Trailer Truth: Do the Ads Help or Hurt 'The Bourne Legacy'?

Trailer Truth: Do the Ads Help or Hurt 'The Bourne Legacy'?

Aug 11, 2012

I never watch a trailer until after I’ve seen the movie, and I also attempt to avoid as much news as possible. Then I compare what I knew, to what you knew. Let’s find out if what we see in the trailer is what we get, and if there is any advantage to going in fresh. (There will be spoilers.)

What I Knew Before: You think Bourne was the only one? Think again. He was just the tip of the iceberg. Those lines, or something like that seemed almost unavoidable for me. I know, most of the time I'm able to duck and dodge the trailers and TV spots. I'm holding the remote in my hand, ready to fast forward through the ads, and bam! Just like a Jason Bourne right hook, I'm smacked with dialogue from the film. I knew Jeremy Renner was taking over for Matt Damon in the lead role and the iceberg in question. I kept forgetting, then pleasantly remembering Edward Norton would be after Renner on some level. Would this play out like a Bourne or a Fugitive ? Would this feel like a carbon copy of The Bourne Identity? Who would be the lead actress? Let's find out.

What I Knew After: There will be a lot of talk about the Bourne franchise being rebooted. I had no idea the film was going to be a tangled extension of this fictitious world. I actually believe they've intertwined everything so well that it's no longer the Bourne trilogy, but now the Bourne tetralogy, which will probably become a pentalogy. I know, not as catchy. Rachel Weisz plays our damsel in distress. Normally this type of role is quite annoying. The lead action hero/heroine has to drag along someone who is constantly hysterical and always messing things up. I think the character and Weisz's performance find the perfect balance.

While I've liked Renner, he didn't impress me with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol or The Avengers. He fits very well into the Bourne world. For a while, I felt like I should have done more homework (rewatch the three films). Then I realized this movie feels just like the others, with intrigue coming from half sentences and big words. At its core, it is basic, solid action, done really well. I assume the trailer will focus on Legacy being the same, but different. I'm really curious if it will focus on the medication/procedure of Renner's type of super solider at all, which I thought was a great addition to the story. Plus, if I were the trailer makers, I'd showcase Norton, who somehow elevates a very ordinary role.


What You Knew: "What's your name?" Sounds like an easy question, but you never know when you're dealing with a solider they are trying to make super. Renner volunteers for the program, Norton agrees with his decision, and then Renner kicks someone's butt. Weisz shows up in a lab coat. On-screen: THERE WAS NEVER JUST ONE. Norton says, "Jason Bourne was the tip of the iceberg." Now we have Aaron Cross. Apparently, he's even better than Bourne because, "We've never seen evaluations like this."

Renner's beard shows up, more super agents show up, and there's talk of Jason Bourne in Manhattan. Wow, there are tons of characters back from the other films. Assets, otherwise known as humans turned soldiers, drop dead. Our boy Renner avoids a missile, then one of Weisz's coworkers goes crazy with a gun at work. Renner finally speaks again! At nearly the two-minute mark he says he wants to live, and it seems he wants to bring Weisz along for the ride. "You think that Jason Bourne is the whole story?" There's some motorcycle chasing, a tease of potential romance, and then more motorcycle chasing. Renner then leaps two buildings and saves Weisz. "Let's go." Umm... not so fast.

Trailer Truth: The Bourne Legacy trailer reeks of desperation. I really liked the film, but that's not what this article is about. This is about a trailer representing the film well. The marketers took some leaps in the hopes of getting you in the theater. In the trailer when Norton says, "There is nothing you wouldn't do for this country," he's not speaking to Renner. This is just a tiny example, but it always irks me when marketing changes a film's intent for trailer purposes. There are plenty more. This is going to get a little spoiler-y, so you are warned. The cabin explosion and coworker shooting employees are complete surprises that this trailer steps on. In the film, when the other super soldiers drop dead, they attempt to establish a quick emotional connection with the audience. It worked for me. But with you seeing the preview, it will simply seem oddly slow, and you'll be waiting for those characters to die off.

The leap Renner takes at the end of the trailer is edited from the film to look much, much bigger. So, if you remember that part, when you see it in the film, it will seem tiny in comparison. The final chase, even how the final chase ends, is in the trailer as well. Marketers should rarely touch third-act material for a trailer, but there it is. Plus, there is constant talk about how Jason wasn't the only one, and that Aaron is better. On some small level, I actually believe constantly saying that in the trailer can work against the film's potential. Damon is one of the most likable movie stars out there.

Plus, people loved the Bourne character. To constantly say this new guy is better, makes us want to defend Damon. The trailer should have allowed us to decide if Renner's character was better/stronger/faster, instead of hitting us over the head with people saying he is. I believe the movie does this well. The Cross Connection doesn't sound nearly as good as The Bourne Legacy so I understand the reason for the name, especially considering Universal has a franchise they desperately want to continue. Unfortunately, this trailer is just that, desperate, giving too much away. Which is too bad, because I think the quality of the movie speaks for itself.

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