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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Bourne Legacy

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Rachel Weisz and Jeremy Renner star in a scene from the movie "The Bourne Legacy."
Can the Bourne franchise continue without Matt Damon's Jason Bourne? If the mediocre extension "The Bourne Legacy" (Universal) is all we have to go on, perhaps the answer is: Yes, but with considerably diminished results.

Based on a series of novels by Robert Ludlum, the popular—albeit frequently violent—trilogy that began with 2002's "The Bourne Identity" reached a satisfying narrative wrap-up, five years later, with "The Bourne Ultimatum."

But Hollywood's reliance on proven box-office winners is such that an attempted resuscitation was probably inevitable. Though Damon abstained from participating, Tony Gilroy, veteran scribe of all three previous installments, returns to direct and co-write this tangentially related tale.

Standard shootouts, fatal vehicular accidents and at least one close-up scene of medical unpleasantness mark the results as off-limits for youngsters. Most adults, though, will probably take these elements—along with the script's occasional lapses into foul language—in stride.

In the wake of Bourne's public exposure of a top secret program that biologically altered government spies to enhance their skills, the intelligence establishment—led by retired Air Force Col. Eric Byer (Edward Norton)—decides to terminate a similar Defense Department project. Terminate, that is, with extreme prejudice: They plan to kill everyone involved.

However, one subject, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), manages to escape assassination. The weapon sent against him as he trains for future missions in the Alaskan wilderness? A drone; how topical!

Making his way back to civilization, Cross seeks out Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), the researcher who treated him as he was being endowed with his heightened powers. Shearing has just had a close call of her own—no coincidence, that—when a drugged or brainwashed colleague shot up their lab, thus disposing of all his other co-workers.

Together, the two survivors go on the lam, and struggle to evade their pursuers' global reach.

Though it winds up in Manila, Gilroy's convoluted cat-and-mouse game—written in collaboration with his brother Dan—doesn't amount to much of a thrilla.

With his subdued demeanor, Renner's Cross makes a less-than-charismatic centerpiece around which to try to orbit the overly detailed proceedings. Norton's Byer, meanwhile, gives vent to such weighty—make that ponderous—announcements as "We are morally indefensible, and absolutely necessary!"

Byer is also given no fewer than five malign cohorts (Stacy Keach, Dennis Boutsikaris, Albert Finney, David Strathairn and Scott Glenn) with whom to debate, in heated tones, the fate of various hidden organizations and codenamed schemes. Treadstone, Blackbriar, Outcome, Candent. ... "There was never just one," declares the movie's advertising slogan. Well, OK, but did there have to be so many?

The film contains considerable, at times harsh, violence with some gore, about a half-dozen uses each of profanity and crude language and a few crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Cyril and Methodius: Because their father was an officer in a part of Greece inhabited by many Slavs, these two Greek brothers ultimately became missionaries, teachers and patrons of the Slavic peoples. 
<p>After a brilliant course of studies, Cyril (called Constantine until he became a monk shortly before his death) refused the governorship of a district such as his brother had accepted among the Slavic-speaking population. Cyril withdrew to a monastery where his brother Methodius had become a monk after some years in a governmental post. </p><p>A decisive change in their lives occurred when the Duke of Moravia (present-day Czech Republic) asked the Eastern Emperor Michael for political independence from German rule and ecclesiastical autonomy (having their own clergy and liturgy). Cyril and Methodius undertook the missionary task. </p><p>Cyril’s first work was to invent an alphabet, still used in some Eastern liturgies. His followers probably formed the Cyrillic alphabet (for example, modern Russian) from Greek capital letters. Together they translated the Gospels, the psalter, Paul’s letters and the liturgical books into Slavonic, and composed a Slavonic liturgy, highly irregular then. </p><p>That and their free use of the vernacular in preaching led to opposition from the German clergy. The bishop refused to consecrate Slavic bishops and priests, and Cyril was forced to appeal to Rome. On the visit to Rome, he and Methodius had the joy of seeing their new liturgy approved by Pope Adrian II. Cyril, long an invalid, died in Rome 50 days after taking the monastic habit. </p><p>Methodius continued mission work for 16 more years. He was papal legate for all the Slavic peoples, consecrated a bishop and then given an ancient see (now in the Czech Republic). When much of their former territory was removed from their jurisdiction, the Bavarian bishops retaliated with a violent storm of accusation against Methodius. As a result, Emperor Louis the German exiled Methodius for three years. Pope John VIII secured his release. </p><p>Because the Frankish clergy, still smarting, continued their accusations, Methodius had to go to Rome to defend himself against charges of heresy and uphold his use of the Slavonic liturgy. He was again vindicated. </p><p>Legend has it that in a feverish period of activity, Methodius translated the whole Bible into Slavonic in eight months. He died on Tuesday of Holy Week, surrounded by his disciples, in his cathedral church. </p><p>Opposition continued after his death, and the work of the brothers in Moravia was brought to an end and their disciples scattered. But the expulsions had the beneficial effect of spreading the spiritual, liturgical and cultural work of the brothers to Bulgaria, Bohemia and southern Poland. Patrons of Moravia, and specially venerated by Catholic Czechs, Slovaks, Croatians, Orthodox Serbians and Bulgarians, Cyril and Methodius are eminently fitted to guard the long-desired unity of East and West. In 1980, Pope John Paul II named them additional co-patrons of Europe (with Benedict).</p> American Catholic Blog This is the beauty of self-giving love: Men and women, driven by love, freely choose to give up their autonomy, to limit their freedom, by committing themselves to the good of the spouse. Love is so powerful that it impels them to want to surrender their will to their beloved in this profound way.

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