Monday, August 27, 2012

A Review: The Bourne Legacy

"Who the hell is he?!"
Yes. Just who in the hell is Aaron Cross? Why is he a white man, with medium build, short brown hair and hard stare? Because this is America, we're assholes and these are our heroes? An international agency with global operatives and this is the best we can come up with to separate ourselves from Jason Bourne? And why is he towing around a white brunette who looks scared and needs saving again? (Sans Euro-accent, points for that) Why, did the man who crafted the scripts for first three films, feel the need to keep the two new leads so close to the formula of the original trilogy?

Why not Idris Elba and Penelope Cruiz? Or Adrien Brody and Kerry Washington? Joseph Gordan-Levitt and Kate Mara or a Christina Hendricks type? (Reaching, maybe, but it's not entirely stupid) Just, totally new and fresh faces, anyone else but these two--as great a pair of performers as they are with film legacies and history behind them set. And that's not the point of these opening paragraphs either. Their fine, but not for material that needs distance from it's predecessor literally in need of a face-lift.

Lord knows after Clayton, Gilory has his pick of actors. How do you think he got Edward Norton and Rachel Weisz in this picture?

But, with that being said, were you thinking that I was about to make a case against the film? Because, I'm willing to sound like a boarder-trekking hypocrite to give you my quite-the-opposite thoughts on this film. And guess fuckin' what? It was as good as I was hoping it would be. I enjoyed very much seeing Tony Gilroy to taking the reins after taking the shit through the franchise between Greengrass and Liman, screwing with all the work he put into the stories as the writer behind them.

To tell you now, Aaron Cross, was as I understood--an idiot. A simpleton grunt in the Army. No better than the boots he put on overseas. But for reasons unknown, or maybe the obvious ones of what the drugs could really do--he was selected for the Outcome Program. A shared intelligence and clandestine operation coupled together secretly with Treadstone and Blackbriar.

I get the sense this accurately reflects how fast our very own government in reality makes changes, tweaks, upgrades and sidegrades. And also, how fast both fictional and factual governments can burn something down and cover their tracks. It was almost scary to a certain degree watching Gilroy conduct his own version of how swiftly and grand American intelligence can act when it wants to.

The drugs I just referred to quite simply enhance--to 1.5%--the physicality of person, mitochondrial proteins and targeting to be more precise. The other part of the dual dosage is that it enhances one's own mental processes and neural capabilities, higher brain functions, processing power, pain-suppression, sensory function and adaptations.

So, you essentially go from a V.6 to a V.10 and Dual-Core to a I-7 Generation 3 processor. Nice.

After Bourne and Pamala Landy expose Blackbriar and Treadstone from Ultimatum (events that are still on-going in this film), government higher-ups scramble to get things in order. So naturally, they start shredding all the evidence and plan on resetting the Outcome Program for a later date. Which means, all those agents will be terminated. 1 by 1 all  the members meet their demises. Eric Byer heads that up, making the decision to pack away Outcome for now and loose the agents for it.

Getting a lucky break, Cross survives the first attempt and makes damn sure the second one fails, involving a wolf in the most interesting and daring manner I might have seen. He eventually gets involved with Dr. Marta Shearing the nurse that treated him, giving the operatives the treatments and physicals, delivering doses and conducts tests and check-ups. Together, they run from the G-man, to stay alive and not end up, dead, I dunno, Not get fucking dead. Not much different from last time.

As you can see here ladies and gentleman my patience wears a little thin with that. Too bad real inspiration went out the window. Does this have to a be a summer blockbuster? Couldn't they have gone a little smaller, a little slower, cat n mouse it up? Borrow from Grismon and Baldacci's better fiction. Not even Sandford? No? Same old? Okay. Just checking.

I've seen and read Gilroy talk about how this is "fresh" and has "a fire inside." Welp, dunno about that dear old Tony. But, forgetting the fact that a white man and woman are on the run from the American government and need to stay alive, I think I had a damn good time. Gilroy has an ear for interesting phraseology and back n forth dialogue. Building a tension and a spreading it out over the movie was another piece I enjoyed. Never slows to a crawl, never speeds to a rocket. Almost, both ways, which I liked.

Like the opening. Bearded, clothed and dropped into the middle of bumfuck Alaska. Aaron Cross went rogue for 4 days and then gets, punished, he says. After trekking through mountains, jumping, treading and fighting wolves, he meets with a contact in a cabin. This doesn't happen in two minutes either, it takes it's time. Showing what Aaron is capable of out there.

There we see Aaron is no Jason, and even likes to smile and chit-chat to pass the time. His contact was played by Oscar Isaac, I wanted more of his story, pitched out into the wilderness because he fell in love, and that's a risk-game in their business. That's a story in itself that could have mixed well with Cross', and Isaac has the chops to show us. Too bad. But we saw the easy-going guy Aaron can be when it's not necessary to run like the dickens. And easy-going charm is some of the best traits Renner as an actor, and does it well. I got the sense he was some regular old Joe in his former life. It's almost a story in it's own how came to be Aaron Cross from Kenneth Kitsom, and the missions he was sent on before this film.

As Eric Byer, Norton commands the rooms, teams and underlings he has at his disposal just the way a man with his pay-grade should. His shiny and well pressed shirts reflect this, as does his grayed hair. A dye job, or the real thing? You tell me. He takes nothing, form no one and knows his way around the room, and how to clean up properly. I was half expecting him to whip out yellow rubber gloves and scream, "Like this you idiots!" And start mopping the floor. And certainly not for nothing, Keach as "Important Government Dude" and the one working closely with Byer, had some one of the best little speeches in the film.

Weisz's character had very little else to do or say that was interesting, side-stepping any chance for a layer of Dr. Marta Shearing that wasn't either freaking out, explaining science with slight panic, getting scared, or looking worried. So, with a world class actress your disposal, Weisz makes us believe all three of those things with no problems. Great Rach. Thanks Tone.

I won't be saying whether or not they kiss, bang, or get romantic at all. But I'll tell you that given the material, and the path Gilroy set the two of them on, I bought their chemistry and believed them easier then last time around with the other two. Thank God they didn't play Moby at the end again. Oh wait, fuck, they did. . . Damn, looks like it's the running trope now, huh?

Welp, be that as it may, I still thoroughly enjoyed this, albeit all my shit aside. I'm a sucker for well-crafted and executed spy-game, trade-craft cinema. So, how do you feel about seeing this, now that you've read, excitement and praise mixed with stark disappointment?

Munki out. 

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