10 August 2012

The Bourne Legacy's Manila Scenes not for Tourists

If you have not gone to see The Bourne Legacy yet, well then make your plans. I am not about to spoil your enjoyment by telling you the story; but the motorcycle chase scenes alone along Metro Manila’s crowded streets will make the trip to the cinema well worth the bother.

I am normally patient enough to wait till a movie comes out in DVD or even until it is shown on HBO – but like most everyone else I was caught up in the hype surrounding this movie because parts of it were shot in Metro Manila.

While it was suggested before that the movie could spawn enough interest in the country to crank up tourist arrivals, after watching it I seriously doubt the validity of the suggestion.

There is no doubt that The Bourne Legacy captures and presents Manila authentically. That said, the authenticity is in the rusty corrugated iron roofs; the narrow alleys separating houses; the bumper-to-bumper traffic; and the overflow of people on the streets. Not at all your typical come-on for tourists.

If at all, the ending scenes with Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz sailing away on a rusty boat were the only touristy presentation of the country. Shot in Palawan, the deep blue waters and small islands were postcard-perfect. That said, the scene was too generic and could have been shot anywhere in Southeast Asia.

Take away my interest in the movie as a Filipino and the movie I will say is still very much watchable. The plot is intricate enough and the pacing rather fast. The frequent segues from present day to flashback, however, can be confusing. Perhaps that is just the director’s way of telling the viewer not to let his mind wander away while watching.

The edge-of-seat stuff all involve Renner’s character of Aaron Cross. First, in Alaska trying to outwit an armed drone – an unmanned aircraft – sent to liquidate him; then while he saves Weisz’s character of Dr. Martha Shearing in the latter’s own home from a liquidation squad.

The real edge-of-seat stuff is reserved for the streets of Metro Manila. Some of the stunts are simply electrifying, particularly as Cross and Shearing weave through traffic on a stolen bike trying to escape an assassin.

One can only marvel at the amount of meticulous planning that went into making that chase scene. Traffic is moving and some of the most exciting shots are shown at street level. The viewer feels like he is right there being a voyeur to the real thing.

What a pity that the chase ends rather lamely and will probably leave many viewers thinking that it could have gone better. Then, as Cross and Shearing sail away into a blue tropical scene, one comes quickly into an inevitable conclusion: there is another sequel coming.

Many people in this country who will watch will, naturally, be impatiently waiting for the Metro Manila scenes. I would say off the top of my head that these comprise only a third – maybe less – of the movie.

However, if there will indeed be another sequel and the story will be picked up from this movie’s ending, who knows? Maybe both Renner and Weisz will be back in the country soon!

There is a first time for everything, so why not a segment of a hit Hollywood movie series shot entirely in the Philippines?

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