As a general rule, we prefer watching a fight to being in one. Seeing someone get kicked in the nads is preferable to having the CultBox family jewels compromised. That’s not schadenfreude, it’s just good sense. It’s also why we found all that rough camera work in the original Bourne trilogy a bit much. A car chase through Moscow is all well and good, but we’d rather see it play out than feel like we’re being thrown around the backseat of the car.
The Bourne Legacy largely dispenses with this trope. Sweeping crane shots and seemingly fewer cuts in the combat scenes makes the action far more comprehensible and lend this instalment a certain visual elegance.
Unfortunately though, the film lacks the complexity of its predecessors. A quest for self-discovery is traded in for some uninvolving guff about drugs for physical enhancements or cerebral advantage that our hero Aaron Cross (The Avengers star Jeremy Renner) can’t do without. The events of this film overlap with later elements of Bourne’s story, though there is almost no impact of these on the plot of Legacy and at times the conceit feels a little forced.
As Cross is desperately trying to track down his chewable multivitamins, Edward Norton is desperately trying to track down Cross in a moodily-lit office looking very serious indeed and barking incomprehensible phrases like ‘I need greenlight clearance on outcome stat!’ He also likes to ‘Clear the room!’ a lot, like some crazed oikologist.
Renner has the physical brutality and occasional childlike vulnerability that Damon had as Bourne, and shoulders the responsibility of being the new boy well.
Aaron Cross strikes one as a bit friendlier than Bourne. He’d beat the twelve shades of living crap out of you, but he’d say sorry and you wouldn’t be averse to a bit of a cuddle after. It is a tremendously likable performance. Rachel Weisz is an able companion to Renner, and in a somewhat original (and hopefully intentional) move, their partnership is blissfully devoid of any sexual chemistry.
The early Bourne entries set the agenda for the past decade’s movies of their genre, pushing the Bond series to incorporate grittier shades into its well-tailored world. Legacy is not game changing. It is, however, a well constructed action film with sufficient distance between itself and the original trilogy to enjoy in isolation.
Released in UK cinemas on Monday 13th August 2012 by Universal.
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