Thursday August 9, 2012
By MUMTAJ BEGUM
... Well, not quite. While Jason Bourne exits the Bourne series, in comes Aaron Cross, played by Hollywood’s new leading man, Jeremy Renner.
THE power of an individual was brought to the fore when Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) fought against the government corporation that was hell-bent on eliminating him, and triumphed, in the Bourne films.
Since 2002, we watched Bourne recall his identity, reign supreme over those who wanted him dead and, ultimately, use all the skills and abilities taught to him in the super-secretive Treadstone programme to publicly expose the CIA, which runs the very programme.
With this year’s The Bourne Legacy, we discover that CIA’s Treadstone isn’t the only intelligence programme initiated in a bid to create super-soldiers and better spies. One other programme – known as Outcome – has six agents who have been developed and trained for use by the Department of Defense in high-risk and long-term intelligence assignments.
In the aftermath of Treadstone’s exposure, all traces of the Outcome programme must be erased, including everyone involved. On the termination list is Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), his fellow agents and a research scientist (Rachel Weisz).
However, killing a near-perfect soldier – one with great physical enhancements – is almost impossible.
In an interview transcript provided by United International Pictures, actor Renner, 41, described Cross as someone very different from Bourne.
“At his basic, Aaron Cross is a guy who wants to belong. He’s a guy who wants to fit in and be a part of something. He’s completely the opposite of who Jason Bourne was. Bourne was just trying to find out who the hell he was, but Aaron Cross knows exactly who he is. He knows what he wants to do and that’s being a part of this team.”
Being a fan of the franchise and Damon’s portrayal of Bourne, Renner was not interested in playing Jason Bourne and replacing Damon.
Luckily, director Tony Gilroy shared the same view when asked how the story can move forward after The Bourne Ultimatum, and without the presence of actor Damon who opted out of the latest instalment.
Gilroy – who had written all three Bourne movies, with the foundation built from Robert Ludlum’s Cold War-era books – decided to expand it by creating an original storyline and adding a new main character.
According to Renner – who received an Oscar nomination for his work in The Hurt Locker – the role came to him in a very Bourne-like way.
“Someone flew out to Germany where I was shooting Hansel And Gretel. They knocked on my door, handed me a script and said, ‘When you’re done with it, call this number ...’ It was very spy-like. So I read it, loved it, and thought I’d be an idiot not to do it.”
He added that while this film is linked to the previous Bourne movies, there is no reason to draw comparisons between them.
“It’s just expanding on the original concept and continues the story. This film’s story also runs parallel with the story of The Bourne Ultimatum, which is happening at the same time. It really opened up the parameters and the perspective on what that universe is.”
In the film’s production notes, Gilroy commented on why he chose Renner as his leading man. He said: “The reason why Jeremy’s such an amazing actor is that he is a complicated guy. He’s sweet and he’s hard, and he lets himself draw on all of that, all the time.
“I must’ve watched The Hurt Locker 18 times. In every scene, he is molecularly involved with the physical aspect of what’s happening at the moment. This integrity that he has, this feet-on-the-ground awareness and this surprising, explosive intelligence, made Jeremy the perfect cousin for Bourne.”
If Damon hardly exuded an ounce of “action star” quality before impressing everyone in The Bourne Identity, Renner has shown he is familiar with action with last year’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and this year’s The Avengers.
As it turns out, he was very comfortable with whatever Gilroy had planned especially since this chapter retains the realistic tone of the earlier films when it comes to action sequences.
Renner was especially keen on keeping it authentic, so he can find the humanity within the character. Nonetheless, the stunt work wasn’t easy. Luckily, many of the fight and stunt coordinators were the same people Renner worked with on The Avengers.
One of the stunts involved Aaron on a motorcycle, which took place on the crowded streets of Manila in the Philippines. Well, much of the stunts in this particular sequence were done with Renner actually riding the bike. Thankfully, Renner is an avid motorcyclist who owns more than 10 bikes. Even actress Weisz was OK with doing the stunts with Renner in these scenes.
In the production notes, she noted: “Being on the back of a bike with Jeremy, I felt completely safe. He was doing wheelies, skids and slides – those kind of stunts that he’s very good at.”
Even though Renner is good with bikes, he still had to make sure he was prepared for the different challenges the shoot threw at him.
“I had to get used to that motorcycle. It’s an on-road, off-road bike which is a different way to ride than the street bikes that I’m used to. It’s the opposite of almost everything I’ve ever ridden.
“I had to get used to that bike and then have someone on the back riding with me. If it was just me, I would have taken a few more risks but when I’m responsible for the person in the back, it’s a different thing. I just had to demonstrate due diligence and get used to that bike as much as I could.”
Another stunt saw Renner jumping into freezing cold water in the snowy mountains of Canada. Renner described the experience as a memorable moment.
“Being in the water at negative temperature – that was pretty intense. There’s nothing you can do to prepare for it. You just go in and freeze and hope your heart doesn’t stop.”
If the movie does well, Renner has no problem reprising the role in the future.
It has taken the actor a long time to arrive at a point where he is actually carrying the whole movie by himself. Renner has been acting since 1995, with his breakout role as serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in 2002’s Dahmer. However, his star never shone quite brightly even though he has played in numerous supporting roles in films like S.W.A.T., North Country, 28 Weeks Later and The Assassination Of Jesse James.
Renner’s career was pretty dire when the role for 2008’s The Hurt Locker came along and changed everything. After The Bourne Legacy, he has Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters followed by a James Gray project and a David O. Russell project.
“I feel like the luckiest guy around,” summed up Renner. “It’s nice to be able to work and it’s even nicer when people see your work. When it turns out well and does well at the box office, it’s even better. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
> The Bourne Legacy leaps into action in cinemas nationwide today.