Film: "The Bourne Legacy"; Actors: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton; Director: Tony Gilroy; Rating: ***
With a star-laced film being no criteria for success and cinema viewers going fickle to like anything (in the view of studio bosses), the need to continue something that audiences have liked in the past is reaching desperate proportions.
This has led to long franchises and slick rebooting of the old in a desperate attempt to create something new. "The Bourne Legacy" is one of the interesting ways to spruce up a franchise. Though it doesn't succeed completely with some key elements of the "Bourne" universe missing, it would be good enough for fans.
Jason Bourne was part of a top-secret government project. Turns out he was not the only one and after an intelligence failure, as the US government is shutting down the project which is killing every soldier in the project, one of them, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) escapes.
He teams up with the doctor (Rachel Weisz), who used to administer performance-enhancing medications even as the US government tries to hunt him down.
The original "Bourne" series was exciting because Bourne was an assassin trying to find himself. He was a man of conscience who had killed a guy he knew he shouldn't have. Amnesia and conscience had made a potent mix there.
Though this part does try to build these two elements up, the attempt lacks lustre. Aaron is only trying to find himself and not remember himself. And secondly, the bit about him having developed a conscience is so poorly developed that this one small flaw takes the sting out of the film.
Thus you don't feel as much pull as you did in the "Bourne" series because the emotional base is not built well enough. Perhaps the writers thought it was imperative not to repeat it. But isn't a reboot about repeating things as much as possible, only a little smartly?
On the other hand, they have indeed worked extra hard to keep other elements from the original series. Aaron is thus as much of a quick thinker and doer as Bourne was and is a good fighter and evader of authorities. There are some good chase sequences as well. The actors live up to the expectations.
What's missing are some more hand-to-hand fights and a shaky camera, two staple elements of the original series. The camera here is too steady, and the close-ups during the fights too close for comfort.
Yet, the theme of a powerful and power hungry nation creating monsters of mass destruction to control the world to their own advantage, and then unable to cope when just one backfires, is strong enough.
It is hence sad that US foreign policy is not dictated by these filmmakers who seem to understand that it is not nice to attack and control other countries. Instead it is dictated by war mongers who play the world as if it's a chess board, making it a much dangerous place for everyone.
Perhaps like Bourne and Aaron, these politicians need to remember that their country is based on fairness and justice and also need to imagine what they can be.
From a muddy, violent past, US can emerge to a truly bright future, like Bourne does in his series and like Aaron will too, three or four films later.