Nordling Says THE BOURNE LEGACY Gives The Fans What They Want (No, Not Matt Damon)!
This may cause many of you to tune out, and that's fine - I'm not the biggest fan of the Bourne movies. This has nothing to do with their quality - they're well-made, well-acted movies. My ambivalence comes from an entirely personal place. The Bourne movies, especially the last two, have a strange disconnect for me. I think Paul Greengrass is an extraordinary director - UNITED 93 is straight up a masterpiece - but how he mixes together the post-9/11 ambiguity and moral quandaries of the United States government with action and makes it into a thrill ride never sat quite right with me. Perhaps it's in the execution, but it's as if Greengrass is sugarcoating a very bitter pill. American audiences may be enjoying the ride, but it comes saddled with some very serious themes and issues.
And frankly, most audiences aren't picking up on it. They may consider the machinations of government agents to wipe all trace of our more nefarious deeds as simple fiction, but history has proven them wrong. There's a verisimilitude to the Bourne movies - we may never know how close to reality these movies are in its portrayal of various aspects of our government, but it certainly feels accurate. This is just an aesthetic choice for me, but this mix of real-world politics with popcorn action never quite gels. Movies like the recent TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY are amazing in its sense of reality, and the Bond movies have never come close to the real world, and how the Bourne movies mix those two aspects is a bit disorientating. It's a tonal swing that's never quite worked for me. I think THE BOURNE IDENTITY is the best of these movies because it manages to balance the two the most successfully. And, no offense to Paul Greengrass, but it's just shot better. I still can't embrace that camerawork that makes every action scene incoherent - it's done better in ULTIMATUM, but in SUPREMACY, it's seizure-inducing.
Again, that's a personal taste. Some people love the messages mixed with the mayhem, and if you enjoy these movies, THE BOURNE LEGACY brings all those pleasures back with a new hero, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner). Unlike Bourne, searching for his identity, Cross knows exactly who and what he is. He hasn't quite put his ghosts behind him, but he's put them in a place where they don't affect the mission. As the movie opens, he's on an exercise in Alaska, fighting off wolves and trying to survive the frozen terrain. It's a shame Liam Neeson and his crew didn't meet up with Cross when their plane crash-landed in THE GREY.
When the events in THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM go down, Cross is away from the action, so he doesn't have any knowledge of everything that's happening. But because of Bourne's actions, Admiral Mark Turso (Stacy Keach) is forced to bring in Eric Byer (Edward Norton) to help clean up the mess. Byer decides there's only one way to do that - shut down all the programs, everywhere, and walk away, including Outcome, the program Cross is in. What that means for the agents in the field, or course, is death.
Unfortunately for Cross, not only is the government trying to kill him, but he's also hooked on "chems" - drugs that enhance his physical and mental abilities, and when he doesn't have access to them, he'll break down. Cross's only hope is to get to Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), a doctor who helped design the drugs. But shutting down Outcome means shutting her down as well, permanently, so Cross has to race against time to save her life and his own.
Tony Gilroy knows this world better than probably anyone (except the late Robert Ludlum, but the movies have strayed fairly far from the source at this point) and while Greengrass isn't behind the camera in this movie, Gilroy puts us back into this world with no problems. Further, he doesn't subscribe to Greengrass's mode of shooting action - the camerawork is more similar to the first movie than to the other two, with sequences staged for coherency rather than intensity. The way Gilroy intercuts Cross's journey with Byer's search for him is terrific as well. I particularly liked how Byer and his team manage to track down Cross in a matter of hours just from surveillance cameras across the planet. The writing is tight, full of technical jargon but it's never difficult to understand the stakes and what everyone's role is. Fair warning: there is a very violent (for PG-13) sequence when a sleeper agent becomes activated and murders quite a few people in a killing spree at a medical lab. Considering recent events, it may be difficult for some people to stomach.
Jeremy Renner does good work here, especially as his needs for his "chems" become more desperate, as he tracks down Rachel Weisz's character for a more permanent solution to his withdrawal. Norton plays the villain but doesn't play him like one - he's very much a patriot and knows what needs to get done, so you even find yourself rooting for him a little (if only a little). Weisz basically plays the smart scientist-in-distress template here, and she's done amazing work in other movies, but she's not really asked to carry the weight of this summer action movie, and isn’t very memorable.
The problem with THE BOURNE LEGACY is that this is obviously a new start for this franchise, and as such the movie doesn't really have an ending. I'm getting more than a little irritated with how many of these franchise movies aren't interested in having a satisfying resolution as they are in setting up the stakes for the next one. Even THE AVENGERS (which we all know will have a sequel) had a satisfying ending, and if they never made another one that movie would still be fine on its own. THE BOURNE LEGACY can't claim that - not on the front end, where seeing the other Bourne movies is an absolute requirement, and not on the back, where we know this story will continue with only a few of the issues resolved in any way. It's very much a stopgap movie, and while Cross is an interesting character, he can't support the weight of this franchise. Not yet, anyway.
