For fans of the Bourne series, this must seem implausible: That, exiting the theater, at least three people were overheard talking about how they had fallen asleep during The Bourne Legacy. After all, the original trilogy—Bourne Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum—were high-adrenaline films. With breakneck chases and a high caliber cast, they weren’t simple action flicks. And though Legacy shares some DNA with the other films—writer Tony Gilroy (who also directs Legacy), a great cast, intense sequences, the word “Bourne” in the title—that is where the similarities end. The Bourne Legacy has (few) moments of excitement that are connected by stretches of utter dullness.
For a two-hour movie, the plot is markedly thin. After the events in the first films, CIA upper brass decides to dismantle the black ops program and terminate its field agents. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), trying to stay alive, gets help from Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), a virologist who worked in the black ops’ medical program.
That’s it. No trying to figure out who he really is. No attempts to expose the program. Or figure out who Jason Bourne is. No. Just Cross and Shearing travelling from place to place while US Intelligence officers—including the underutilized Ed Norton—look at monitors and make phone calls.
Renner is a compelling lead, but his character pales in comparison to Bourne. Cross operates in a purely selfish way: To get medicines necessary to remain physically and mentally advanced. It’s also hard to root for a hero who indiscriminately kills people. Now Jason Bourne was no angel, but Cross’ killings often feel unnecessary. Like him snapping the neck of an unfit Filipino guard who was sent to check on a possible break-in. Additionally, Weisz’s Shearing is just bland. Other than running (Terminator-like, with flat, vertical palms), being a mediocre love interest, and saying things like the nonsensical “viral-off,” she adds little to the plot.
There are some great scenes, particularly a foot chase on the rooftop of Manila and Foite’s (Zeljko Ivanek) horrifying assassination of his fellow lab workers. But these never add up to anything and are often marred with lines like “You can make it; you’re a warrior” and “She’s going to try to viral him out.” Not to mention endless shots of people looking at TV monitors. And a scene where Cross wrestles a wolf. Seriously.
But the ultimate reason why the movie disappoints is because it does not let the audience forget about the (better) precedent movies and Jason Bourne. He’s in the title. His picture is shown countless times. He is talked about incessantly. By continually being reminded of what is missing, these new characters have no chance. Like, if Warner Brothers released a movie called The Dark Knight Legacy that doesn’t feature Batman, just Robin or some newly created character. (Which could actually happen.) Instead of taking the movie into a new, fresh direction, audiences are simply left wondering why a fourth movie wasn’t made with Matt Damon.
My Grade: C-