Having sat down in a chilly Central London screening room last night to soak in the fourth instalment of the Bourne franchise, The Bourne Legacy, I emerged unsurprised that the film wasn’t a particularly satisfactory outing, and felt like an attempt to ape the style and sophistication of the previous Matt Damon-starring films.
You can read my review of the film HERE.
Feeling pretty vocal about the film’s misgivings, I have concocted ten reasons below – some obvious to the sight unseen viewer, and some less so – as to why The Bourne Legacy was such a tremendous failure.
10. Jeremy Renner
While Jeremy Renner did indeed garner a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his work as the protagonist of the Best Picture-winning The Hurt Locker, that film, for all of its propulsive action, focused on a subdued protagonist who didn’t have to be charismatic. In fact, the opposite was true; Bigelow’s sinewy action thriller won Academy honours because amid all of the warfare, it had subtle character inflexions, and an out-of-nowhere performance from Renner that demonstrated his fine acting chops.
For Bourne, however, when you’re going to inevitably be scrutinised against and compared to Matt Damon’s fantastic portrayal, you need to in some measure live up to that. Unfortunately, Renner doesn’t yet seem able to convince as a charismatic and sympathetic action star who audiences can get behind; he is the strong, silent type, which is fine for a brooding thriller – the type that director Gilroy would typically write for himself – but for a thriller that wants to be smart and exhilarating, the character needs more pep. Thus, when he eventually does spring into action, there’s little emotional attachment to what is going on, because we cannot identify with such a thoroughly bland and characterless protagonist. He is a cutout that could be matched by most blockbuster leads; we are told he is stronger and smarter than everyone else, but the gravity of that is never really played out, though this admittedly is not Renner’s fault alone.
However, he has always seemed more comfortable as a supporting player – as in The Town and The Avengers - and so the first mistake the film made ultimately was casting someone who wasn’t quite ready for this sort of blockbuster, lead star limelight. Who they could have cast instead, though, is anyone’s guess…
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