchise as long as no one is allowed to turn it into an action extravaganza and instead keep it more like “The Good Shepherd.” Bourne’s story is a man finding out who he is, while Cross’ story is a man trying to abandon who he was. Whichever way you prefer things, “The Bourne Legacy” is worth watching and should get at least one sequel.