There’s a scene in The Bourne Legacy where a puzzled Jeremy Renner askswhy they have to go to Manila, and you expect the leading lady to say, “Because it’s more fun in the Philippines!”
Must be true, that’s why no need for her to say it? More than 50 percent of the excitement is driven by chase scenes – on foot and on two wheels – through the congested streets of Manila, i.e., Metro Manila. Riding in tandem on a stolen motorcycle, our hero and heroine give us an unguided tour as they snake in and out of traffic, inserting themselves like insects between four-wheeled vehicles, in an attempt to shake off cops and a made-to-order assassin from Bangkok. Renner jumps and slides from G.I. rooftops and Weisz runs for dear life between walls along a narrow eskinita, but while she’s sweating in a sleeveless shirt, he has to sweat it out in a black jacket (remember our action heroes, circa the generation of FPJ, who couldn’t fight or shoot unless they were wearing a black jacket?).
Traveling from east to west in my seat as I followed the action, I barely paid attention to the first half of the movie, filmed in Canada (doubling as Alaska), Korea and the US. How boring those places must be, everything so efficient and everyone so sufficient! Pakistan is mentioned, but one look tells you the location is borrowed from the Philippines. I paid lots of attention to the PH scenery – so many places I’ve not been to, such as a Navotas fish port without the fish – and I have to agree, on the silver screen our cities are as “gritty” as they come, for Hollywood purposes, never mind that as Weisz’ character puts it, PH is “on the other side of the planet.”
It has to be, for an island to be as distantly beautiful as Palawan and tempt “Aaron” and “Martha” to just “get lost.”