Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Bourne Legacy

It's unusual to find a move that is most engaging in its middle, with the beginning and ending dragging, but that's exactly the case with The Bourne Legacy.  Its mid-film action sequences--especially the shoot-out in the house--are the best parts of the film.  The sequence in the lab was one I found incredibly difficult to watch.  Though this could be in part to the recent mass shootings that have been making the news, it is also a credit to the director that it was, frankly, so frightening.

If only the final sequence could have lived up to the house sequence.  I am generally not critical of shaky-cam style film making; at times I find it very engaging and unlike many people I know, I rarely find it distracting.  In The Bourne Legacy, it was distracting.  The chase sequence was very hard to follow because the camera and editing choices moved everything so quickly that it didn't allow the audience to register the action.  I don't mind chaos in editing, but only if it's done for a reason--if the lead character is so disoriented that he or she can't figure out what's going on, it's a feasible choice for the editing to enhance that and leave the audience wondering, too.  This, however, wasn't the case with Bourne.  Instead, it just left the film feeling messy.

I will say, however, that I liked the casting quite a bit.  I have always enjoyed Rachel Weisz's performances, and unlike some action heroines, she plays a very convincing genius scientist.  Jeremy Renner was engaging even in scenes with no dialogue and no other actors.  Edward Norton was perhaps underused but infused his character with enough empathy that the audience could understand his motivations and justifications, even if we could not agree with them.

I have come to hold the Bourne movies to the standard of the best sequence out of the four movies--the tense, extended sequence with the reporter in the train station in The Bourne Ultimatum.  Sadly, nothing in Legacy came close.  It's a film of missed potential, though a good enough action movie for a summer afternoon.

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