This all leads up to the return of Jason Bourne in some fashion, of course, and while one hopes Renner and Matt Damon will face off in a later movie, THE BOURNE LEGACY isn't it. It's just setting up plot turns and possibilities for future installments. Fans of this franchise, of course, will come away satisfied, I think, but for people like me who aren't that invested in these movies, THE BOURNE LEGACY feels like more of the same.
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Aug. 9, 2012, 7:49 p.m. CST
It's been a while, old friend
Aug. 9, 2012, 7:49 p.m. CST
by BADBOYBROM HC
Aug. 9, 2012, 7:50 p.m. CST
by BADBOYBROM HC
Aug. 9, 2012, 7:55 p.m. CST
by Gary Makin
Aug. 9, 2012, 8:05 p.m. CST
Aug. 9, 2012, 8:07 p.m. CST
Aug. 9, 2012, 8:37 p.m. CST
No you didn't need to click. That... that was actually it... up there...
Aug. 9, 2012, 8:44 p.m. CST
I was just never able to articulate it quite so eloquently as you just did.
Aug. 9, 2012, 8:49 p.m. CST
by Nasty In The Pasty
Aug. 9, 2012, 9:02 p.m. CST
Siezures for sure....Glad to hear the moive is good, how could it not be without Matt Damon. Nordling is the best!
Aug. 9, 2012, 9:34 p.m. CST
Aug. 9, 2012, 9:46 p.m. CST
"...my distaste comes from a personal place...", the mixins of blah, blah, blah with yadda-yadda-yadda....
by Coughlins Laws
Wow, way to make yourself sound like a self-important douche...
Aug. 9, 2012, 10 p.m. CST
...surpasses and encompasses the first two films in the series. As far as Bourne 4, no Damon, no me likey. Hawkeye is cool and all, but this all seems forced.
Aug. 9, 2012, 10:01 p.m. CST
In the theater, my theater is awesome like that. I refused to see TOTAL REMAKE last weekend because fuck that movie. I enjoy the previous Bourne movies though and I never read any of the Ludlum or Lustbader novels. Also, note to Hollywood, if you are looking to adapt something new into a franchise for adults look no further than the Ninja novels by Lustbader, just keep them faithful and a hard R and it will =$$$. I would love to see those books made into movies, or at least a series on HBO or Showtime.
Aug. 9, 2012, 10:07 p.m. CST
The awful shakycam in the second movie totally ruined it for me. When I pay to see an action film, I like to see a little more in the action scenes than a screen that looks like somebody just dropped the camera over and over can called it a "fight scene". If Greengrass was in charge of that shite, well...I may not be paying for anymore Bourne films that he directs.
Aug. 9, 2012, 10:12 p.m. CST
I thought BOURNE ID was sloppy in the extreme with the action sequences, trying to convey dynamics that didn't happen on camera through tricky overcutting. What little I remember was some flawed bit that seemed to avoid showing him actually climbing the building he was climbing, and a scene in a bank or hotel where he spins around on someone in a fight that has absolutely zero energy and the most feeble choreography. Not caring a jot about anyone besides Clive Owen (who I didn't even know about, let alone recognize, when I saw the film) didn't help matters either. I've seen chunks of the second one and it just looked amateurish, like AbramsTrek without the lens flare overkill. The trailer for this one looks better than all of what has gone before, I'll say that much. And it sounds like the politics of the storytelling is going to be of interest.
Aug. 9, 2012, 10:13 p.m. CST
They might as well add some capes and be done with it!
Aug. 9, 2012, 10:42 p.m. CST
trevanian, no one cares if you have an opinion about a movie you admit to never watching all the way through.
by Coughlins Laws
The Bourne Identity was directed by a guy who had never done action before and he did an admirable job with a relatively small budget. The two sequels were non-stop adrenaline rushes...
Aug. 9, 2012, 10:49 p.m. CST
by Balkin Flabgurter
Aug. 9, 2012, 10:51 p.m. CST
by Balkin Flabgurter
just move to sin city.. you'll love it here..
Aug. 9, 2012, 11:10 p.m. CST
by Art Pennington
Saw this Tuesday night on a sneak preview. Just as I get settled thinking there was a third act, the film just ended. To me a sign of poor film making.
