Friday, August 17, 2012

Review: The Bourne Legacy

Alright, so I'd been pretty geared up to see The Bourne Legacy. It was going to be all spies and espionage and Jeremy Renner, right? Well. It's actually taken me nearly a week to process what happened before me on the screen, so take that as you will and head below the cut for a spoiler-filled look at Bourne 4: Bourne Harder.

I conducted a bit of an experiment when I went to see this movie. It was an experiment that was ultimately a total goddamn disaster, but hey, for science. I'd never seen a Bourne movie prior to this (no, I don't know how either), so I actively decided NOT to watch them and go into this one blind, to see how well they explained everything.

As a result, I spent the whole first hour utterly confused. What is a Treadstone? Chems? What the hell is with these chems? Why does everyone want chems? If I had to summarise the first part of the movie, it would be 'Edward Norton wanted to kill Jeremy Renner and his friends, but then Jeremy Renner put a dinner plate over his groin and Edward Norton thought he was dead, but then Edward Norton realised Jeremy Renner actually wasn't dead so tried to kill him again'. I still don't really know who Ed Norton's character was. According to Wikipedia he was a retired USAF colonel responsible for overseeing the CIA's clandestine operations, and is wrangled to help when Bourne exposes some other programs and the FBI goes 'Wait, what? You're doing WHAT?' It was really, really boring.

This boring boring opening was intercut with Renner's character Aaron Cross on a 'training exercise' in Alaska, which seemed to involve him being really cold, and hiking, and being cold in water, and wrasslin' wolves, and being cold in trees, and jumping across crevices, and did I mention being cold in different situations? I was really worried the whole two hours was just going to be him hiking. The movie picks up considerably when Cross teams up with super scientist lady Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) but it feels like it takes a loooong time getting there.

To be honest, Marta was probably the best thing about the whole movie (well, apart from Renner's biceps, but I'm going to TRY and not be too shallow in this review). She was a strong female character, not there as a love interest or someone to be saved, but as an ally and asset. She was smart, she was interesting, and her reactions to the things that were going on around her were so refreshingly human and in-character. The scene where Cross thinks he's dying in Manila and he's all sweaty and shirtless could have easily gone down bow-chicka-wow-wow lines in any other writer's hands, but instead Marta leaves him there in the mood lighting and goes to get medicine. LOGICAL. She did however have some of the most unintentionally hilarious lines in the movie. I'll often use 'for science' to justify questionable entertainment choices that I make, but Marta Shearing used it legitimately. 'Why did you give us all these drugs and run tests and poke us?' 'I DID IT FOR THE SCIENCE!' Lulz.

Cross as a standalone character is really rather hard to connect to, and kind of borders on...boring. The only real empathy I felt for him was the scene where he explained why he didn't want to give up the enhancement medication. He was such a slack-jawed yokel to start off with that the 'chems' actually raised him up to normal intelligence and he was terrified of going back. He actually became more interesting when paired with Marta, and I wish they'd given a little more time to their relationship. Not in a kissy-face kind of way, but you felt that there had been some kind of connection back when he was her guinea pig, even if it was just the fact he didn't get to interact with that many people who knew who/what he was, and he latched on a little. There were a few contextually very intimate moments that I loved, just a touch or a hand-hold here and there, and digging into that a little more would have added a bit more consequence to some of their actions.

The bulk of my problem with this movie was the lack of action. Not enough action to be an action movie, not enough of a sharp plot to be an intellectual thriller. It just kind of hovered in limbo for 90% of the movie. The obvious exception to this statement was the motorcycle chase through Manila, but even then it didn't feel like it was cranked up to 11. They were being chased by Larx, an empathy-deficient asset who was conveniently not killed when all the others were (I liked to refer to him as 'Asian Bourne'). While it was a fairly thrilling sequence (made better by knowing Renner did his own stunts. DREAMBOAT), I spent the whole thing waiting for Larx to catch up to them. I couldn't wait for Cross and Shearing to go toe-to-toe with this badass supersoldier! Sadly, 'motorcycle riding' obviously wasn't a compulsory unit at supersoldier school, cause Larx met a fairly unceremonious end after riding into a pole. Oh well.

And this brings us to the ending. Oh, the ending. I was so very nearly swayed into contented apathy by the closing scene. A shirtless Renner with sexy stubble and battle scars, dreamy golden light, sailing off in a boat to a tropical paradise. Then the credits rolled and I nearly lost my brain. They're finishing it THERE?? Nothing has been resolved! Everyone knows they're still alive! They're still being chased! You think hanging out on a secluded Thai beach is going to give you a free pass for the rest of your lives? NO! The people who are after you blew up a fucking WOLF with a MISSILE  from a GAZILLION MILES AWAY! If they can do THAT they can find YOU!

The ending pissed me off.

I'd said going in that I didn't really care how bad it was, cause I was just there for the perv-factor. Much to my intense disappointment, the HNNG-factor did not outweigh the snore-factor. The guns were in their holsters far too often, so to speak. I could probably count on one hand the moments in the movie that made me want to do unspeakable things to Jeremy Renner, compared to him only being in the Avengers for 12 minutes, and me running out of fingers and toes. Now I'm just holding out for Hansel the Fabulous Witch Hunter or whatever it's going to be called. Ugh. Being a fangirl is hard, you know?

At the end of the day, Bourne Legacy wasn't terrible, but it certainly was very average. There was a lot of STUFF going on, but not a lot of it was particularly interesting stuff, and the whole storyline felt like a spinning wheel that was trying to gain traction but never managed it. I was assured by my companions who had seen the Bourne trilogy that Legacy was really nowhere in the league of the originals, so while much of my review does hinge on the fact I had no idea what was going on, I don't think my opinion would have changed significantly if I did know.

I give The Bourne Legacy 2.5 Bicep Curls out of 5.

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