Thursday, May 31, 2012

Watch/Discuss: The Bourne Legacy depressingly casts Rachel Weisz as neither hero or villain, but 'the girl'.

The most annoying thing about noticing gender issues in films and television is that you can't *not* notice them when its inconvenient.  So while this second trailer for The Bourne Redundancy, err The Bourne Legacy, has a crap-load of great actors, some solid stunt-work, and a time-twisty narrative that seemingly takes place at the same time as The Bourne Ultimatum.  But couldn't the screenwriters think of something more original than "Jeremy Renner rescues his hot doctor from bad guys and takes her on the run with him"?  Rachel Weisz is an Oscar winner and one of the better actresses of her generation, but whenever she treads into big-studio productions she almost always finds herself as the 'tag-along girl'.  Whether in Chain Reaction (one of her first films back in 1996), Constantine (ironically both with Keanu Reeves), and now in this production, she's the pretty face who gets caught up in the hero's peril and gets dragged along and periodically rescued from scary bad guys.  Yes the first film had a 'drag-along girl' (Franka Potente), but the film went out of its way to emphasize just how much danger Jason Bourne was putting her and her family in by virtue of his intrusion.  It's a big difference: potential menace versus lily-white savior.

Obviously this is the template for any number of older thrillers (especially the 1970s-types that the Bourne films often try to emulate), but its still dispiriting to see an actress who damn-well should either get her own action film or at least get to play a villain taking a role where she's 'the pretty girl in peril'.  Aside from that core narrative annoyance, the film looks okay. I still laugh at how the film seems to be selling the idea that Jeremy Renner's character is "Jason Bourne... IN THE EXTREME!" and trying desperately to convince you that this spin-off makes sense in the already established world.  Obviously Universal is very considered about how a Bourne film without Jason Bourne will actually sell, hence the several audio/visual references to Matt Damon's Jason Bourne.  As such, the trailer is actually somewhat confusing since it spends its second act rehashing the third film before launching into its own narrative again.  Anyway, Live and Let Die 2.0 debuts on August 3rd.  As always, we'll see.

Scott Mendelson  


Dara Salley said...

Does Rachel Weisz bear any responsibility for accepting such a role?

cary said...

"'s the most exciting development in the history of science"
It sounds like a stolen line from Chain Reaction. Is Bourne movie a sci-fi now?

Ekpookwong93 said...

You neglected to mention the movie that probably helped Hollywood, and the public at large, see Weisz as nothing more than love interest fodder THE MUMMY back in '99.

Honestly with the exception of Sandra Bullock in SPEED (helped by a Joss Whedon rewritten script that made her character the movie's other heroic protagonist) has any actress, aside from exposure, really gotten to leading role stardom on the back of playing a female love interest in a summer blockbuster?

Scott Mendelson said...

I didn't mention the Mummy films because they don't apply. Weisz's librarian was a co-lead with Brendan Fraser, the brain to his brawn. She had just as much screen-time as he and had far more of a role to play other than just 'the love interest'. If anything, Fraser was the tag-along guy, as she picked him for the expedition in the first film.

Scott Mendelson said...

Yes, yes she does. But this is more a commentary of an industry that doesn't seem to have much better options in mainstream cinema for someone of Weisz's caliber.


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