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Bourne Again?

An extended scene of a madman's killing spree is in very poor taste


The Bourne Legacy, a franchise crippling killfest defined more by its excess than its content, is ultimately a muddled mystery without a clue. This big budget reboot of the expertly crafted Bourne trilogy is a money grab. And it has nothing in common with a novel of the same name, choosing instead to steer its audience toward a waylaid trip to mediocrity.

Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz, the film's lead actors, are both superb talents but I had the distinct feeling that they wanted to be in a different movie--at least a better one.

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Within minutes of the opening titles, The Bourne Legacy drops its characters into a poorly constructed plot, requiring audiences to imagine their backstory. Worse yet, the lead characters are left adrift--quite literally--at the film's finale.

But the Bourne Legacy's greatest sin erupts one hour into the film in the form of gratuitous carnage. Universal Pictures should be ashamed. In the wake of the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre, studio heads should have been brave enough to put this film on a shelf for an appropriate length of time, in respect for those who were killed or wounded in the recent shootout.

But instead of holding the film for a later release date, they choose to showcase a scene of unexplained rage from a psychopathic gunman. It's a stain on the nation's movie screens. To justify such a gut wrenching expose by claiming that the scene is merely fiction is to be tone deaf to the human experience.

Producer Frank Marshall, much beloved in Idaho for his philanthropy, is among the industry's finest filmmakers. His previous movies (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Color Purple, The Sixth Sense, Seabiscuit) are head and shoulders above most productions. And Marshall's advance screening of The Bourne Legacy at Boise's Egyptian Theatre Aug. 1 raised much needed thousands of dollars for charity. But his film's seemingly endless shooting scene was shameful, nonetheless. I find it impossible to believe that before sending their movie into general release, no one in the hierarchy of Universal Pictures thought the violence was tasteless.

The Bourne Legacy's plotline is average at best, its dialogue even worse. It should be noted that the cast is impressive--including Renner, Weisz, Edward Norton, Scott Glenn and Stacy Keach--but the characters rarely speak with one another. Instead, they shout in extended, cliche-driven speeches. We're asked to accept that the greater the shrill, the more important the dialogue is. But these sophomoric, overmodulated motormouths resemble The Three Stooges more than government operatives.

Despite the film's length (it drags along at two hours, 15 minutes) the movie feels as if it's still missing two reels, one at the beginning and another at the end.

I didn't know whether to welcome its conclusion or dread what will certainly be another sequel. Nonetheless, the filmmakers' choice to exploit the fictional slaughter of innocents was unpardonable.