(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, on 11 August 2012, retrieved from http://newindianexpress.com/entertainment/reviews/article587817.ece)
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Scott Glenn, Stacy Keach, Albert Finney, David Strathairn
Director: Tony Gilroy
Rating: 2 stars
Yes, there’s no Matt Damon. Or almost no Matt Damon. There’s almost no Jason Bourne in this Bourne movie. That took me a while to figure out, because the movie takes its own time telling us who on earth Jeremy Renner’s character is, and why he’s prone to trying his best to kill himself. We gather he isn’t suicidal when he joins forces with a woman scientist and goes to a lot of trouble to evade, well, neutralisation. We gather he isn’t a new Bourne when we’re told he’s Aaron Cross. It’s a very long time before we’re channelled into Matt Damon’s comforting presence.
If you’re one of those people who get frustrated when they don’t know what’s going on, I’d suggest you skip the movie. It takes close to an hour to give us any insight into its plot. By this time, I’ve already given up and lost track of a lot of what’s been happening. The rather unforgettable opening scene tells us it involves some pills that will put Spiderman to shame – who needs spider genes when you’ve got drugs, eh?
So, Aaron Cross is a product of Outcome – or some other element of the secret programme run by the US Intelligence. For some reason, this programme, under the stewardship of Colonel Eric Byer (Edward Norton) wants to reverse its creation of near-superhumans, and is willing to spend a lot of time and money doing it. At least, that’s mostly what I understood from the intense conversations Edward Norton has with his senior minions, and the dramatic chases that follow. You’d have thought the US channelled its military to safer occupations now, but whatevs.
For some other reason, they also want to kill Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz). Maybe it has to do with the fact that she’s got so many doctorates, there should be a Yo Momma joke about it – hell, there should be a whole new meme. When she and Cross team up, it somehow merits a hike across the world. At this point, we can relax, because the dialogue gives way to a series of action sequences.
The film may make more sense if you’ve read the novels. The cinematography is mostly brilliant, though some of the fast cuts made me want to blink rapdily. But, honestly, the three earlier Bourne films made me want to read the Ludlum books. This one makes me go, “meh.”
The Verdict: The best audience for this movie is one that doesn’t understand either English or physics, and is addicted to long, predictable chases.