When Jason Bourne finally got revenge (and his memory back) in The Bourne Ultimatum, fans of the hyper-kinectic espionage saga rightly thought it was the end of the story. Turns out it was only start of a much bigger one.
The Bourne Legacy – which is released in cinemas on August 13 – relegates Matt Damon’s amnesiac rogue agent to the sidelines as Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross steps into the spotlight.
As tough, resourceful and seemingly unstoppable as Bourne, Cross also benefits from an experimental drug that sharpens his instincts to almost supernatural levels. The new film picks up after the events of the previous Bourne films as he and his fellow Outcome agents (an offshoot of the infamous Project Treadstone) are summarily singled out for execution. On the run with only scientist Marta Shearling (Rachel Weisz) as an ally, he’ll need all his training to stay alive.
Here, Renner, Weisz and writer/director Tony Gilroy talk about bringing the franchise back to screens…
What was the thinking behind continuing the saga?
Tony Gilroy: We wanted to create a larger conspiracy. The conceit here is that everything we were seeing before in the previous films was sort of housed in one arena and we’re saying that you were only seeing one ring of the circus, one small portion of something that’s much larger.
Tell us about how Aaron Cross makes his introduction…
Jeremy Renner: Aaron Cross is out in the wilderness on a kind of scavenger hunt that his bosses have sent him on to keep him busy. In the meantime, they realise that the programme is out of control and they decide to shut it down. They try to wipe out anybody who knows about Outcome, so they try to take Marta out too. She needs me to survive physically and I need her to survive to keep giving me the pills to keep my mind and body sharp. It’s a great set-up, like each other or not, we need each other to live.
How does Aaron Cross compare to Jason Bourne?
Tony Gilroy: He’s just as physically powerful as Bourne but there’s also this ability to blend in. There’s an emotional intelligence, this amped neural capacity, that makes him really adaptive in a way that you never saw with Bourne. He’s always probing, he’s always curious and always aggressive about fitting in, it’s a much larger job description that he has. Through the science they’ve developed, they give him these enhancements that make him enlightened.
How does Marta Shearling fit into the story?
Rachel Weisz: I think the really interesting thing about Marta, my character, is that she’s working in science at the cutting edge of her field and she’s very excited about what it is that she’s doing, the project is very highly funded by the government, but there are some things that she doesn’t know and some questions she’s told not to ask. I think that situation suits her because she’s a bright person and if she started to think about what she was doing she would know there was a huge moral compromise going on. It’s kind of don’t ask, don’t tell.
Tony Gilroy was the writer on the first three Bourne films, how have you found him as director on this one?
Rachel Weisz: Tony is a very unusual director, I’ve never come across a man like him before. He’s very intelligent, he’s an incredible wordsmith, he’s got a great sense of order and control – all things that you need to be able to direct. But he also loves chaos and I think that’s how you get the raw, kinetic, edgy acting style that makes the Bourne movies work so well. I’ve never come across anybody with that sort of combination, there’s something very rock ‘n’ roll about him.
Were you conscious of trying to outdo the action sequences from the previous films?
Jeremy Renner: I think we did some really cool stuff. We really concentrated on getting things looking realistic and authentic but also making something that people haven’t seen before.
Rachel Weisz: The thing I like about Bourne is the level of realism. The stunts look and feel very realistic partly because of Dan Bradley’s [second unit director and stunt co-ordinator who worked on the last two Bourne films] great skill at directing stunts and partly because they pretty much were real.
There’s a very intense motorbike chase scene through the packed streets of Manila in the Philippines. Did you feel the danger shooting that?
Rachel Weisz: I’ve not done a lot of motorbike riding. It’s a very different thing driving a bike and being ridden so I just had to trust Jeremy. There were also hundreds and hundreds of extras driving cars around us, so it wasn’t just a case of trusting Jeremy – which I did – it was also a case of trusting all these random people. The probability of an accident occurring was pretty high as far as I was concerned. The good thing about it is that I didn’t have to act, I was just absolutely terrified.
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