Thursday, August 16, 2012

"The Bourne Legacy": the title reveals a not-so-high story concept

The title of “The Bourne Legacy”, Universal’s new franchise thriller directed by (and story partly concocted by) Tony Gilroy), tells you the concept, and also hints at what’s “wrong” with this summer sizzler.  It waited until August, after all, to come out. Yes, it’s a mashup of karma inherited from all of Robert Ludlum’s novels.  There’s even a photo of Matt Damon as the former Jason Bourne.

This time, Jeremy Renner (just 41) plays the new “hero” Aaron Cross, and in the opening scenes, holed up in Alaska (actually Alberta) he’s too far ahead of schedule on adapting to the bizarre drugs the CIA has delivered to his body through viral vectors.  As “Outcome # 5’, he gets a checkup visit from a hunkier Outcome #3 (Oscar Isaac).  Now, he doesn’t really look that super in disrobed shots.  His hairless body is not as perfect as, say, that of Michael Phelps – and let’s add that there is a flashback showing the medical transformation that he once underwent (looking like a bone marrow transplant patient). His beard – that’s all he has – is turning gray. (I don’t know if the movie has any pun with Disney’s “I Am Number 4” (Feb. 20, 2011 here). 

When the CIA finds out, it’s also exposed to some internal pressures from the FBI to cover up its “Operation Outcome”, so the not-so-big chief Eric Byer (Ed Norton, who is starting to look wan) order the outcomes eliminated.

Now there’s a sequence with a gray wolf (echoing “The Grey” (Feb. 2), with artificial animal winding up with the internal body tracker.  Back home, scientist Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) gets a visit from security forces, after another Ivins-type  (David Straithain) shoots up people in a lab.  The film moves from one setting to another (although a lot of it takes place around Bethesda MD) with ease, winding up with a great chase and escape for Marta and Aaron in Manila, right out of Global Pursuit.

While the virus-driven implantation of new Nietzchean genes sounds like a great sci-fi idea (I do the same thing with my book manuscript “Angels’ Brothers”), a whole story based on fibbies hunting down their own people (that is, fibbies becoming goons) doesn’t sound too transformative.  John Grisham, let alone Robert Ludlum, would think of much better.  In the end, what’s the point?

As for the characters, ,movies like this give a "jaded" idea of what people live for:  world domination and ego, but not relationships or any emotional investment in other generations. 

 I got lazy and went to and older local AMC and saw it in a smaller auditorium. The Courthouse theater has put in digital projection in every auditorium, but the sound system, which seemed to do the stereo from hidden ceiling speakers, had trouble making the speech clear (that was true during previews, too); it sounded as though the spoken passages were missing a channel, even though the music and fireworks sounded great.

 The official site is here.

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