The Bourne Legacy & The Queen Of Versailles

by antigob

The events in Bourne Legacy run parallel to those in the Bourne Ultimatum. As Jason Bourne causes havoc in London, Morocco and then New York, ‘Legacy is all about the men trying to clear up the evidence of Treadmill before it breaks.

Honestly, it was very confusing. But here goes. Two character actors meet in a wood paneled study to drink scotch and warn one another that they ‘better get a handle on the situation’. So they send in Eric Byer, played by Edward Norton to clear it up. Byer’s plan is to kill everyone, right now, everywhere, right away. And that includes Jeremy Renner who plays Aaron Cross, the greatest ever assassin, and Dr Marta Shearing a scientist from the Program. She’s played by Rachel Weisz and her role is to act as an exposition mirror for Aaron.

The best thing about the Bourne Legacy is Jeremy Renner and the bits at the beginning when he’s in Alaska. There’s some fantastic cinematography, good acting and dramatic tension. The rest of the film is about as pretty as a Big Mac meal dropped on the side of the road. There are many specific instances. Here’s one: Edward Norton’s character decides to kill all the scientists who make the green and blue pills the ‘Bournes’ take. What? Come again? The pills? Yep, they’re all medicated because the Program has moved on to genetic engineering through viral delivery. This could have been interesting. Aaron has to take a blue and green pill every I don’t know, 24 hours – call it a day – or something really bad happens. The Bourne Legacy could have been an intelligent version of Crank. There could have been some tension here. But you’re never really convinced he’s ever really going to have to go without his meds. So instead everything unfolds like a lie told by a sugar-rushed eight year old trying to explain away the empty biscuit barrel.

The problem with The Bourne Legacy is that it’s built around the assassin archetype. Hired killers look like exciting characters: they’re capable; mysterious; often dress well; are single-minded and exist outside society. They are not like us. They don’t care about the new iPhone. An assassin only looks at an iPhone to receive orders before smashing it to bits. However, the assassin’s job is that he or she is a tool to take human life. They act without passion, it’s just a job to them and they’ve turned off their humanity to do it. They’re not exactly sympathetic characters and we accept, but very rarely acknowledge, there’s something quite discomforting about spending two hours with people who kill – especially if they try to transcend their station. It’s precisely why the unnerving In Bruges worked and the glib Grosse Point Blank didn’t. Assassins distract with their capability, their flat-pack tech and their arsenal of euphemisms. Jason Bourne as a character is interesting because he’s been made to kill through a process of sinister reprogramming. Jason Bourne is not an assassin but a man trying to find himself. It’s probably why he ends up in Goa at the end of the first film. You never really get that here with Aaron Cross.

One of the more ironic parts of the Bourne Legacy is its use of actual assassins, namely drones. It felt like a tacit nod to the way the world is right now, and perhaps someone should make a film about that.

This documentary is a two-year slice of life about Jackie Siegel, a Florida trophy wife married to timeshare mogul David Siegel. At the start of the film they’ve almost built their new home, which is modeled on the original Palace of Versailles, except much bigger. It’s so big that when finished it’ll be the largest home in America. The Siegels need the space too; they have eight children and they’re quickly running out of room in their standard-sized mansion. Versailles will have two pools, a $5m marble floor, a bowling alley, an ice skating rink, two tennis courts and a baseball field. The kids will get their own wing and a staff of nineteen will look after the family.

The doc sets everything out quite nicely. The Siegels are not old money. David is a selfmade Republican who built his timeshare empire into the biggest in the world. He’s a good thirty years older than Jackie who reveals that when she realised she could just keep having children she went for it, and that David, ‘doesn’t need any Viagra.’ David comes across as a classic sitcom dad: he works hard; his wife spends all his money and he is swamped by his children. But he’s also a vain man. At one point he implicitly states that he helped President George W Bush win Florida during the 2000 election in a way ‘that may have not been legal’. David spends his time in his office, Jackie shops and the staff look after the kids.

Then the 2008 crash happens and their world starts to spin out of control. It seems David’s empire was built on cheap credit. Overnight his net value drops dramatically and David struggles to keep his business afloat and complete both Versailles, and his flagship timeshare complex in Las Vegas – a town that robbed his father of his fortune.

Lauren Greenfield’s Queen of Versailles is a warm and balanced study of how one outlandish family copes when their previously impervious situation suddenly changes. It could just be the film that best captures the depression.