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The Bourne Legacy

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Dec 11, 2012
The Bourne Legacy

The makers of the Bourne films have found a novel way to squeeze a bit more juice from the franchise: Get the writer of the three Matt Damon-starring movies to forge a contemporaneous fourth film that unfolds alongside the third installment in the original trilogy and hire Jeremy Renner to play a similar super-soldier.

Renner plays Aaron Cross in "The Bourne Legacy," a film that's aptly named seeing as how it's the actions of Damon's character, Jason Bourne, that kick start the action here. Worried that Bourne's rogue conduct will shine a light on a number of covert intelligence programs, super-goon Eric Byer (Edward Norton) decides to terminate a project called Blackbriar, which creates genetically enhanced agents. This means killing off all of the Blackbriar operatives, as well as the scientists who service the program.

But one super-soldier survives: Cross, who has been training in the Alaskan wilderness, dodges a missile and several drones sent his way. In need of the medicine that maintains his super-soldier mind and body, Cross rescues the last surviving Blackbriar scientist, Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), and then faces off with a killer sent by upper management to eradicate him.

"The Bourne Legacy" is a glossy, stylishly made film that fits neatly into its genre by offering all the requisite beats and props: Hunky troubled man, beautiful female sidekick, budding romance, and flying bullets (not to mention flying bodies, cars, and debris), all overseen by shadowy, remorseless government baddies. A motorcycle chase scene through the streets of Manila is the film's centerpiece, and it's a beautifully edited doozie.

In fact, the chase scene warrants its own special feature on the DVD/Blu-ray Combo Pack edition. Other special features on the DVD include a short featurette on the choice to bring writer Tony Gilroy on board not only to write this fourth installment, but also direct; Gilroy breaks down his creative decisions for us and points out how clever the idea is to launch into this new direction by making the film's plot a direct consequence of events in "The Bourne Ultimatum."

There are three deleted scenes that one could wish had been kept in place for the final version of the film; in one, Albert Finney gives his "Bourne" franchise character a poignant swan song. There's also a commentary track in which a number of people associated with the film talk excitedly; what they're saying is sometimes juicy and sometimes not, but their enthusiasm is infectious.

The Blu-ray disc offers a clutch of special features not included on the standard DVD, including a featurette on the scenes that pit Cross against a wolf pack, a featurette that examines Cross as a character, a featurette celebrating the film's international scope, and more.

It's practically inevitable that there will be still more sequels, and they will star Renner. No doubt they will follow the same schematic that all the Bourne films rely on. When it comes to cinematic action-adventure comfort food, the Bourne series has always been a notch above most of what the genre has to offer; "The Bourne Legacy" carries on in the same sleek, smart tradition.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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