Friday, November 30, 2012

Another Bourne...?

"There was never just one"

So reads the tagline of The Bourne Legacy. Logically, it makes sense that there was more than one Bourne-like supersoldier-- that much was hinted at in the movie The Bourne Identity, so it hardly comes as surprise that somewhere along the line another would-be assassin/spy/black operative would rise to cause Treadstone more grief. The events of The Bourne Legacy loosely overlap The Bourne Ultimatum, showing news blips here and there featuring Jason Bourne, the convenient death of the journalist, the pending exposure of the department, and so on. Treadstone is still laboring to cover its tracks, cover its misdeeds, and discredit the voices that would expose them. It is an intense time for the cooperation, and one rogue assassin Jason Bourne is enough to deal with when the training that they gave him is the very thing that is stabbing them in the back.

Enter Aaron Cross.

Aaron Cross is a different kind of soldier. He is the product of a Treadstone sub-affiliate called Operation Outcome. While subjects like Jason Bourne had rigorous physical and psychological training to make them into the optimum human weapons, Aaron Cross and his fellow subjects gain their physical and mental strength from highly advanced drug administrations. Each soldier reports to an officer who supplies them with rotations of pills to keep their minds and bodies sharp and ready for action. That is, until the powers decide to close the project, no loose ends. Soon, Aaron is the last survivor of Operation Outcome and determined to keep it that way. But to stay sharp and stay quick, he needs the drugs.

Herein is where the person of Aaron Cross grabbed my attention. I have to do a lot of comparing to Jason Bourne, because despite his absence in this movie, he is still an important entity to the story (and the movie has his name on it). But part of what made Jason Bourne interesting was how his amnesia affected his psychological defenses, causing him to question and eventually regret that he was made an assassin. Aaron, on the other hand, has all his memories and does not have the same emotional and psychological steeling as Bourne. This is especially clear when Aaron is shown in flashback mode questioning Byers on the ethics of a recently completed mission and the lives it cost. 

Cross is introduced as a self-driven subject, conducting his own training regimen in the snowy wilderness of Alaska. He climbs mountains and fights wolves with no hidden cameras evaluating his performance. His mental and physical strength are enhanced by the experimental drugs that he depends on to keep him in peak condition. Later in the story it is revealed that Cross’s motivation to continue his dosage, is that without the mind-enhancing drug, he is actually a little slow. He was not recruited for his tremendous performance; he was merely a willing citizen. The fact that his pre-drug intellectual state was sub-par by average standards lent credence to why he might be especially driven to stay on schedule with his dosage.

While I enjoyed The Bourne Legacy as a summer action flick, I also acknowledge that Legacy is unlikely to be widely accepted, and not have much re-watch value. The plot is at times so thick I felt that I may need to review all the previous Bourne movies to remind myself who does what with whom under what secret agency and so on. Legacy does little to recap the who’s who of their circle of characters, and seems to depend on its audience being familiar with all previous Bourne installments. 

All in all, The Bourne Legacy was good. Aaron is by no means as complicated a character as Jason Bourne, but he is interesting all the same as a stock character of the genre. I have always wondered why Jason signed up in the first place—with Aaron, it made sense. 

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