When news broke that scenes of the Hollywood movie The Bourne Legacy will be shot in the Philippines, excitement spread like wildfire. Interest about the film grew when it was announced that the shooting will happen in the streets of Manila.
Local media religiously covered the 45-day shoot that took place from January 2012 to mid-February. Many Filipinos trooped to the shooting locations to catch a glimpse of stars Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz. Traffic re-routing schemes caused traffic jams that irked motorists.
The highly publicized shooting schedule and intensive media coverage made the Filipino movie-going public curious about the movie, making them pine for the day when they can finally see the film.
Now that the day has come, is all the hype worth the price of admission?
The Bourne Legacy is the fourth in a franchise that was adapted from Robert Ludlum’s spy novels. The first three movie in the Bourne series—The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Bourne Ultimatum—starred Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, a secret agent who has retrograde amnesia. In the course of three films, Bourne realizes that the agency he is working for is the real nemesis.
The Bourne Legacy, on the other hand, features a new protagonist in the person of Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), who realizes that the agency that created him is out to kill him. He asks help from Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), a scientist who becomes attached to the superspy.
Jeremy races through the streets and even rooftops of Manila with a genetically modified assassin in hot pursuit.
Jeremy and Rachel also have to deal with the powerful head of the National Research Assay Group Eric Byer (played by Edward Norton).
The plot of The Bourne Legacy happens in the course of The Bourne Ultimatum, with the former making references to previous installments of the action/spy thriller.
On top of all these is the complexity of The Bourne Legacy’s plot. There are blue pills, green pills, anti-virals, mind conditioning, secret agents, assassins of secret agents, congressional hearings, and state-of-the-art technology.
Filipino viewers expecting to see scenes from the Philippines will be delighted because the two-hour movie contains 40 minutes of sequences shot in Manila.
In fact, when the character of Rachel announces that their target location is Manila, the Philippines, some Pinoy moviegoers spontaneously burst into applause.
The historic city of Intramuros serves as the setting of a flashback set in a war-torn area.
For those who are familiar with the geography of Manila, it’s a bit disorienting to watch the sequence of the chase scene. For instance, the lead stars were driving their motorcycle through a bridge in Manila and they suddenly exit the Navotas fish market. However, those who can suspend their disbelief will have a good time watching the chase involving ubiquitous Philippine-made jeepneys.
The chase scenes are well-executed but unlike previous installments of the Bourne franchise, there is less emphasis on hand-to-hand combat.
The Bourne Legacy could give local film studios some ideas on how to shoot action scenes in our own streets.
Seeing Filipino actors in the big-budgeted production is also an added treat.
There’s a scene on top of an overpass filled with Pinoy extras. In case you missed it, Joel Torre is briefly seen picking up oranges that were scattered at the overpass. In fact, Joel is included in the credits as “Citrus Samaritan.”
John Arcilla has the longest exposure when he appears as a Filipino security guard (with a noticeable American accent).
Theatre veteran Anne Garcia plays a mother who panics when the character of Rachel Weisz enters her shanty.
Of all the Filipino actors, Lou Veloso gives the best performance as a fisherman who helps the two lead characters.
In sum, The Bourne Legacy is a notable thriller that takes it cues from complicated but engrossing spy fiction. Filipino viewers expecting to see that will not be disappointed.
Rated PG-13 by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, this action/spy thriller is currently being screened in Philippine cinemas.
Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial team.