The Bourne Legacy: Who is Aaron Cross?

The internet has been kind to cinema-goers this year. The hype, speculation and revelation surrounding the summer blockbusters is formidable, and for those waiting in eager anticipation to see what cinematic spectacles Christopher Nolan and Ridley Scott will unleash onto the silver screen, information is not hard to come by. Even The Hobbit has a teaser trailer up already, and we’ve still got seven months to wait before Jackson’s behemoth hits the big screen. Meanwhile, in a manner as secretive as its shadowy subject matter, Tony Gilroy and the crew behind The Bourne Legacy have been maintaining a tight-lipped silence regarding the details of the latest addition to the Bourne franchise.

Consider Universal’s own plot summary: ‘Aaron Cross, a new hero, experiences life-or-death stakes that have been triggered by previous events.’ It’s impressively ambiguous, and the intense two minute teaser trailer reveals only a little more. We see Jeremy Renner’s character Aaron Cross going through the same initiation process endured by Damon’s Jason Bourne in the previous films, followed by snippets of action in the familiar Bourne style: brutal and inventive combat and breathtaking chases. Judging even from these scenes, previous director Paul Greengrass’ absence won’t be a problem, with the breathless pace of the old Bourne films seemingly recreated in this latest incarnation.

Information on Renner’s character is non-existent beyond the trailer and plot summary. Apparently another Treadstone agent (the government organisation that Matt Damon’s character killed for, and eventually destroyed, in the original trilogy), Aaron Cross seems to be someone with Bourne’s capacity to frustrate and outmanoeuvre the entire CIA, who are again attempting to eliminate one of their own homemade killing machines.

Turning to less reliable sources, one IMDB user claims to have seen an early screening of the film, and explains that Aaron Cross finds himself on the wrong end of the CIA’s cleanup operation following the mess left by Jason Bourne at the end of The Bourne Ultimatum. This, of course, is entirely unconfirmed, but it would explain the reappearance of familiar faces from the original trilogy, as well as the new film’s name: Cross is literally a victim of Jason Bourne’s legacy. With nothing more to go on, Bourne fans can only wait eagerly for the next scrap of information to be tossed from the cutting room table.

This speculation offers an interesting topic for debate: should films follow in the model of Prometheus and release a whole slew of trailers, images and snippets of information in order to sustain hype, or is it preferable for studios to employ the Bourne method of keeping any information a secret? Personally, I enjoy the scavenger hunt for details that precedes any big movie release, but equally some of my fondest cinema memories are of being blown away by films which I knew next to nothing about.

Regardless of its method of marketing, with a breathtaking trailer and a formidable cast, including the creative force behind the previous trilogy, Tony Gilroy, and the acting muscle of Jeremy Renner and Edward Norton, The Bourne Legacy looks likely to be one of the highlights of a formidable summer of cinema. As Norton’s enigmatic villain exclaims in the teaser trailer, ‘Jason Bourne was just the tip of the iceberg’.

By Joe Rollins

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