I love a good series. Of anything. World Series, Cheers, Justified, Seinfeld, Mad About You, The Travis McGee series, you name it. I especially enjoy reading a good series, and Back In The Day when I did a lot of reading on long nights at sea or in the field, I had the time to read a lot of them. The aforementioned Travis McGee is still my all-time favorite, but I also enjoyed Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt series (though Pitt is no McGee — let the debate begin). W.E.B. Griffin’s series about a group of Army officers whose careers spanned three wars, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam (The Lieutenants, The Captains, etc.) was addictive — not literary greatness by any means, but a hell of a fun read.
One of those series I read back then was Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne novels. A gold mine of thriller action. I’m talking about the first three — Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum. Especially #1. I could not stop turning pages. The whole, “Cain is for Charlie and Charlie is for Carlos. Kill Carlos!” thing was riveting. Breathtaking. I quickly devoured all three books.
So, when the movies came out, I was thrilled as hell … then a little apprehensive, even though several of Ludlum’s novels have weathered the transition from book to movie. But the Bourne novels are incredibly complex — too complex to recreate for the screen without extensive adaptations (read: omissions). So I passed on all three movies in the theater. I have since watched them at home, several times, and have come to enjoy them as movies in their own rights, not as reflections of some of the best thriller novels out there. Yeah, Matt Damon actually does pull off playing the Ultimate Badass Jason Bourne. And from a movie-making standpoint, they’re all great. Solid cast, plenty of action, tight story, it’s all there.
So, I actually looked forward to The Bourne Legacy. Mainly because I like Jeremy Renner, ever since The Hurt Locker. No matter the role, Renner always manages to humanize the character without necessarily appealing to your emotions. Hell, I even liked him in the small role he had in The Avengers.
But after watching Legacy, I walked away thinking, “That was ok.” And it was. Just a great big bowl of OK. I won’t give much away here (not that there’s much to give away), but I didn’t feel that way simply because Matt Damon wasn’t in it. I’m not particularly a fan of Damon, anyway. It had all the prerequisites: action, breathless stunts, the boy-girl thing, good actors. Never a dull moment. But it just felt like the movie tried to do way too much in one sitting (one 2 hour, 15 minute sitting at that). If the intent is to continue the Bourne series, there was enough material hinted at and alluded to cover 5 movies. Why cram it all into this one? Especially when the premise is pretty straightforward — maybe even too straightforward and something of a mixed message in the first place: do drugs or die.
A couple things on the cast. Rachel Weisz is still excellent in a lead role. Ed Norton is stil one of my favorite actors and can handle any role given to him. Even the supporting cast was good, even if one female character bore a mildly disconcerting resemblance to Hillary Clinton. But when did Scott Glenn (The Right Stuff, Urban Cowboy) suddenly turn into a leather-skinned old man? And when did Stacy Keach turn into something larger than your average kitchen appliance? Both of those appearances threatened to take me out of the movie.
The Bourne Legacy is required viewing for the hard-core fans of the movie series, and I’m sure most will walk away satisfied. For me, I think somebody ought to just let Jason Bourne disappear like the ass-kicking, super-spy wraith that he is.
Bonus trailer: Caught the trailer for Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon Levitt ‘s upcoming Loopers. Looks interesting, but, man, it’s hard to believe Willis is 57 (unlike Glenn and Keach). He looks more badass now than John McClane did 24 years ago (yes, it really has been that long).