Aug 11, 2012 / 12:00 pm
When it comes to watching action films, I love me a good spy thriller. Anything involving government conspiracies, secret agents or CIA espionage and subterfuge is right up my alley and if done properly I'm usually thoroughly entertained. Three of the best examples of this particular genre in recent years have been the Bourne trilogy.
Having just seen The Bourne Legacy, the fourth installment in this franchise, I can say that, while it doesn't quite live up to the lofty standards set forth by its predecessors, it is nevertheless a worthy entry in the series. In this new chapter of the saga we are not following Matt Damon's Jason Bourne character any longer, instead it's Aaron Cross, played by Jeremy Renner. The film begins in the wilds of Alaska where Cross is on a training exercise. But he finds that he's the target of a legitimate threat when the secret government spy program he's a part of is hastily shut down with the exposure of Jason Bourne.
Set in a timeline that is parallel with The Bourne Ultimatum, the new film reveals that Jason Bourne was not the only chemically enhanced government agent, in fact he was one of many that happen to have heightened abilities due to taking a combination of little blue and green pills. The head of this secret division, played by Edward Norton, orders that all remaining super agents be murdered so he can cover up the program. Of course Cross escapes, and when he runs out of his meds he seeks out Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), the scientist that does his blood work every few months when he comes in from the field and provides him with his pills. Unfortunately for her, since she has knowledge of the project, she is ordered killed as well but thankfully Cross shows up just in time to save her and the rest of the film is basically the two of them on the run from the baddies while they try to get Cross the meds he needs to stay healthy.
One of the best aspects of The Bourne Legacy are the two lead actors, Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz. They both give excellent performances which should come as no surprise given there stellar track records in recent years. Weisz is particularly effective in a couple of harrowing scenes, especially one involving a shootout at a scientific lab that was quite disturbing given recent events in the news. Renner capably fills Matt Damon's shoes as the action hero that can kick some serious butt. Edward Norton is ok as the heartless villain but he didn't really seem overly menacing and I felt at times like he was just going through the motions. As far as Albert Finney, David Strathairn and Joan Allen go, it's almost not even worth mentioning as they only share a combined screen time of 60 seconds. I will say that for anyone who hasn't seen any of the other films in this series they might be a bit lost and confused as the filmmakers totally assume you're already familiar with your surroundings. There is also a lot of talk and exposition in the first half of the picture and while I didn't mind too much, some might be wondering when the action is going to pick up. Fear not, however, as the tension and suspense builds steadily throughout and by the end it culminates in a spectacular chase sequence through the streets of Manila.
Director Tony Gilroy - who also wrote the screenplays for the first three films - does a decent job of pacing the action, even if the film runs just a tad too long at 135 minutes. I wasn't as satisfied with the ending of the film as I would have liked since it just seemed like an obvious lead in to the inevitable sequel that is sure to come, but since I love this genre, no doubt I will be sucked in again.
Overall though I quite enjoyed The Bourne Legacy and I believe that anyone who is a fan of this series will be highly entertained as well. If you want some action and excitement this weekend then go check it out.
I give The Bourne Legacy a 7.5 out of 10.
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