Saturday, 11 August 2012

The Bourne Legacy Commentary

I'm a big fan of the Bourne movies.  When I heard they were going to do a fourth one without Matt Damon, I was against it.  Then I saw the trailer and thought it looked really good.  It looked like a fast paced film where they would continue the Bourne theme with a different actor playing a different (but parallel) character.  Then I saw that it had Jeremy Renner, Ed Norton and Rachel Weisz and I figured it must be at least halfway decent.  I've done a 180 on my original thoughts.  This was a great film and I'm glad they've decided to continue the franchise.

Hollywood should take note.  This is the proper way to reboot a franchise.  Rather than give us the same old tired exposition of how the hero came to be, they recognized that it needs to be different from the original franchise with different characters and a different story.  I will concede that the story in the Bourne Legacy is quite similar to that of the other Bourne movies.  In fact, Renner = Matt Damon, Norton = Chris Cooper, Weisz = Potente and Stacey Keach = Brian Cox in almost every way.  But they've changed the back stories and motivations because they changed the characters.  In a way, it combines the recent Star Trek reboot with Prometheus.  Star Trek is continuing the familiar universe that we like and Prometheus took us to a point in a franchise and sent it off in another direction with different characters.  The Bourne Legacy is doing the same thing.  It starts out with events paralleling and involving those of the end of the Matt Damon movies and sending them on a course on their own while still maintaining the mix of character personalities that make the movies successful.

From a technical standpoint, there is really nothing that makes this one better than many other films of the same genre.  The film making is decent all around with some really good locales and cinematography.  The sets and locations used from the mountains in winter to sweaty Manilla streets do a really good job of evoking the right emotion in the audience.  The acting is believable which is good because it's easy to go overboard in a movie like this.  That's a testament to some very good casting.  Renner has emerged as a good actor and Norton has the range to play just about any personality.  The action is ok but not stellar.  It does have a very good chase scene in Manilla and some well choreographed fights.  But I think what makes this an above average film is that the pace keeps building and that makes the tension rise to a boiling point.  As a thriller, that is what it is supposed to do and they do it very well.

Normally, the fourth movie is a series is going to suffer.  But because they decided to refresh and reboot, it stands alone quite well.  You do have to be familiar with the first three to not get too confused (and the Bourne movies are good at confusing an audience) but I recommend all of those anyways.  See it.  It's a very good thriller.

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