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To sequel or not to sequel, that is the question: The Bourne Legacy

11.01.2012

The Bourne Legacy title slice

I've always enjoyed the BOURNE movies, shaky camera and all.  While THE BOURNE IDENTITY is easily my favorite of the original three, they are all very solid pieces of entertainment that manage to both show the human cost of modern-day military programs and be entertaining on an action level at the same time.  That sort of balancing act is one that is difficult enough even to attempt, let alone accomplish.  And while the technical side of the storytelling may hamper the end result for some people, I do think that the heart, blood, and broken bones beneath shine forth with relative consistency.

Which brings us to THE BOURNE LEGACY.  The movie came and went without a great deal of fanfare back in August, sandwiched between TOTAL RECALL and THE EXPENDABLES 2.  Somehow its worldwide total managed to be double the reported budget, and reviews were on the whole far better than what a perceived cash-grab like LEGACY could have been.  The fundamental issue with the film, perhaps, is that it fairly screams for a sequel.  It felt, if anything, more like the first half of a story rather than the complete tale.  Anything truly interesting with Renner's character of Aaron Cross is not going to happen until after the events of LEGACY, and so the film is in the rather unique position of being incomplete without a sequel and yet unsure whether a sequel will actually come to pass.  There's been talk of Matt Damon coming back in, or at least the desire for him to do so, but whether that pans out or not the question becomes: is Aaron Cross' story going to get a second shot at really taking off, or will it remain drifting in unfulfilled limbo?

The Bourne Legacy pic 2

It is of course very true that not all sequels are made equal, and there are certain criteria that make some more successful than others insofar as "good filmmaking" goes.

1) Is there an organic place for a sequel to go? Yes. Cross spent the film kicking his addiction to chems while discovering that he was actually engineered in a special way that allows him to retain their effects even beyond use.  Now that his "origin" story is out of the way, his place in the greater Treadstone/Outcome/US Military Machine established, and his special set of skills solidified, Cross can move on to an even more engaging mission with greater resonance than his own addiction.

2) Is there somewhere for the characters to go? On the run but safe (for now), the main characters have time to regroup and plan their next move.  Their place in the greater Treadstone/Outcome story writer/director Tony Gilroy hoped to tell is (mostly) clear, and there's plenty of room to see how they respond to the world and how the world responds to them.  And, as already mentioned, Cross has kicked his addiction and Weisz's character of Dr. Shearing has survived a traumatic and dramatic ordeal which revealed to her the true nature of the fire she played with by working with the people that made Aaron Cross into the man he now is.

3) Is there somewhere for the story to go that isn't just a rehash? It'd be a bit tough to make a sequel more than just Aaron Cross hunting down the people who built Outcome in the way Bourne sought to bring justice to the crafters of Treadstone, but there's plenty of leeway in the methods Cross uses and the path on which he travels.  

4) Would it make the original movie better? I firmly believe so, because I am absolutely convinced that we only got half a story with THE BOURNE LEGACY.  A sequel would give his character somewhere to go in response to what he has experienced and discovered, and thereby actually allow him to have a complete character arc.  The character didn't evolve much beyond the semi-superficial end of understanding and kicking his chem addiction, and I for one would like to see how the events of THE BOURNE LEGACY in conjunction with his life and beliefs up until those events have since changed him.  Seeing/exploring this would in turn provide a greater retroactive resonance to LEGACY, a sort of humanity and importance that it desperately needs.

5) Is it possible to guarantee Rachel Weisz in any sort of outfit that works to accentuate her natural beauty? It's possible but not probable, as her relationship with Cross is hardly a sexual one and her general role in the story is of a different sort than some past "Bourne Girls."  While being sequestered together for the sake of safety might cause Cross and Shearing to take solace in each other's arms, I think a great way to further explore the restoration of some of Cross' lost humanity and personality would be to give him a romantic foil of some kind.  Not actual foil though, because that would cut and chaffe and just be all kinds of bad news.

The Bourne Legacy pic 1

Fundamentally, the problem may be that LEGACY was just outright unnecessary to begin with.  And yes, I know that this isn't exactly a revelation for many of you.  But now that it's here, now that we have it - should the studio let what was started go to waste? The stage has been set.  The players are ready.  The path is there, if not clear.

So that's what I think, though those thoughts of course only raise more questions.  How soon would the new plot pick up after the old? Which possible track could the plot take with Cross' story? Would a sequel only work if Damon came back as Bourne, or could we continue without him? Should Tony Gilroy return to write and direct, should he only write, or should he be out altogether? And perhaps most importantly - would it even be worth the time, money, and effort needed to make a sequel?

For now though, leave your responses below and we'll tally the results for the next column!

SO DO YOU THINK THEY SHOULD MAKE A SEQUEL OR NOT?

The Bourne Legacy poster

Extra Tidbit: Last column's entry CONSTANTINE garnered an overwhelmingly positive response in favor of a sequel. It's too bad that, at this point, it probably isn't going to happen. Keanu's off doing other projects, director Francis Lawrence is helming THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE, and the chance to strike while the iron was hot has long since passed.
Source: JoBlo.com

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