Aug. 9, 2012, 11:10 p.m. CST
Bourne movies absolutely suck. Especially the first one. They're boring, they try too hard to make "nuanced"liberal political statements, the action scenes stink and so does Matt Damon acting like a little sissy. Say what you want about the how bond is "unrealistic".....who cares- he's fucking Bond...James Bond.
Aug. 9, 2012, 11:29 p.m. CST
Aug. 10, 2012, 12:28 a.m. CST
Aug. 10, 2012, 1:14 a.m. CST
by Balkin Flabgurter
said it 100 times, cut me off a piece a' that!
Aug. 10, 2012, 1:24 a.m. CST
Between you and Kidd both, for christs sake.
Aug. 10, 2012, 2:56 a.m. CST
Remeber AICN is not the place for well informed and researched reviews. Knowledge of other films in a series? pssh! they have better things to do
Aug. 10, 2012, 3:13 a.m. CST
Devils hell, that shakey-cam shit of Greengrass' really fucked up the previous action. Thank god that they have gone with a director that doesn't direct like he is having some kind of fucking seizure! I'll look forward to catching this on an Orange Wednesday for sure...
Aug. 10, 2012, 4:45 a.m. CST
But if you've seen the first, you've seen them all. I never thought the follow-ups added anything new, it's just more Matt Damon vs. The World (in shaky-cam view).
Aug. 10, 2012, 5 a.m. CST
Just because there's action in them does not mean they dominate the narrative like typical dumb-action films. Those disappointed by the effect of a continuous moving camera (so called shaky-cam) simply aint cultured enough to admire what it brings to the sequences because they are from a generation that needs to be spoon fed their visuals with a napkin of simplicity. The first film is about a man trying to discover who and what he was. The second film is about his need to seek redemption for what he'd done and not be defined by his past sins. The third film was his quest to expose those that made him what he was and reclaim his life. They are outstanding films that differ from their source material yet deliver a high quality of intriguing narrative. They're not dumb action films for those just looking for a next fist fight, car chase and explosion typically choreographed like an MTV video. If you didn't grasp what people love about the series then bugger off and watch one of the several hundred releases every year that suits you. The continuing Bourne Legacy is for its fans, not for you!
Aug. 10, 2012, 5:16 a.m. CST
i can watch the bourne trilogy on a loop i love it so much. can't wait for this. i was worried in the trailers he seems to be genetically enhanced or whatever and it's getting shit reviews on rt as well, but i'll reserve judgment for now.
Aug. 10, 2012, 5:31 a.m. CST
Ahh, right. So we've finally got an assassin who's okay with being an assassin. Except the guys who trained him no longer want assassins, so they send assassins to assassinate the assassin. So, rather than being a series about a guy yelling, "Leave me alone, I don't want to be an assassin any more, that bullet-induced lobotomy woke me up to the fact that I was an unthinking 'patriotic' dick!", it's now a series about a guy yelling, "Stop trying to kill me, I'm okay with being an assassin, why won't you just let me kill someone?! And give me my fucking super-drugs, damn it!" So who's the actual good guy here? Who are we supposed to be rooting for? Bourne, who wakes up to the fact that he used to be a fucking dick working for sinister government dicks, or Cross, who's perfectly okay with being a fucking dick working for sinister government dicks, if only those fucking sinister government dicks would stop being such sinister government dicks and just GIVE HIM HIS FUCKING SUPER-DRUGS ALREADY? I eagerly await the next series change-up, where the assassin-on-the-run is a sexy young woman who kicks all kinds of arse, but a bullet to the head has left her with two personalities; one who just wants to be left alone by her CIA paymasters, the other who just wants her daily dose of kill-happy meds and a really big fucking gun that matches her dominatrix outfit. Call it 'The Bourne Femininity', job's a good 'un.
Aug. 10, 2012, 6:25 a.m. CST
Aug. 10, 2012, 6:28 a.m. CST
by Spandau Belly
I'd watch it and would probably enjoy it, but I won't go out of my way to see it.
Wow, the plot to this one sounds awful. So Jeremy Renner needs special super soldier chems to stop himself turning back into a lesbian. Its a race against time to get his midichlorian count up. Sounds more like a job for Jason Stathm. Although judging by the reviews this film is more WANK than CRANK.
Aug. 10, 2012, 7:28 a.m. CST
Jimmy Kimmel last night said "I think it's BETTER without Bourne!" hahahah that Kimmel/Damon thing never gets old. Love it.
Aug. 10, 2012, 7:29 a.m. CST
I absolutely checked out last week and missed Total Recall...but this flick will get my butt back in cinema seat this weekend!
Aug. 10, 2012, 7:47 a.m. CST
Lard Ass! Lard Ass!
