Yes, I know this is late. I know everyone and her sister has either already seen this or chosen to let it pass them by, but after my third viewing I feel there is something more to this film than a quick scan. Oh yes, dear reader - it’s about to be subjected to one of my traditional 3 heading reviews. Brace yourselves - this one’s a never-ending study in over-thinking and over-analysing. Or maybe the film is just deeper than your average action flick.
We’ll find out as we play Review the Movie!
Here be SPOILERS for The Bourne Legacy!
First off, we have how it all slots right into the events of the original three Bourne movies. It’s cleverly interspersed with mentions, occurrences, themes of the Matt Damon trilogy. Of course everything’s connected - it’s called The Bourne Legacy after all; everything that happened was because of everything Jason Bourne set in motion. Was I bothered that Jason himself was not in the movie? Not at all. I knew before I bought the cinema ticket that it was a LEGACY, not a team-up or spin-off with the hero popping in to pass the torch to the new bloke. I neither expected nor required Jason to appear.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy tells the story of those around the book to tell the story of the book itself, so The Bourne Legacy tells the story of those around Aaron Cross to tell the story of his hand. Yes, it’s all about his hand. See for yourself; it’s out in the cold in Alaska, it’s taking blood samples for his programme kit up a mountain - and then the fun starts. We see it injured in a flashback, and later his doctor is holding it and saying it’s healed well. Later he’s on a plane and he rubs the old injury - but he’s looking at the now rescued / rescuing doctor across the plane as he does it. Is he thinking about her and the thirteen times she’s examined him and touched that hand? Later she’s about to viral him off the last of his medication and he uses the hand to hold hers, to reassure her that she’s doing the right thing. Still later she needs moral support on the back of a motorbike and it’s his hand she grips. After they shed the bike she hangs onto his hand like a lifeline - but who is saving who? His hand started out as an appendage used for violence and dirty deeds and turned into a missionary of aid and comfort.
Aaron himself killed in his job and it bothered him (Byer [Edward Norton]’s flashback, as he instructs him on the way of a sin-eater) and he’s slowly been getting real tired of CIA shit - but when they try to kill him it’s over and he’s certainly not crying over that. He adapts, he rolls with it, in a way that ensures his continued survival and removes any connection to the programme.
borderline intelligence deficiency or, nowadays, possessing a ‘mild disability’. No wonder Kenneth really wanted to stay at the facility. (The test the US Army actually uses is more for adaptability and aptitude for military work.) Whatever the testing process was called and how he was treated, Kenneth Kitsom went from a simple, optimistic, helpful sort who couldn’t hope to grasp the complexities of the programme, to Aaron Cross, someone capable of instant judgement calls and James Bond thinking-on-his-feet out in the field. He gained probably fifty IQ points but he lost a lot. One thing he appears to have kept is his need to reach out to people and learn about them, befriend them, have a conversation with a fellow citizen of the Earth. It doesn’t have to be a doctor, or another Outcome agent - I get the feeling it could be a Russian taxi driver, a Saudi businessman, a Thai street vendor, the woman carrying her shopping home. The way his personality comes across as he questions others around him makes me think he simply wants to explore, to find some common ground with someone, anyone, now that he has the vocabulary and extra cognitive ability to do so. After all, what was the programme for if not to make him better than he was? Still emotionally vulnerable but in charge, still that same cheerful, helpful soul - when he meets Outcome #3 he tries to make friends, albeit in a way that gets him more answers, and he seems to hedging his bets in case #3 is actually supposed to be evaluating or killing him. “Aren’t we programmed to stick our noses in?” he asks. But is he referring to people on the programme or humans in general? He’s become so much more than he was. Smarter, yes. Faster at thinking and able to see the bigger picture, certainly. But he’s still the lonely man he was before he was put on the programme, still the loner wanting to connect with someone. And if it could be with someone not trying to kill him? Even better.
A word or few hundred has to be said about the actors in this tale. Back-up faces and support characters were marvellous; Edward Norton never disappoints, but even characters that were peripheral seemed real. The way the film came over was very down-to-Earth, very lacking in hype and sensationalism.
Skyfall again (yes, it was pretty good. No, not as good as Casino Royale, for me), but The Bourne Legacy is definitely going on my blu-ray shelf.
Wow. I did warn it would be long. Anyway, that’s pretty much all the review that’s fit to print.