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The Bourne Legacy

This is the 4th film in the extremely successful BOURNE series film franchise. Bourne's legacy is carried forward in the new film in a spiritless way. There are additional elements in the story like remote controlled killer drones of the US Air Force, tracking implants, bio-chemically controlled intelligence operatives; Oscar nominated actors Jeremy Renner and Edward Norton, and Oscar-winning actress Rachel Weisz. They do not compensate adequately for the missing spirit - Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. This shows how important is the process of casting in a film.

It's a simple and straightforward narrative with very little sense of intrigue and suspense. Jason Bourne has exposed the fault-lines in the CIA's clandestine projects to develop killer operatives and intelligence agents with super-human mental and physical strengths. The projects were given a go ahead by the US government with a mandate that called for them to be aborted and erased completely in case of any mishap that threatened to blow their cover. Now, thanks to the rogue agent Jason Bourne, the CIA is busy erasing and dismantling the entire apparatus behind these projects. One of them involves bio-chemical and genomic research to alter human behavior and is a bit difficult to be tackled. The agents employed under the project are deliberately infected with a virus to impart them almost inhuman physical prowess and a temporary self-healing capability. They have to take some blue-coloured pills regularly to control the virus. This also in a way helps the project bosses to keep a tab on the infected operatives and agents.

The ruthless project controller Eric Byer (Edward Norton) wants all these infected agents and the biochemists and the other researchers involved in the project to be eliminated/erased. He has almost succeeded in his mission but one of the Alaska based operatives Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) and a project researcher Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) survive and upset his applecart. They help each other to survive Byer's murderous machinations and onslaughts. Marta and Aaron have to travel all the way to a pharmaceutical research facility in Manila, Philippines, to make Aaron virus-free while Byer's agents are in their hot-pursuit.

The huge gaping holes of implausibility are not the real problems of this narrative. They hardly matter in a fast paced action/espionage/thriller. As mentioned earlier, the absence of Matt Damon as Jason Bourne makes it a commonplace cat and mouse game that neither evokes emotions nor awe. A lot of film footage is wasted in explaining the theory and philosophy behind the project. It was not needed. Moreover, Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross hardly comes across as a vulnerable victim of a dirty system and process trying to fend off the ruthless and all-powerful Byer's attempts to destroy him. He is too confident and sure-footed to win the viewer's sympathy and support as an innocent victim of a devilish CIA project that is as bad and morally debased as the Taliban's and Al Qaida's human bombs.

The film is low on adrenalin and high on verbosity. It does not even offer anything new or surprising. It uses trite overused ideas like tracking implants in a human body. Though the killer drone attack idea can be considered a novelty, it is too impersonal and detached to recreate the thrill, chill, and tension of a 'the hunter and the hunted' drama. The final chase sequence in the film is a combination of parkour and clich├ęd motorcycle stunts and thus is not as awesome or nail biting for an audience that is used to seeing better stuff than this. The film does not even have a juicy romantic angle in spite of a sizzling star cast like Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz. The writers and the director have wasted available resources in a way, by not employing these topline stars to their full potential. The romance between the twin protagonists could have made the chase sequences a little more sumptuous. By the time they get down to that in the dying moments of the film, it is too late to be of any real value or impact.

Rajesh Kumar Singh