Bourne again? Jeremy Renner and his green pills – Tony Gilroy’s legacy

Does it strike you as funny that of two films that are currently out at the cinema – one a remake, one a sequel of sorts – both are to do with memory loss?

I am, of course, talking about the Total Recall and the Bourne Legacy, the latter of which I saw recently and want to discuss.

First things first, I am a fan of Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz, the former for the Hurt Locker and The Town, and the latter for just being Mrs Daniel Craig. Seriously, there’s a lot of films which were significantly lifted by her presence; About a Boy, The Fountain, Enemy at the Gates, Runaway Jury and, yes, even The Mummy (seriously, she makes Brendan Fraser bearable).

In terms of the Bourne Legacy, Renner was solid as a spy, you believed he could do the things he did. Particularly his Alaska section, which reminded me slightly of Into the Wild, with Emile Hirsch, just with more explosions and less depressing deaths.  He fought like Bourne and was just as resourceful, however he just didn’t seem as accessible as Damon. Maybe it’s easier to identify with a man trying to regain his memory and make sense of his situation, whereas Renner’s Aaron Cross is in full possession of his memory, and is primarily trying to shake his dependency on drugs (which we’ll discuss more in a bit).

Perhaps in contrast to Cross’s cold, calm nature, Weisz is the emotional warmth of the film. Beautiful, intelligent, and a Doctor – I once read an article where she was voted the woman that men would most like to marry – too bad James Bond beat us to it!

As far as the link between this film and the preceding trilogy, the last two of which Paul Greengrass directed, you can see how they’ve tried to expand the world of shady goverment agencies with ‘assets’ placed across the globe in multiple, sinister programmes/experiments. It’s a nice link, but I don’t think it goes far enough.

jeremy renner and ed norton bournePerhaps too much time was spent on Renner’s character hanging out the in the wilderness, then racing across from the US to Manila in search of medication. I wonder if there would have been more mileage in exploring how Aaron Cross came to be in the programme? Treadstone or Blackbriar or whichever one he was in. This was touched on in the film, but it would have been very interesting to explore further.

There was a scene where he was all beaten up, with cuts all over his face, talking to some figure out of shot. Did he go through the same process as Bourne? Sticking with the memory theme could have been intriguing. The trick is to keep it grounded in the real world. Paul Greengrass did an excellent job of this, particularly with stunts and fight scenes.  I think, perhaps, Tony Gilroy let it become too ‘Hollywood’ and too detached. You got a sense that Bourne was always vulnerable. In contrast, Aaron Cross seemed too ‘action man’, holding his guns up to his chest, shooting round corners etc – too showy – like he could do almost anything, up to the point when he gets shot, then finally seems human. Let’s not forget, in the original trilogy Bourne kills someone with a biro, that’s realism!

I suppose what frustrated me was Bourne had a solid cause – recover his memory and expose Treadstone. Cross just didn’t seem to have a clear plan beyond wanting off his medication. There’s even a scene where says to Weisz’s character that if she doesnt know what to do next, he’ll find the next guy that does and ask him. It almost felt like script meetings Gilroy and his team must have had. Does someone know where this story is going beyond Cross getting off his medication? Will he go after Treadstone and the rest? Will he settle down with Weisz somewhere in Asia, only rousing himself to exact revenge after she gets murdered? No, wait, that’s the plot of the second film. Will the audience stick with us whilst we compare notes?

Perhaps I am being too harsh. Greengrass and Damon set the bar extremely high with Ultimatum and Supremacy. So much so that you only notice when the next Director comes along and tries to pick up the baton. In some ways I hope they get another crack at it, but it really needs a firm direction and killer script. Now Cross is off his medication, what next? Would it be the ultimate if Greengrass and Damon returned and teamed up with Renner? The ultimate Ultimatum if you will. Is that Gilroy’s hope? Like an Avengers film, but set in the Bourne world, hmmm.

Anyway, I’ve written more than I intended and my imagination is getting carried away as usual. What do you guys think of Bourne Legacy? Is it worthy of a follow up film? Or two? Should Gilroy try and get Greengrass back in the driving seat? Would Damon and Renner make a good team? So many questions. Right, where did I put my green pills…

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