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Non-Review Review: The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Legacy is the kind of trick you only get to pull once. It’s an interesting narrative experiment, but it doesn’t really work as its own movie. It almost feels, at times, like a deleted subplot from the second two films in the trilogy, removed and expanded to fill two-hours-and-a-half. It’s certainly an interesting idea, and it’s a clever way of skirting the issues created by Matt Damon’s refusal to return, but the problem is that The Bourne Legacy never feels like it is entirely its own film. While it features two characters who have their own arc, the overall plot plays out according to storybeats that are happening off screen – in another story with another agent. It’s a fascinating take on the summer blockbuster, but I’m not convinced it’s an entirely successful one.

Bourne again?

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Bourne Legacy: A Look Inside the Story…

Have to admit, I’m quite curious to see how The Bourne Legacy plays out. It’s being released in the States on Friday and here next Monday. I’ve written before about how the structure of the film intrigues me, and Universal Pictures Ireland just sent over this behind-the-scenes look at the film. Enjoy. And if any international readers get a chance to see this before I do, let me know what you thought. (No spoilers, please!)

You can also win some Bourne-related goodies here, with thanks to Universal.

Win! Bourne Legacy T-Shirts!

Courtesy of our friends at Universal Pictures Ireland, we have five T-shirts to give away to celebrate the release of The Bourne Legacy on 13th August 2012. The film is the fourth in the “Bourne” series, and sees Jeremy Renner starring as another Treadstone agent dealing with the consequences of Jason Bourne’s activity. It’s being directed by Tony Gilroy, who directed Michael Clayton and wrote all three Bourne films, and it has one heck of a cast assembled. It looks to be a very interesting take on the story – rather than trying to carry on or continue the story from the first three, it looks like The Bourne Legacy takes place “around” those films, its own narrative that overlaps and intercepts at points.

Thanks to Universal Pictures Ireland, we have five T-shirts to give away for the film. To enter the competition, just fill in the form below.

Click to enlarge…

Note: All entrants must be based in the Republic of Ireland. You must provide a valid address and phone number so that you can be contacted if you win. Your details will not be used for any other purpose.

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New Bourne Legacy Trailer

Hey, here’s the new trailer for The Bourne Legacy. It’s the latest film in the Bourne series (the original trilogy consisting of The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremecy and The Bourne Ultimatum). Matt Damon isn’t returning, but the new film will focus on Jeremy Renner, who seems to be having quite a year. The supporting cast is suitably impressive, with David Strathairn, Joan Allen, Albert Finney and Scott Glenn all returning – while adding Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz and Oscar Isaac. (Personally, I’m also actually quite geeked to see Stacey Keach, Željko Ivanek and Corey Stoll playing supporting roles as well.)

Hope you enjoy.

I have to say, I’m intrigued at the approach they’re taking – it looks like this film is being structured as a sort of a “side-quel” to the Bourne series, exploring events from another angle. While it’s very clearly an attempt to get the “Bourne” brand out there, I think it’s a pretty cool way of playing with narrative – it seems structured more intricately than a simple reboot, sequel, prequel or remake.

One of the things I’ve found really fascinating about 2012 as a year in mainstream cinema is the way that the studios have been playing with narrative links. Prometheus wasn’t a direct prequel to Alien, more like a spiritual predecessor. The Avengers isn’t a direct sequel to any of the Marvel films, but rather a composite of story threads flowing from each one. I know people decry the rise of franchise cinema (as if that’s something new), but I thing there’s some interesting stuff going on here. I don’t know quite how it’ll work out, but I am intrigued by the approach.

Non-Review Review: The Bourne Supremacy

I have to admit that The Bourne Supremacy is the strongest of the Bourne films for me, even though fans of the series tend to forget it, snuggled as it is between The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Ultimatum. The middle part of the trilogy is undoubtedly the most straight-forward, but that isn’t a weakness – it contains a well-motivated character arc for the character of Bourne while handling the themes of the series remarkably well, and still paying homage to all the plot devices that one associates with the espionage thriller. It isn’t preoccupied with setting anything in motion, nor in wrapping anything up, but that gives the movie much more freedom than the two that surround it.

Nobody said it would be a walk in the car park...

