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'Bourne Legacy' reveals new additions to elite force (VIDEO)

Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is stranded in the Alaskan wilderness. He is low on food, surrounded by wolves and he has lost his meds. That’s not good. He needs his meds. Bad stuff happens when he doesn’t take his meds.

The Bourne Legacy, released August 10th, is the fourth film in the Bourne series and runs concurrently with 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum.

What we soon find out that Cross is a secret agent. We also find out that Cross is in the same program as Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), who appears only in still images.

Jason Bourne is going on a rampage in Manhattan. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has decided that “The Program”, an elite force of secret agents that Bourne was once a part of, needs to be shut down by the only means the CIA knows how; kill everyone associated with it.

Aaron Cross is one of these people. After an intense chase through backwoods Alaska, he ends up catching a plane to Washington, D.C., where he meets up with Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), the only survivor of a massive shootout at a government lab. Cross brings up the fact that he hasn’t taken his medication in two days. As it turns out, the medication is what keeps his body functioning. If he doesn’t have medicine in his system, things can go truly, deeply wrong. Luckily for him, Shearing knows where the medicine is manufactured. The bad news is, it’s manufactured in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, a group of high level government employees try as hard as they can to eliminate Cross and Shearing. After all, they could spill one of the biggest secrets the CIA is keeping from the press and cause it all to go viral. They cannot let the people know what they are doing.

Walking out of Legacy, I was almost instantly conflicted. On one hand, I really enjoyed the story it was trying to tell. I liked Renner’s portrayal of this secret agent gone rouge, and when we find out why he enlisted in the program, it all feels very real. I also quite enjoyed Edward Norton as the movie’s evil government agent who makes every decision for the betterment of himself and his colleagues.

On the other hand, I didn’t quite appreciate the way it was all paced. The story is told in a very disjointed, almost incoherent way. This largely has to do with the film’s running time. Even though it was 135 minutes long, the movie is so packed with content that it leaves very little room to breathe. The film would have benefited from a less crammed story, and a significantly shorter running time; 115 minutes at the most.

However, as I said, I really enjoyed the storyline. Despite getting off to a bit of a rough start (it took me about 20 minutes to understand what was going on), the twisty nature of the plot fit the spy-on-the-run premise, and I found myself thoroughly entertained by it all. If only the movie had a more steady hand in the directing chair, it would have been better.

Except it did have a steady hand in the directing chair. Director Tony Gilroy, directed Michael Clayton, one of my all time favorite political thrillers. It feels almost as if Gilroy wasn’t comfortable with something that had the scope of a Bourne movie, and decided to play it as safe as he could.

Gilroy does, however, know how to shoot actors, giving them enough space to really get into their characters. This approach pays off exceptionally in the case of Renner, who turns in a terrific performance as Aaron Cross. He plays the character as almost a wide-eyed innocent. You can tell, from the get-go, that he didn’t always want to be a secret agent. The way that works Cross’ motives into the plot is one of the better parts of the film.

The last thing to talk about are the action scenes, the majority of which are fun, slick little fight/chase scenes. They are shot with an attention to detail that helps sell them as realistic.

And then, the final chase scene happens, which completely destroys the notion of believable in favor of a big budget, highly choreographed motorcycle chase. This scene is completely tone-deaf to the rest of the movie, and should have been replaced with something a bit more grounded.

All in all, I walked out of The Bourne Legacy half disappointed. It ends in a way that sets up a sequel, but I’m not sure that I want one. I could recommend this film to any fan of the Bourne series, but I would have to give them a laundry list of problems when I did.

The Bourne Legacy runs at 135 minutes, is rated PG-13 for violence and action sequences, and is playing at most local theaters.

For more film reviews, read the May 7 article, ‘The Avengers’ captures Marvel superhero legacy.

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