Movie review: The Bourne Legacy

August 12, 2012 – I once read that the reason your pulse quickens and your stress level rises during an intense movie is because your brain believes what you’re watching is actually happening to you.

Those who enjoy that intense adrenalin rush should visit their local cinema and take in “The Bourne Legacy”. Those who enjoy a compelling spy thriller may want to stick to the Bourne books by Robert Ludlum, or at least the first three movies of the acclaimed series.

While it’s not the type of movie I typically rush to see, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy “The Bourne Legacy” taken on its own. It was an adventurous ride for the two hours and fifteen minutes it played out on screen, and I was never bored, but it didn’t have the same impact as the previous films.

That’s not to say there weren’t some positives. Set in stunning locations, the film takes us from the Alaskan wilderness to the Philippines, as we encounter new hero Aaron Cross played effectively by Jeremy Renner, and Dr. Marta Shearing played by the equally talented Rachael Weisz. Both characters are likeable enough to root for as they fight off the CIA agents who want to eliminate them with Jason Bourne style.

The story stands on its own, with many references to the prior Bourne movies. Writer/director Tony Gilroy (who also wrote the other Bourne screenplays) does a different take on the characters created by Robert Ludlum with the introduction of his new hero. Bourne isn’t actually a character in this installment, unless you count the times he is mentioned, or the photos of the character as played by Matt Damon that appear in several scenes.

The action sequences are pretty spectacular, although I don’t consider myself an expert in these matters because I rarely see films of this genre. However the main characters are believable and entertaining, and the supporting cast is made up of an impressive list of actors, including Edward Norton, Stacy Keach, Albert Finney and Joan Allen.

The biggest negative is that “The Bourne Legacy” strayed so far from it’s original premise, and those that are huge Bourne fans may be disappointed.

The best action movie I’ve seen, which serves as my gage for other action movies, is “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. “The Bourne Legacy” isn’t quite in that category, but it is better than average. Now that a legacy has begun, and depending on box office success, we’re sure to see other characters like this, or even Aaron Cross again in the near future.

Rated PG-13, “The Bourne Legacy” avoided the R rating normally attached to high action films, and while it can be violent at times, it isn’t overly gory and I didn’t have to look away once. And I can’t swear to this, but I don’t think I heard any off-color word in the entire movie. That might be the biggest surprise of all.

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