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Make This Movie: To The Manor Bourne…

We’re looking at the Bourne trilogy this week, with a review of The Bourne Identity today and one of the The Bourne Supremecy on Thursday, so I thought I’d post this nifty little bit of movie fun from The Guardian. They ran a competition for a Twitter pitch, pitching a movie in 150 characters or less, about a month ago. This was the winning entry:

To the Manor Bourne: Jason Bourne retires to the countryside. With violent consequences

And the poster…

Click to enlarge

I say scrap this Bourne Legacy stuff and just make this.

Non-Review Review: The Bourne Identity

It’s strange to look back on The Bourne Identity, knowing that it kick-started one of the most highly-regarded trilogies in cinematic history. I must confess that I was never excessively enamoured with the espionage thriller – I quite enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it. Though my favourite movie of the “Bourne” trilogy is The Bourne Supremacy, regarded as something of an ugly step-child of the franchise, so what do I know?

Bourne's just hanging out...

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Non-Review Review: The Bourne Ultimatum

Sitting down for the bi-weekly movie, we flicked through the channels and couldn’t find anything really good on that we hadn’t seen. We decided to watch The Bourne Ultimatum in High Def. It counts as a new viewing experience if it’s in HD, right?

Watching it, I was stunned at how much of the movie I’d forgotten since the first time I saw it. That’s not to say the movie is crap, it’s just the cinematic equivalent of junk food: quick, easy, tasty if you don’t think too hard about it, not particularly filling. Watching it as though for the first time, I was blown away by the set pieces: a tense siege at Waterloo station, a chase through Morocco and the finale car chase through New York. The film does these astonishingly well, tying together fancy stuntwork, a pulsating soundtrack and just the perfect amount of cutting (not too much, not too little). As action movies go, it is a very, very good example and comes highly recommended.

The only complaint lies in the overly complicated attempt at plot. As ever, our erstwhile secret-agent-cum-fugitive Jason Bourne is trying to piece together his past. The film is well-constructed as part of a trilogy (tying up loose ends and picking up in the midst of the action), but new viewers may be a bit lost. As a conclusion to the saga, it’s a little mediocre and simplistic, but that is arguably a claim that could be made of the series as a whole.

Even the final revelation about Bourne’s recruitment in Blackbriar doesn’t add a necessary shade of grey to the proceedings. The bumbling CIA-types, though played by Oscar-nominated actors, are never embued with any sense of depth or character – the film instead seems intent to portray its antagonists as power-mad bureaucrats, without an etching of genuine conviction or belief. Of course, this was present in the other two films, but maybe Chris Cooper and Brian Cox were better at shading than this film’s ensemble. Of course, this is a film where the good guy reads The Guardian.

In short, it doesn’t feel like Bourne has travelled particularly far in the span of three films, nor has he answered his own existentialist questions. He now knows his name before he entered the scheme, but he knows little of who he really was. All he’s really done is seemingly gut the middle management of America’s chief intelligence bureau.

The cast make the most of the roles. Any humanity in Bourne is brought to the fore by Matt Damon, who manages to do that despite a relatively small amount of dialogue (he’s a man of actions, not words, dammit). Joan Allen is, as ever, fantastic with a relatively light role. Albert Finney glowers impressively, Scott Glenn seems constantly disappointed and David Staithairn is a little self-righteous while out of his depth. No member of the cast plays outside their comfort zones. Not that any performer is weak, just that no one (with the possible exception of Damon) stands out.

It’s entertaining, fantastically staged and pounding. The story is too crude and simplistic to reach the depths it seems to seek. Taken as it is – a rip-roaring action adventure with amazing setpieces – it works wonderfully. Those looking for a subtle examination of the American intelligence-gathering community in anything but black-and-white terms will be disappointed.

All in all, better overall than The Bourne Identity, but weaker than The Bourne Supremecy.


The Bourne Ultimatum is the third part of a trilogy following the adventures of amnesiac spy Jason Bourne. It is directed by Paul Greengrass (Bloody Sunday) and features an ensemble of Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, Dogma, The Good Sheppard), Joan Allen (Face/Off, Nixon), David Staithairn (Good Night and Good Luck), Albert Finney (Erin Brokovich, Miller’s Crossing) and Scott Glenn (Silence of the Lambs, W.). It was released in the United States on 3rd August 2007 and in the UK and Ireland on 17th August 2007.