Over past decade, like millions of others I had become a fan of Jason Bourne movies, even though they liberally modified the original Robert Ludlum books. In fact, I liked them so much that I bought all three on DVD. So it was hardly surprising that last night (for the first time in a long while, mind you) I ended up at the local cineplex to watch The Bourne Legacy.
This was the movie where Jason Bourne played by Matt Damon gives way to a new star – Aaron Cross, played by Jeremy Renner. Damon had opted out of the Bourne series for multitude of reasons. Nevertheless, given that Chris Nolan had reinvented the Batman franchise and made its even better, I was excited to go see the Bourne’s legacy.
The movie, started off in a spectacular fashion and for about twenty minutes kept me on the edge of the seat. Aaron Cross battled the Alaskan cold, wolves and drone planes in a series of stunts and action shots, that while improbable, didn’t seem impossible. In other words, very Jason Bourne.
But what followed was couple of hours of mediocre, uninspired and tired movie making. It became clear that Matt Damon as Jason Bourne is what made the franchise, not the other way around. Renner seems like a competent enough actor but seemingly lacks the skills that inspire empathy with his character. (Or perhaps it is the fault of the director and scriptwriter.) The same goes for rest of the actors including the actress Rachel Weisz who like rest of the cast mails in a caricature of characters from the past three movies.
The Bourne Legacy was depressingly predictable in its story line – an agent being hunted down by his own government, him finding a damsel-in-distress to help him fight evil and the two of them running through some third world shanty town chased by an assassin and the cops.
Now if they had made this predictable fodder more exciting by using new cinematographic styles or used more inspired music score or interesting fight sequences and breath-stopping stunts, I would still put up with the tired meandering and and predictable script. Unfortunately, director Tony Gilroy failed spectacularly – which is curious considering that he was the screenwriter for the first three movies. He is no Paul Greengrass, who had directed the previous three Bourne movies.
What I find amazing is that there are professional reviewers who are giving it a A- or B+ kind of reviews. Metacritic is giving it 61 out of 100, with 22 positive, 14 mixed and only three negative reviews. As a casual movie goer (and not an expert in movie making) and a fan, I can never recommend this movie to a friend.
Here is the bottom-line: before this movie, I would watch any Bourne movie, no questions asked. No more. Bourne’s legacy means that I wouldn’t be standing in the queue on a Friday night to see the next version of the money.