Wednesday, August 15, 2012

RFTP: The Bourne Legacy

I've often wondered if reading advanced press about a film influences my interpretation of it; in this case it's hard to walk out of the theatre without saying it has 'cause if I hadn't read about Gilroy's getting called out by Damon over the last film I'd probably not read anything into what's going on here.

As it stands, the film has some good action but... dear god, it's a mess script wise, it essentially retreads the first film with a new character, the ending is anti-climactic, and you get the distinct feeling that elements of it are an open challenge to Greengrass and Damon to get back in the saddle - particularly a drastic reversal of fortunes facing a character from the last film who now finds themselves in dire straits in the closing seconds of this one for no justifiable reason other than a "please come rescue me!!!" plea given that they have no presence whatsoever in the rest of the film other than as an entirely off screen impetus for other characters behaviour.

I hope they were at least paid well.

So, this little piece of blackmail passing as a film ends up wasting a pretty good cast as it meanders between set pieces; the first 1/3 is all cuts between locations and scenes of people talking about things we already know, the middle third is the "our leads finally meet" section, and the last is almost entirely an insanely long chase sequence in Manilla. It's a film that's full of words but remarkably empty of content for being so. You get the feeling that Gilroy was more caught up in the politics of super-spies than introducing his own character because at the end of the movie Aaron Cross is not remotely defined clearly or changed from the person you meet 15 minutes into the film. And the ending... it's like something straight out of a 70's Bond flick; the very masthead whose tropes the first Bourne movie drove so far into the ground when it was released that the license was remodelled around Bourne's more "realistic" take when it was revived. Worse, it's basically all setup for more films and when writers forget that films are supposed to end is when you often end up unsatisfied because assumptions have been made that there will be sequels to answer everything they leave up in the air.

Note to writers everywhere: unless you're working on guaranteed a three movie license for Lord of the Rings; close your fucking film. Even then, each film should have a clean break point that feels satisfying with regards to "the story so far". That's just common sense and this film leaves so many balls up in the air at the end that they miss that by a mile even before the cheese is laid on thick.

If there's a 5th Bourne film with Renner, hopefully they hire someone to write and direct who can leave the office politics at the door - and I'm not talking about the CIA. I'd ask for a new set of producers too so we can have a fresh set of eyes across the board, but I suspect those contracts are tight...

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