A burgeoning triple threat stage performer who has made the most of his opportunities in theater, dancer-actor-singer Michael Berresse was an accomplished gymnast who gave dance a try when he began to...
Do the Bourne movies make any sense? Enough. The first three films — The Bourne Identity Supremacy and Ultimatum — throw in just enough detail into the covert ops babble and high-speed action that by the end Jason Bourne comes out an emotional character with an evident mission. That's where Bourne Legacy drops the ball. A "sidequel" to the original trilogy Legacy follows super soldier Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) as he runs jumps and shoots his way out of the hands of his government captors. The film is identical to its predecessors; political intrigue chase scenes morally ambiguous CIA agents monitoring their man-on-the-run from a computer-filled HQ — a Bourne movie through and through. But Legacy has to dig deeper to find new ground to cover introducing elements of sci-fi into the equation. The result is surprisingly limp and even more incomprehensible.
Damon's Bourne spent three blockbusters uncovering his past erased by the assassin training program Treadstone. Renner's Alex Cross has a similar do-or-die mission: after Bourne's antics send Washington into a tizzy Cross' own training program Outcome is terminated. Unlike Bourne Cross is enhanced by "chems" (essentially steroid drugs) that keep him alive and kicking ass. When Outcome is ended Cross goes rogue to stay alive and find more pills.
Steeped heavily in the plot lines of the established mythology Bourne Legacy jumps back and forth between Cross and the clean up job of the movie's big bad (Edward Norton) and his elite squad of suits. The movie balances a lot of moving parts but the adventure never feels sprawling or all that exciting. Actress Rachel Weisz vibrant in nearly every role she takes on plays a chemist who is key to Cross' chemical woes. The two are forced into partnership Weisz limited to screaming cowering and sneaking past the occasional airport x-ray machine while her partner aggressively fistfights his way through any hurdle in his path. Renner is equally underserved. Cross is tailored to the actor's strengths — a darker more aggressive character than Damon's Bourne but with one out of every five of the character's lines being "CHEMS!" shouted at the top of his lungs Renner never has the time or the material to develop him.
Writer/director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton Duplicity and the screenwriter of the previous three movies) is a master of dense language but his style choices can't breath life into the 21st century epic speak. In the film's necessary car chase Gilroy mimics the loose camera style of Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass without fully embracing it. The wishy washy approach sucks the life out of large-scale set pieces. The final 30 minutes of Bourne Legacy is a shaky cam naysayer's worst nightmare.
The Bourne Legacy demonstrates potential without ever kicking into high gear. One scene when Gilroy finally slows down and unleashes absolute terror on screen is striking. Unfortunately the moment doesn't involve our hero and its implications never explained. That sums up Legacy; by the film's conclusion it only feels like the first hour has played out. The movie crawls — which would be much more forgivable if the intense banter between its large ensemble carried weight. Instead Legacy packs the thrills of an airport thriller: sporadically entertaining and instantly forgettable.
Turned down college acceptances at Yale and Northwestern to take a dance job at Orlando's Disney World; within two years became a top choreographer for the park
Originated the role of Fred Casely in "Chicago" in the Encores! staging; moved with the show to Broadway; understudied lead role of lawywer Billy Flynn
By age 15 had segued to dance when height began to interfere with gymnastics career
Appeared in the feature film adaptation of Paul Rudnick's "Jeffrey"
Had supporting role of Bill Calhoun in the Broadway revival of "Kiss Me, Kate", earning nominations for a Featured Actor Tony and Male Dancer Astaire Award
Was a dancer in the Encores! concert presentation of "One Touch of Venus" at the City Center Theater in NYC
Played pivotal role in "A.I. Artificial Intelligence"
Displayed a broad comic range with a supporting role in a revival of Irving Berlin's Marx Brothers musical "The Cocoanuts"
Performed in a revival of the musical "Damn Yankees" staged at San Diego's famed Old Globe Theater
Appeared in the Toronto staging of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"
Took over the role of slickster Billy Flynn in "Chicago"
Starred in the short-lived Broadway revue "The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm"
Raised in Joliet, Illinois
Participated in readings of "Never Gonna Dance", a stage musical based on the Astaire-Rogers movie "Swing Time"
Joined "Damn Yankees" for its Broadway run at the Marquis Theater, eventually playing lead of Joe Hardy
Was featured in the touring production of "Busker Alley/Stage Door Charley/Buskers", a musical about street performers in 1930s London starring Tommy Tune
At age seven, began studying gymnastics
Moved to NYC to pursue a stage career
Landed a chorus role in "Fiddler on the Roof"; marked Broadway debut
A burgeoning triple threat stage performer who has made the most of his opportunities in theater, dancer-actor-singer Michael Berresse was an accomplished gymnast who gave dance a try when he began to outgrow the compact physical frame that those athletes generally possess. Dark-haired, handsome and uncommonly agile and energetic, Berresse had irrepressible charisma, and cultivated a charm that was palpable all the way to the last row in the balcony. A veteran dancer/choreographer with Disney Theme Parks, he moved to NYC in 1987 to break into theater.
Starting out as a chorus and ensemble player, Berresse was afforded few actual occasions to act with his stage time, but did build up an impressive resume of credits beginning with 1990's Broadway revival of "Fiddler on the Roof". In 1992, he joined the Toronto production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", starring Donny Osmond, and was featured the following year in the revival of "Damn Yankees", staged at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre. When the production moved to Broadway's Marquis Theater, Berresse returned to the Great White Way and eventually assumed the leading role of Joe Hardy. 1995 saw him take on a role alongside Tommy Tune in the regional touring company of "Busker Alley" (also titled "Stage Door Charley" and "Buskers"), a musical set within a group of street performers in 1930s London. He was able to prove his range with the broader comedy "The Cocoanuts", written by Irving Berlin and made famous by the Marx Brothers. Manhattan's City Center Theater hosted a 1996 concert presentation of "One Touch of Venus" that featured Berresse's footwork, but that year's popular revival of "Chicago" would prove to be the catalyst for the performer's career boost.
Berresse took the role of doomed Fred Casely (murdered after jilting siren Roxie Hart six minutes into the show), and understudied the meatier part of slick defense attorney Billy Flynn, actually defending his own murder on nights that he stepped in for the role. In 1998, he assumed the co-starring role in a move that would establish the performer as a viable and versatile actor as well as talented song and dance man. He toured as Flynn in "Chicago" and in 1999 took a starring role in the short-lived Broadway revue "The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm". The curtain fell on that production soon after it raised, but Berresse bounced back shortly thereafter with a featured part in the celebrated 1999 Broadway revival of "Kiss Me, Kate". In this legendary play-within-a-play, he portrayed Bill Calhoun/Luciento, and drew on his gymnastic training to turn in a remarkable performance with a jaw-dropping number featuring some amazing acrobatics, dancing, leaping, flipping and virtually flying all around the three story set. Luckily for the production and for his further career, his work in "Kiss Me, Kate" didn't go unnoticed. In addition to glowing reviews and enviable buzz, Berresse was rewarded with a Tony nomination for Featured Actor in a Musical and was selected as one of three male nominees for the Astaire Award, a dance honor.
Michael Berresse on the acrobatic stunts he performs on Broadway as star of "Kiss Me, Kate": "So far I've been lucky. The real danger for me is becoming blase about what I do. The margin for error is so tiny in 'Kiss Me, Kate', I have to keep my emotions in check. I can't get too excited or too happy until the number is over with.
"I just love knowing that the audience is so thrilled to see something they've never seen before. It's a joyous, joyous feeling." --quoted in New York Post, March 14, 2000