Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weiz, Edward Norton, Zeljko Ivanek, Stacy Keach, Scott, Glenn, Rachel Black, and more.
Directed by: Tony Gilroy Story by: Tony Gilroy Screenplay by: Tony Gilroy and Dan Gilroy Inspired by: Robert Ludlum's Bourne Series Cinematography by: Robert Elswit Original Music by: James Newton Howard
Premise: As several government agencies try to cut off all possible connections with several other agencies due to exposure of their underhanded dealings by Jason Bourne, Aaron Cross finds himself being targeted for termination along with all the other agents who've undergone special training and DNA modification. Escaping with the use of the very skills they want to kill him for having, he needs to find help as the drugs keeping him who he is today slowly work out of his system. (Rated PG-13)
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: I first became aware of Jeremy Renner in the short lived series "The Unusuals", so I was quite eager to see what he would make of Aaron Cross. He did not disappoint. Rachel Weiz was a great foil for Mr. Renner's character as Dr. Marta Shearing. Her reactions were believable and her shock at events and trying to deal with them very vivid when creating a contrast against Aaron Cross's calm demeanor to such life changing events. With Edward Norton, and his awesome portrayal of the unscrupulous Eric Byer, a great dynamic, three dimensional story arises.
2) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: Since this film is a side story born of the Bourne Series, concurrent events precipitating the cause for the troubles of Aaron Cross and Marta Shearing get shown in glimpses throughout different parts of the film. If you've watched the series, you'll feel an immediate connection as these scenes are shown. For those who've not watched any of the previous Bourne films, it might be a little difficult since some of the context is lost, but shouldn't impact the enjoyment of the film overall.
While there were no real big surprises in the plot, there were a lot of minor bits that were. Dr. Shearing's realistic reactions to the stressful and unusual situations she finds herself in covered several of these surprising bits. Also the real reason Aaron Cross loves the program so much, and what he will lose if he can't get more the medications that are part of the special agents's regimen. Plus a few others.
And with the addition of seeing behind the scenes through Mr. Norton's character, the film had more depth and a greater dynamic, that complimented the film overall.
3) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Since Jeremy Renner proves quite capable of pulling off the physical part of his role, the use of the shaky cam, which has increased in usage over each of the Bourne films, was kept mostly to a minimum. I was very happy about this, as too much shaky cam usage tends to dilute the action scenes, plus it also make it difficult for some people to watch. (On the last Bourne film, "The Bourne Ultimatum", I probably watched a whole ten to fifteen minutes of content out of the two hours because it made me ill to look at it.)
The film is full of great chases - some with vehicles and some without. My favorite was the long chase in Manila. There was a very cool, multi-dimensional aspect to the foot chase, which was inspired. Really well done.
4) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Several long camera sweeps proved incredible in setting the tone and utter bleakness of a couple of locations. While a lot of the camera work pulled back on the training area for Cross, this was turned the other way during their stay in Manila. There the camera work was very close, weaving with the characters through the narrow streets, only at times pulling back and showing the vast amount of people in the very active city for the second, concurrent chase occurring over the rooftops. Very nice!
Conclusion: A well executed film with loads, and loads of action. Make sure your bladder is empty because in the film's last twenty minutes you will not want or be able to leave your seat.
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)