Directed by: Tony Gilroy
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton
Having not been derived from a Robert Ludlum novel of the same title, Tony Gilroy’s The Bourne Legacy essentially takes a page from the future Bond handbook and attempts to reinvent the wheel by utilizing the basic framework of the initial Bourne trilogy to craft something appealingly (and successfully) original. While the inherent sense of political intrigue is there, the entire production, barring Renner’s efforts, feels vapid; devoid of the deft balance between the adrenaline-infused and talk-heavy that made Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne’s quest to reclaim his lost identity all-too-compelling.
Focusing primarily on the fallout Bourne’s understandably deviant behavior has on the program he’s been a part of, The Bourne Legacy more or less runs parallel to the events of the second and third films. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is essentially the Terminator to Bourne’s T-1000 – a super agent granted his abilities through the regular intake of blue and green pills as opposed to simply inheriting the genetic alterations. Cross can do everything his slightly more gifted counterpart can, from hastily barreling through tight life-threatening predicaments to periodically kicking ass, however any and all intrigue peters out far too quickly as it takes entirely too long for the ball to get rolling.
For as much narrative fluff we’re exposed to, the proceedings are rarely uninteresting, however Gilroy’s direction remains uncertain as things finally begin to pick up. Even as they do, the action is still few and far between as a cat-and-mouse chase involving the CIA, Aaron and knowledgeable scientist Marta (Rachel Weisz), a.k.a. the only suitable person willing to aid the former through his trials and tribulations, gets underway. More extraneous details are thrown around regarding the CIA’s intentions in ridding the world of its assets to cover up the aforementioned Bourne fiasco, but in giving credit where credit’s due, the Gilroys do a fine enough job in tying up most loose ends, even if the film relies more on suspense than intermittent instances of mystery.
Squandering the talents of Edward Norton and the rest of a recognizable supporting cast, The Bourne Legacy feels more unnecessary than it does a worthy successor to one of the best, most involving action-thrillers of the past decade and beyond, 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum. The trademarks are all there, from typical bouts of government panic-turned-irrational problem solving to the frenetic mash-ups of hand-to-hand and armed combat, however everything feels so inconsistent that the film as a whole is hard to recommend. Honestly, you could do worse, but this mostly unnecessary step back in the franchise lacks the inherent intrigue Damon’s Bourne’s saga possessed, from its protagonists origins down to his increasingly deadly skill set, meaning familiarity and frequent lulls in the narrative overshadow everything worthwhile the production has to offer.