August 12, 2012 -- Call it a sequel, or a reboot, it is another movie in the very successful series of films about a rogue super spy. Matt Damon, who played Jason Bourne in the first three movies, decided to opt out of this one. Not wanting to miss out on a potential megamillion dollar jackpot, the studio had a story written to introduce a new rogue super spy, the genetically-engineered Aaron Cross, played by Jeremy Renner of “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”.
Cross represents the next step in the evolution of the secret super spy program once named Treadstone, of which Jason Bourne was a product. Whereas Bourne was merely the product of behavioral conditioning to be a killing machine, Cross has been genetically engineered to be a stronger, faster, smarter killing machine, who just happens to be irresistible to women, too.
When the Treadstone project and a similar project, Blackbriar, are exposed to the world, U.S. Government officials decide to shut down their own, even more advanced super spy project before it is discovered too. Even though Blackbriar and Treadstone are exposed and the administrators are killed or jailed, there are always more bosses higher up to carry on these deadly secret programs. It is a conspiracy with a seemingly infinite number of layers.
The two bad bureaucrats pulling the strings this time are Eric Bryer (played by Edward Norton of “Fight Club”) and Mark Turso (Stacy Keach of “Machete”). They order the deaths of Cross and all the other super spies, as well as the deaths of the medical research team who developed the genetic research used in the program. The problem with this strategy is that the more people involved in these murders, the more people there are to leak the information they are supposed to be covering up. As in most conspiracy theories, there are always too many people in on the secret. I think it was Mark Twain who said that two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead.
The lone survivors of this massacre are Cross and Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz of “The Constant Gardener”). Cross seeks out Marta because she has the medical knowledge he needs to cure a medical condition brought about by the drugs he was given in the super spy program. Cross and Marta are both targeted for death and are both on the run from government operatives.
The plot cleverly picks up where the last Bourne movie left off, and it gives us a look at what is to come from the series in the future, but it does leave some things hanging, like what ever became of Jason Bourne? This seems to be a kind of transition story which gets us from here to there without really adding up to anything. It doesn't have a satisfactory conclusion, but it does leave the door wide open for more sequels, which, I guess, is the whole point of this empty exercise in commercial film making. This film rates a C+.
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