Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Bourne Legacy


The chain of events triggered by Jason Bourne's actions leads the CIA to terminate one of their programs involving enhanced human skills through genetic manipulation. Eric Byer (Edward Norton) orders the disposal of every field asset and scientist involved as some sort of damage control to counter media exposure. Fresh out of initiation, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) suddenly finds himself running for his life along with biochemist Martha Shearing (Rachel Weisz), who survives a planned lone gunman shooting incident meant to silence them. In need of a permanent fix in exchange for his medication, he convinces her to help him, but the resources they need are stored in a laboratory halfway across the globe: in Manila.

The references to the earlier movies would be a bit distracting for someone who has not read a book or seen a movie of the franchise, but through the help of character flashbacks, it is easy to catch up on the main premise of the series, which is that of the operation concerning some genetic engineering thingy that enhances human capabilities. This is perhaps better considered as a spin-off. Although Jason Bourne is mentioned one too many times and the story is linked to the previous films, The Bourne Legacy gets to stand on its own using the perspective of another agent in the program. Luckily, he is also as clueless as the audience in so many ways that his questions mimic ours, and the answers that he discovers suffice for us to also understand.

And so the question every Filipino who is going to watch this has been dying to ask: How was Manila? Well, Manila was Manila. Renner gets to jump from one uneven roof to another in some slum area as Weisz tries to evade the PNP by running through narrow alleys; a smattering of Tagalog is heard, from the normal to the unintentionally funny; and there are several chase scenes that would make you wonder as to how they were shot in the middle of Cubao in broad daylight. Like, seriously, they must have had a very big budget for them to cause such a standstill. The plot terminates in Palawan, the beauty of which is not used to full potential, but then again this is not an infomercial for the Department of Tourism.

Perhaps what is noteworthy is how the production team was able to come up with such scenes that obviously needed some serious crowd control. Despite the use of one too many jump shots that make everything seem like a chaotic blur, enough adrenaline rush is generated to make it all watchable. It makes you want to think why such elements are usually absent in Filipino action movies where they have to find an abandoned warehouse first before they shoot one another. Anyway, this comparison is moot, and I digress.

The purpose of including the Philippines in the setting is justified although any other location would have still been a good fit in the flow of the story. The events unfold in a way that they leave enough room for suspense, what with the many action scenes abound. The conclusion, however, leaves you wanting. Your first impression would probably be, WTF, that’s it? Perhaps the disappointment stems from the good momentum that the film gains, only to be left open-ended in a rather underwhelming manner, or maybe I just did not expect it to end so soon. A sequel is highly probable but would more likely depend on box office performance. It is a decent action movie all in all; not as fun as Taken, but fun nonetheless.

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