The Bourne Legacy

By Christopher Redmond

Mailed on August 10, 2012

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Dear Giuseppe Chisari
Character Rigger

Dear Giuseppe,

Well, well, look who they brought in to save the Bourne franchise. First you try to make us forget Arnold Schwarzenegger with a new Total Recall, and now you pull a fancypants switcheroo on Matt Damon. Nice try, Mr. "Character Rigger", but just because you're an expert at tampering with another writer's original creations doesn't mean I'll swallow whatever you're feeding me. I'm going to slowly, unevenly, and predictably rebel against your Hollywood mind-control program, and then give you a lot less action than expected.

How do you like them oranges?

The first part of The Bourne Legacy makes sure Jason The Forgetful Superspy is credited as the original problem with the government's top secret Treadstone program. Your next trick is to run sideways with the Bourne-iverse, having the events of The Bourne Ultimatum happen in tandem with the program's implosion in Legacy. It's like they say; you can take the Jason out of the Bourne movies, but you can't take the Bourne movies out of Jason. This part is well played.

The new story follows Aaron Cross, another chemically enhanced soldier, trying to avoid being wiped out when the head honchos decide to control-alt-delete their entire human experiment. But you, and they, should know that dealing with such volatile characters isn't easy. Yet you all tinker with these soldiers and spies like they're toys.

The most improbable behavioral twist is early on when a kill code prompts a genetic scientist to murder-suicide his whole crew at gunpoint. We've seen far too many of these real-life meltdowns recently in the news, but a pill induced instant mental flip still feels far fetched. True motivations and consequences are compelling. Magical science that co-opts true tragedy is just lazy.

Your biggest doctoring, of course, is recasting the lead with Jeremy Renner. Sure he plays a new character, but that's a creative technicality. The audience is buying into a brand, which means we expect certain patterns and palettes to be followed. Superficially you succeed. They're both blonde! On the other hand, Tony Gilroy (Bourne's ongoing series screenwriter) decided as director to mostly disregard Paul Greengrass' signature shaky-cam nausea and slow everything the hell down - but to the point you wonder if the cameraman fell asleep. Worse, there are no double-crosses, layered spy intrigue or compelling B-stories to compensate for this switch in style. Just more of the same cat-and-mouse chases and undercooked romances. Bourne's original mission of self-discovery is simply replaced with Ward's addiction to government pills. Adding a few smiles and quips just renders it a generic off-the-shelf offering we've seen before.

In other words, your elaborate attempts at faceting new characters based on the old prototypes feels wasted. There's nothing particularly wrong with The Bourne Legacy as an action/spy film, other than maybe an excessive runtime. But why water down the legacy?



P.S. I may not have looked up the actual definition of your job…

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