December 14, 2012
Yes, there are convulsive blazes, chronic car chases, and one long über-paced bike race. Our hero survives them all. And falls in love on the way. What's new in The Bourne Legacy? Not much.
So get over it, suspend belief, and hop on board for the ride. Lead actor Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross can wrestle wolves, outrun drones, or motor his bike down banisters, all because he has been medicated with brain and muscle enhancing pills by an experimental underground wing of the U.S. spy industry.
Renner connects with Rachel Weisz as Dr. Marta Shearing who performs the medical miracles that he needs to survive. They vanquish foes, hook up and happily ride off into the sunset. (Fear not. These are not spoilers; the movie poster reveals just as much. They are Action Movie fundamentals. You buy the Blu-ray to see how they do it.)
The film is a Bourne Trilogy spin-off - that means no Matt Damon. Neither a prequel nor a sequel - more like a lateral-quel - the movie takes place as Damon's character (Jason Bourne) is fighting his own corrupt scoundrels down the hall in the last of the Trilogy films, The Bourne Ultimatum.
The cast and story are embellished by many talented talking heads, including Edward Norton, Oscar Isaac, Stacy Keach, Donna Murphy, Dennis Boutsikaris, Zeljko Ivanek, Albert Finney and David Strathairn.
Legacy was written by Tony Gilroy with his brother Dan. In fact, Tony has co-authored all four films in the Bourne franchise. This time he also directs the movie, similar to his Oscar-nominated duties on Michael Clayton.
While not promising to possess the Bourne birthright of smart and charismatic entertainment, The Bourne Legacy Blu-ray is a family flick (not the wee ones, please), and could satisfy an action hero fan's desire to share a holiday evening with kin or chums.
The Bonus Features were a turn-off. After enduring the lot of them, they soured the movie for me.
In one typical wanton gratuitous quote from the Extras, said producer Frank Marshall of Renner, "He is able to emote, to say things without words and that's pretty hard to do." (Mr. Marshall, that is what actors do and why you pay them.)
If you want to hear plenty more obsequious comments, pick any of the available Bonus offerings. The director and his boys' running annotations ape the self-adulatory speeches heard during our recent elections.
The Extras platform has evolved into a stage for chauvinistic good-old-white-boys to regale themselves, and has provided a forum for the me-me-me men of Hollywood to toot-toot-toot their own horns.
Lads, you cannot boast your way to an Oscar. This pic is no Academy winner.
There are, however, several semi-worthy segments that eclipse their smarmy commentary.
The three deleted scenes embellish the plot. Half of Albert Finney's recorded performance is among the scrubbed celluloid.
Another is the exposition of the wolf sequences covering the animatronics, the live animal performers, and their computer generated stand-ins: "Man versus Wolf" and "Wolf Sequence Test."
"Capturing the Chaos, the Motorbike Chase" explores in some detail the Manilan moto marathon where, to quote Renner, "(I) do things that have never been done on motorcycles." Really? Sez who?
Therein lies my beef and disbelief. The interminable macho self-congratulatory back slapping was grating.
And they cap it off with the patronizing compliment of Weisz who is riding on the rear of Renner's bike. "I was most worried about the safety of Rachel on the back," Renner states. And if that was not enough, a paternalistic producer, Patrick Crowley adds, "To see her on the back of a motorcycle, I'm real proud of her." Barf, barf.
Still, this behind-the-scene how-to is compulsory for insatiable buffs, fans and future filmmakers.
By the time I persevered through to the mid-movie commentary, I wished they had hired Oscar Isaac, who was revealed as Director Gilroy's almost-first-choice for Renner's role as Aaron Cross (Agent 5).
A smoldering Isaac trumps and transcends a frowning furrowed Renner any day.
(For proof, see Isaac co-star with Rachel Weisz in Alejandro Amenábar's 2009 Agora. And look for this Guatemalan Julliard graduate to perform in the up-coming movie, Inside Llewyn Davis. At least the Coen brothers and Amenábar have the cajones to provide him with decidedly deserved screen time.)
So as a Bonus junkie, I never thought I would have to say it, but to get the most fun from the flick, skip the Extras.
Studio: Universal Studios
Director: Tony Gilroy
Cast:Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach, Dennis Boutsikaris, Oscar Isaac with Joan Allen, Albert Finney, David Strathairn, Scott Glenn
Length: 135 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Dolby Digital 5.1
Dolby Digital 5.1
Dolby Digital 5.1
English SDH, French and Spanish