Last night my wife and I celebrated our 9th anniversary by watching The Bourne Legacy, a choice that was not mine by the way. Melissa wanted to see The Dark Knight Rises on her birthday and Bourne Legacy on our anniversary, so I’m not complaining.
There was one scene that I really liked in The Bourne Legacy that very well could have been a disaster (if you are planning on seeing this film, mild spoilers follow).
It’s The Lab Scene, and when you see the film you will know the scene to which I’m referring. I cannot remember a scene in recent mainstream cinema as visceral and horrific that also managed to maintain a real respect for human life. Every death in this scene is horrible, and while I knew nothing about the lives of these characters, I felt for the deaths.
But at a certain point in the film the no-named characters embrace their role in an action film: to serve as soulless obstacles that invariably get shrugged off as collateral damage. The higher-ups kind of have it coming, but when Renner’s Cox snaps the neck of an unnamed security guard in a pharmaceutical plant, I was shocked.
I felt the other three Bourne films were less cynical about these types of characters. Sure Bourne would rough some lower-levels up, but usually he only killed those who knew what they had gotten into.
For some time these chase scenes have been bothering me because the ends always justify the means, no matter how selfish those ends can be. In Legacy, the end is just escape-the world is not going to end.
Some time back my friend Josh Crute (who is graduating from FSU film school today! *CHEERS*) and I had thought about making a short film called Happy Endings in which a series of vignettes of different citizens’ lives are shown right before they are killed. It almost functions as some kind of Final Destination-type film.
At the end we are treated to a chase scene in which some masked superhero or supercop is chasing the villain. The good guy wins, but at the end, we get five or six other angles of the everyday citizen’s deaths, and that’s when you realize that their deaths were direct results of the hero’s good intent.
So that film was the tragic commentary on collateral damage in chase scenes.
Bharat’s Chai Stand is the comic commentary on it: what if a bunch of the bystanders had enough of Jason Bourne wreaking havoc in their gulleys?
What if they fought back?
What if they won?