The Bourne Legacy Review
I have only seen The Bourne Identity out of the prior Bourne films, which was a while back. I might not have even been a teenager, so my memory is a bit foggy. So while watching this film, I had no choice but to view it as a standalone, as I suppose it was meant to be. I'm used to watching series installments as standalones, which in a sense I can do if I've already seen the other films because my mind fills in the blanks without realizing it. This time was different, as the film looked to be intended as a standalone, but when I actually watched it in isolation from the rest of the series by actually not watching the other films, it didn't feel that way. Legacy felt as if it was picking up after another film and was taking place within a larger context, all the while building up for something else, presumably the next Bourne film where Matt Damon reappears, which is dependent on if the money is right.
There were frequent references to Jason Bourne that helped put the film in context, but it all flew by so quickly, and it ultimately relied on the assumption that most audience members already knew everything about him. I took no pleasure in listening as hard as I could to make sure I didn't miss something, but I did enjoy the role of the character who gave the exposition, played by Edward Norton. He's the primary antagonist in the film who wants to make sure that every trace of the superspy program is erased, and it was cool that he and the protagonist, Aaron Cross, never met. Yet it feels that these two characters are competing head-to-head as the viewpoint switches between protagonist and antagonist as the latter hunts him down with surveillance technology.
Technically, there wasn't anything wrong with the movie's plot. It was a solid plot. The government needed to cover up for internationally illegal activities that it came to regret. The science fiction was realistic, too. This is the first film I've seen that didn't treat artificial mutation as a technology that could cause someone to instantly grow wings or superpowers. A change to someone's genes won't cause his anatomy to change. It would most likely cause cancer. In Legacy, the scientists cause mutations that only alter people on a cellular level. I believe the main difference between a superspy and a normal human was the functional capacity of the mitochondria.
No, there was nothing wrong with the plot. Although it covers a rather empty story. Maybe it would make more sense within the context of the other films, although I watched it with my godfather, and he said that to him it was a standalone. Right. Personally, Terminator 2 was a far better standalone series installment than this.
The other failure was the main character. There wasn't really anything special about Aaron Cross. He had enhanced genes, but there was nothing that made him stand out compared to other protagonists I've seen. He had the personality of an action hero, and that was about it. I'm not interested in seeing more of him unless he had another superspy to bounce off of, because on his own he just sucks. Even when he has a beautiful female companion (named Marta, which I should have remembered since it's both unusual and the name of a close relative, but she simply wasn't memorable enough and I had to look it up) who demonstrates strength and vulnerability at the same time, he's bland, because she's mostly just the load who justifies her existance with a few helpful skills. After putting up with him over the course of the film, he developed into little more than a convenient vessel for fight scenes that his status as a superspy necessitated.
The Bourne Legacy technically functions as a standalone, but there's a big hole in the narrative that can only be filled by its predecessors. Experiences all on itself, it has all the right details on the surface, but even though you can't see the inside you can feel that it's hollow. It was a technically solid film, but it didn't dare make an impression.