Aug. 10, 2012, 8:36 a.m. CST
by I am_NOTREAL
But I've never had the urge to see any of them again. Tony Gilroy - Michael Clayton was good, Duplicity was smug, preening bullshit. Adding it up...this screams Netflix someday to me.
Aug. 10, 2012, 8:50 a.m. CST
Nuh-uh. Supremacy is assembled with much greater verve than Identity. Ultimatum, on the other hand, takes the shakey-cam way too far.
Aug. 10, 2012, 9:08 a.m. CST
Jeremy Renner has the perfect face and giant head to play a Hobbit, Gnome or even a Dwarf but outside of that he is just not very convincing in any other role. Peter Jackson needs to cast his abnormally large cranium in something to do with Middle Earth!
Aug. 10, 2012, 9:10 a.m. CST
You mean a guy walking briskly through European train stations, bus stations and hotel lobbies, looking suspiciously from side to side?
Aug. 10, 2012, 9:35 a.m. CST
Aug. 10, 2012, 10:06 a.m. CST
Aug. 10, 2012, 10:12 a.m. CST
The worst thing to happen in movies of the last 15 or so years is this stupid, ugly, worthless technique that hides a Director's inexperience and ignorance. You take every shaky-cam scene from any given movie, edit them together into a montage of sorts and it would be an incoherent, jumbled mess. You could not tell a logical flowing story with said scenes. Awful. Watch more, better movies before giving Greengrass the thumps up, because he really does suck.
Aug. 10, 2012, 10:36 a.m. CST
Aug. 10, 2012, 10:44 a.m. CST
Aug. 10, 2012, 10:46 a.m. CST
And to the haters, maybe you misunderstood "realistic" tone. A more realistic spy flick isn't going to have some asshole in a tuxedo wooing a Russian supermodel scientist at a fancy charity at a European castle
Aug. 10, 2012, 10:46 a.m. CST
by Seth Cohen
...hearing about these stupid fucking "chems" just solidified the fact that i never need to see this movie, even as a rental...
Aug. 10, 2012, 11 a.m. CST
Way to talk all around the point without ever clearly making it. In spy movies today, it's always *we* who are the bad guys. Exceptions are very rare. So even if you appreciate American self-loathing, the sheer boredom and predictability of it all drags a film down.
Aug. 10, 2012, 11:08 a.m. CST
Aug. 10, 2012, 12:12 p.m. CST
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/disorientating?s=t&ld=1089 I guess you couldn't spare the 5 seconds to look this up first. Thanks for publicly displaying your ineptitude.
Aug. 10, 2012, 12:13 p.m. CST
How many lens glares (contrived but genuine ones mixed with the faux ones) do you have to see in AbramsTrek to conclude it was made by somebody who has the visual acumen of a 9 year old playing with a zoom lens for the first time? From what I've seen of Greengrass' BOURNE, you could not pay me to watch any more of them. That's on the basis of general photographic/cinematic tenants being drowned buried and cremated. It's one thing to break rules as an exception with specific purpose in mind ... and quite another to create a movie product that seems designed to sell anti-nausea pills. And as far as Greengrass and credibility ... the fact he would shoot a piece of propaganda like UNITED 93, with a script based on transcripts that weren't even released till the movie was ready to come out (neat trick, that) is enough to make me think he'll eventually defy history and logic in all sorts of other ways ... maybe shoot a version of the ASSAULT ON THE LIBERTY story where incompetent US navy guys are somehow responsible for the Israelis who strafed, napalmed & torpedoed the Liberty while it flew its colors in international waters. Or get together with Hanks to demonstrate conclusively how Sirhan's little revolver was able to fire 22 rounds off while RFK got killed. Creative fiction, at its most despicable. (and yeah, I know MISSISSIPPPI BURNING plays fast & loose with the real facts, but at least its heart was in the right place, instead of apparently being up for sale to the highest bidder.)
Aug. 10, 2012, 12:23 p.m. CST
Fans of watching the same boring old shit over and over again?
Aug. 11, 2012, 9:52 a.m. CST
trevanian, I realize what you're saying about Wing Commander, but that's not a fair comparison. The Bourne movies were almost universally praised and audience favorites. A movie like Wing Commander is popcorn trash and everyone knows it....
by Coughlins Laws
The Bourne movies are rare in that they were blockbusters that were universally praised by critics and fans. The Bourne Ultimatum was pretty much called one of the best action movies of the decade. It had multiple Oscar nominated and winning actors in it. The fact that you are acting like you are too cool to even give it a chance by watching it all the way through makes your opinions something not to be taken seriously...
Aug. 11, 2012, 4:53 p.m. CST
I actually forgot how damn good these movies were.
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