THE BOURNE LEGACY
Daredevil Action: Stunts of the Film
No Bourne film would be complete without its fair share of action. Still,
emphasizes Marshall: "Our rules that we have been very consistent with through
all the movies is that we don't have action for action's sake. We don't have a
formula where every 10 minutes there has to be a fight scene or an action scene.
The action has to be driven by the story. That's what makes this series unique:
These characters get into situations that lead to an action scene or a chase
scene, but it all has a story point."
The architect behind the stunt work on The Bourne Legacy is 2nd unit director
Dan Bradley, who returns after making his mark as the creator of the dazzling
action sequences in The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. After the
first unit wrapped its work in Palawan in the beginning of February 2012,
Bradley's unit filmed for another month in Manila, with Renner and Weisz joining
Renner is the first to admit that the stunt work wasn't easy. He says: "This
was very, very demanding. I was lucky enough because many of the fight
the stunt coordinators and Dan Bradley were on The Avengers and the three movies
I did back-to-back right before this movie. Working with them was seamless. I
had learned hand-to-hand combat on Avengers, so I took that over to this and
actually used patterns. I had a nice running start."
"Having Dan Bradley involved in the Bourne movies has been an enormous part
of their success," Crowley raves. "People love the locations, they love the
characters, but they really love the action. Dan invented action for these
movies that nobody had ever seen before, and action that people have imitated
after it was done."
Gilroy is just as effusive in his praise: "Dan's the Michelangelo of action.
He's an amazing guy, an imaginative nut who has found this incredible job for
himself helping out directors like myself to make us look tougher than we really
are. I made sure to get with him early on, and I told him, 'Dan, if I'm going to
do this, I need you there with me.'"
Of course, Bradley traveled to Manila months before shooting began in order
to tailor the action sequences to the locations. "When we looked at the
locations, he was with us, and then he said, 'I'm going to stay behind for a
week,'" Crowley recalls. "We waited for Dan to just sit and meditate and come up
with great ideas. He's come up with some things that have never been done
Bradley's biggest task was to choreograph a motorcycle chase that takes place
on the crowded streets of Manila, much of it filmed with Renner in the rider's
seat. "When you're doing something in which there's somebody on a motorcycle and
they're not wearing a helmet, you have to have the principal actor do that,"
says Crowley. "So we had Jeremy very much involved, and Rachel as well."
Luckily for the production, Renner is an avid motorcyclist. "When I first met
Jeremy, we were going to have some practice sessions, and he showed up on one of
the fastest motorcycles in the world, which was one of 10 that he owned,"
remembers Crowley. "We felt comfortable that we didn't have to train him. He has
the bones of an action hero. When I see him, I see that silent strength of Steve
McQueen. When he gets on a motorcycle, then he becomes even more like him."
Renner also put Weisz at ease as they worked with Bradley. "Being on the back
of a bike with Jeremy, I felt completely safe," she says. "He was doing
wheelies, skids and slides-those kind of stunts that he's very good at."
The filmmakers were also impressed when Weisz displayed a previously unseen
side: that of an action star. "She's a great actress and has shown all this
incredible talent playing characters who are typically not action characters,"
says Crowley. But Weisz insisted on as much rehearsal on the motorcycle as
possible and performed much of the stunt work herself. Laughs the producer:
"Your heart still goes into your throat when you see her going 45, 50 miles an
hour on the motorcycle with Jeremy."
Prior to filming in Manila, Bradley's team spent several weeks rehearsing the
motorcycle stunts, while special equipment was brought in, including Bradley's
own "Go Mobile," a custom-made vehicle upon which several cameras may be
mounted. Bradley also recruited several expert motorcyclists, including
professional stunt driver JEAN-PIERRE GOY, arguably one of the best in the
world, to double on the most dangerous stunts. All were pleased to have an
actual Batman on board for the production, as Goy was the only one able to drive
the two-wheeled street machine called the Bat-Pod for scenes in The Dark Knight.
Indeed, he returned to his key role for this summer's The Dark Knight Rises.
Bradley's team also retrofitted several jeepneys, a minibus that is the most
common form of transportation in the Philippines. "The jeepneys were our
heritage from World War II," Juban explains. "When jeeps were left behind by the
Americans, the Filipinos made the body longer. From that time on, it has ended
up our main public utility vehicle. That's iconic Manila."
Each painted in a bright, unique style to entice passengers to hop aboard,
jeepneys are ubiquitous throughout the country, numbering around 100,000 in
Manila alone. The long and narrow vehicle is a cheap and easy form of
transportation, ideally shaped for navigating narrow roads that full-size buses
cannot. Open windows provide its only form of air conditioning, and its
passenger seating consists of two padded benches facing each other in the back,
each seating six to 10 people. When the seats are full, additional passengers
ride outside, hanging onto the back as best they can.
Jeepneys are featured in a key chase sequence with Renner, Weisz and
Changchien that was filmed on one of Manila's major roadways, Ramon Magsaysay
Boulevard, the main route to the presidential palace. Approximately 90 cars and
more than 300 extras were used for the sequence, which shot on a mile and a half
stretch of Magsaysay Blvd. through three major intersections over several
weekends. Helping manage the shoot were local authorities including the
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Manila Traffic Bureau and
the Presidential Security Group.
"Just on the MMDA, there were about 120 guys working with us-not just in the
area, but in the peripheral surroundings to control and help ease the traffic,"
Juban recounts. "The Manila police have a contingent of about 50, and the
Presidential Security Group has about 20, and then there is the local barangay
A densely populated city of more than 11 million people, Manila was not the
easiest place to shoot. "Manila's a tough city to work in: There are traffic
jams, and it's hard to move around," ends Crowley. "But the people are so
gracious and excited about films. They know more about the Bourne movies than I
know about the Bourne movies."
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