When Edward Norton signs on to play the bad guy in a movie, it's a safe bet he won't just be playing a simple, easily-defined black-and-white villain.
That's doubly true when he's joining the "Bourne" series that has become one of the few reliable alternatives to Bond for fans of smart popcorn spy movies. The latest entry, "The Bourne Legacy," is an attempt to extend the life of the series past the departure of Matt Damon, who has been the star of the first three films. My review will be up later this week, but it's safe to say the new film absolutely feels like part of the same world and the same narrative, and Eric Byer, the shadowy government figure who Norton plays in the film, is a perfect addition to the roster of middle-management government types who have peopled these films so far.
Norton is rarely just a gun for hire, instead signing on to films as a serious collaborator, someone who's going to want to dig into the text and see what can be done to elevate the material every single time. It's an approach that might make some people hesitate, but the filmmakers who embrace the approach tend to get great work from him, and it sounds like Tony Gilroy was absolutely up for the back-and-forth.
What's interesting about the new film is how they seem to have reached this point where it's hard to call anyone in the film a "good guy" or a "bad guy." Gilroy created very clear motivations for everyone, and certainly we follow Renner's character, Aaron Cross, as he attempts to stay alive when the plug is pulled on the program that created him. But Byer's not some monster who looks forward to killing anyone. He is part of this shadowy world of espionage and high-tech, where secrets are currency and where the ends justify the means. As a result, this is a film about the way secrets are kept and the price of keeping them, and it expands the world of the series without closing the door on any of the options they have for the future. It's also interesting to see a film like this where the main antagonist doesn't play any scenes with the protagonist except for a flashback.
I certainly hope "The Bourne Legacy" does well enough for this same crew to come back and make another one because I feel like there are plenty of questions left after this film, and because it's not really over until Aaron Cross ends up face to face with Eric Byer.
"The Bourne Legacy" opens everywhere on Friday.
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
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