Sam Strange Remembers: THE BOURNE LEGACY

Imagine a Superman 5 focused solely on Nuclear Man.

It's easy to make a Bourne film. Each series entry doesn't tell a story so much as a chase. All you really need is some pretty international cities for Bourne to raise havoc in. Punctuate these scenes with shady government people shouting ominous orders in big NASA control rooms. Follow this up with a big vehicular chase. That's it!

So, let's say you show Bourne getting out of a plane in Spain. Then, in America, a computer screen should say: "We found Jason Bourne in Spain!" And the main shade government guy will then bark: "I want everyone in Spain! Give me everything you got! I want feet on the ground! Roadblocks! WikiLeaks! Reddit! Nothing gets in or out of there, except for us, and the people who already live there, and possibly some small animals. Birds too, I'd expect!"

I say the films don't have stories, but that's not true. The first one was about Bourne getting his memories back and falling in love. The second one was about Bourne getting his memories back and seeking revenge for his murdered love. The third one was about Bourne getting his memories back while falling in love with Paddy Considine and seeking revenge for his lost love when Paddy Considine takes a bullet to the noggin halfway through. (This more complicated plot leads many to proclaim the third Bourne the best of the lot.)

But that third film ended with Jason Bourne reclaiming the last of his memories and kind of not giving a shit about any stragglers. His role in the series had wrapped. I had such a nice little setup with these Bourne films, though, it seemed a waste to just give up and walk away. So I decided that the Bourne franchise need not be Bourne-centric after all.

That may sound stupid to you at first because it is stupid. But if you want more films in keeping with this particular bare-bones ass-kicking practical effect-laden action aesthetic, you're just going to have to go along with it. Think of it like pulling a tooth. It's a bit awkward and painful, but once we're past this first Bourne-free Bourne film, it's smooth sailing from here to eternity. We can have Bourne everything. The Bourne Peda Familias. The Bourne Pizzeria. The Bourne Whatever.

So this first one is called The Bourne Legacy. It has a bit more story than normal because there's so much non-Bourne stuff to set up. Basically, while Jason Bourne was fucking up everyone's Christmas in the first three Bourne films, the shady government guys decided to shut down all their shady government programs. This includes killing all their super soldiers. One of them is this film's Bourne. His name is Alex Cross.

Alex Cross is way different from Jason Bourne. Instead of being calm and cool all the time, he constantly acts like its his first day at badass school. As a result, he overshares information and asks too many questions and kind of whines a lot. On the other hand, he doesn't look as nice or kind. And his nervous edge makes him seem especially unstable and dangerous. This might confuse you at first until later when we learn he's a drug addict.

The original shady government program, the one which gave birth to Jason Bourne in the first place, was called Treadstone. Then they changed it to BriarBear. Then they changed it back to Treadstone. Then they called it Eyeore Delta 5. This program basically brainwashed people into super assassins who ignored pain and suppressed their weaker human emotions. But that took too much work, so when they decided to start up again, under the moniker "The Bourne Legacy," they just used a pharmaceutical combination of heroine and crack rocks instead.

So the new Bournes are awesome because they're addicted to a pain and emotion dulling "medication" called "Chems" which give them a fighting edge. For their training, they're simply dropped naked into the cold Canadian wilderness where they learn to become badasses by battling wolves with their bare hands and swimming in near frozen waters until their balls disappear completely, which is cheaper than neutering them.

Alex Cross is ball-deep in this training when "The Bourne Legacy" program goes into its inevitable suicide mode (seriously, it's more dangerous to be muscle for the government than muscle for the mafia). Knowing that their agents' only weakness is drug addiction, they simply replace all their heroin and crack with literal poison, and they all swallow it like dumbasses. Because Alex Cross is in Wolverine country far from other people, they just blow him up instead. Unfortunately they miss. Their little drone plane comes back for another try, but Cross tapes a pie plate to his thigh, thereby eliminating his heat signature. He also shoves a pinecone up his ass, which makes him bulletproof.

The next day, Cross runs all the way to America looking for his "Chems." His original supply has been interrupted by a severe case of death. It turns out that main "Chem" scientist is part of a new program called "The Bourne Kamikaze" where you combine "Chems" with a lobotomy and basically make a badass zombie tailored for suicide missions. This guy kills everyone in the "Chem" lab except mousy assistant scientist Rachel Weitztz.

Seeing that he can't just go to the lab and pick up some meds, Alex Cross uses his deteriorating junkie brains to kidnap Rachel Weitztz simply because her lab jacket smells kind of like his pills, and he desperately assumes she's carrying.

She's not. But people try to kill them, so they have to run without or with a fix. As soon as they're safe, he tries to dump her, but she tells him about a sea of "Chems" in Argentina or some place like that. Together they come up with a plan to steal it. That's the plot of this film. The hero needs drugs.

Actually, on the way, Rachel Weitztztz tells Alex Cross that she knows a way to keep him high forever. He really likes that idea, and we understand why when this marginally related Bourne sequel reveals his pre-"Bourne Legacy" program past as a marginally related sequel to Forrest Gump. If he goes off meds, not only will he get the shakes and puke, but he will also lose his combat brains, leaving him with no brains at all. Also, the crack aids his lack of confidence around women.

Eventually, the bad guys (our government) realize what Alex Cross and Rachel Weiiitztzz are up to. They send a couple guys to kill them, but these dudes all fail because Rachel Weiitzztz has successfully made Cross' "Chem" "enhancements" permanent. Rather than kick the habit, he's become the drug. He'll never be sweetly retarded again.

The shady government bad guys figure this out, and decide to go into "Loco Protocol." See, there's an even deeper shady government program called "The Bourne Terminator." They make Terminators. The main bad government guy has one activated and sends him to kill Alex Cross. Instead, Alex Cross kills him, perhaps offscreen. After that, the shady government has no more shady programs and super-high Alex Cross can live the rest of his life in peace on a boat with Rachel Weisz.

Hey, I don't know where it's written that all movies have to have 3rd acts. Probably because I'm a fucking rebel and can't read.

(three stars)

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