Sidewinder’s View: “The Bourne Legacy” (2012)

I realize I’m a bit late catching up with this one, by four-and-a-half years, but what the hell.

bourne-legacy

Legacy wasn’t as entertaining as The Bourne Identity, but it’s a definite improvement over Supremacy and Ultimatum, both of which I was barely able to finish, due to the negligible, wildly overrated Action filmmaking skills of Paul Greengrass and an increasingly tired central premise.

I still enjoy Doug Liman’s 2002 picture, though, because at least you can clearly see and follow that film’s action.

Compared to Liman’s smooth, fluidly choreographed approach, a million cuts’ worth of chaotic, blurry confusion, a la Greengrass, is a poor substitute.

Look, I disliked this kind of haphazard, sloppy visual garbage back in the Nineties when Michael Bay did it. Just because Greengrass has loftier political notions doesn’t mean he gets a pass. Not in my book.

I haven’t seen the latest Matt Damon installment, from 2016, and likely won’t. See, Mr. Damon’s quite vocal about his anti-gun views, yet he continually appears in Action movies where his heroic characters use firearms, often in really cool ways, to survive attacks from all sorts of nasty villains. Damon can be a hypocrite and have it both ways if he wants– it’s helped make him a multi-millionaire, so what the hell, more power to him– but I won’t contribute to his box office.

Matt Damon Gun Grabber Full Text WM

Anyway, back to The Bourne Legacy. Great action and suspense, but, at the heart of it, the movie’s about little more than a very determined pill-popper eager to replenish his supply of drugs before it runs out…which will cause his drug-enhanced IQ to drop well below the average IQ level.

See, when the dude was first recruited for the Army, his recruiter, eager to meet a quota, added points to the dummy’s actual, room-temperature IQ in order to get him in. Recruiters do that all the time, don’t ya know. After all, who’d be more knowledgeable about Army recruiting than liberal Hollywood screenwriters?

“Whattya talkin’ about, Kneejerk? We know the truth! We’ve seen Private Benjamin!”

Now, said dummy managed to survive basic training and, it would appear, combat in Iraq, before being recruited into the CIA’s “super-spy” program, but the way the character’s dilemma’s set up, I half-expected the movie to degenerate into The Bourne Dumb & Dumber Legacy if the guy’s “chems” (super-spy meds) wore off completely.

My question is, why did the character have to be set up as having been really dimwitted, pre-chem-enhancement, as opposed to being a GI of average IQ? As if a GI of average intelligence wouldn’t have had a hard enough time as it were outsmarting and outmaneuvering relentless teams of highly-trained assassins.

“No, no, no, see, let’s make the character DANGEROUSLY stupid if his super-spy drugs wear off”.

Talk about overkill.

I realize it was meant to be suspenseful, but the thought of a super-smart super-spy suddenly becoming mystified by the sensation of his own drool running down his chin was just too amusing to ignore. I couldn’t help but laugh at the guy. I didn’t want to, but, seriously, it was enough to make me chuckle. Not good for an Action-Thriller, at least not if I’m supposed to take it seriously.

However, if you can overlook the predictable and, quite frankly, tired and done-to-death anti-CIA slant that’s inherent throughout the Bourne series… yeah, yeah, we get it, the CIA’s evil, mean, wicked and nasty, but can we move on to some different villains already? Jeez… the action in The Bourne Legacy was pretty satisfying and suspenseful. Hey, at least I could see it and follow it.

But, seriously– “Where’s my chems?! Where’s my chems?! I only saved your life from assassins ’cause I thought you could get me more chems and I NEED MY CHEMS!!!!”

bourne-chems

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I found it difficult to remain invested in a lead character who, throughout the course of the plot, degenerated into a psychotic junkie fiending for his next fix.

Again, at the risk of sounding old-fashioned…ah, what the hell, I am old-fashioned when it comes to movies like this…the Hollywood Action flicks I grew up with featured heroes who were physically exceptional and/or unusually crafty, with natural talents boosted by extensive, specialized training.

Or they just were those characters, without laborious explanations via increasingly ludicrous backstories.

What the Bourne series has to offer…and maybe this is why the franchise, for the most part, just doesn’t appeal to me… are heroes who are really just mediocre individuals in need of heavy-duty doping and/or genetic tampering to maintain their skills and survive.

Oh, sure, they may be bad-ass killers, but, when it comes right down to it? They’re really just victims.

How tragic. How stylish.

How pathetic.

To paraphrase Steve Buscemi’s line from Reservoir Dogs, “You know what this is? It’s the world’s smallest violin playing just for the Bourne assassins”.

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