The Bourne Legacy
New Bourne is a Talker

The original Bourne trilogy starring Matt Damon stands alone as one of the better trilogies in movie history.  Now, writer/director Tony Gilroy, the screenwriter of that original trilogy, introduces a new protagonist in The Bourne Legacy, which lives somewhere between sequel and spin-off.  Jeremy Renner is the new protagonist, but unfortunately he was not given nearly as much to work with as his predecessor.

Legacy takes place partly at the same time as The Bourne Ultimatum, with the new film inserting scenes and characters from that movie throughout its own plot.  Apparently, while Damon’s Jason Bourne was causing international headaches for the CIA, Renner’s Aaron Cross was on a training mission in the wilderness of Alaska.  When Bourne’s actions threaten to expose the agency’s top-secret spy programs, the order comes down to eliminate all existing operatives.  After narrowly escaping his own death, Cross returns to the states; not because he wants to find out why someone tried to kill him, but because he has run out of the little blue pills they gave him.

Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross in The Bourne LegacyWe soon learn that these blue pills are working to expand Cross’ mind and keep his wits up, and we also learn his reasons for not wanting to fall off his prescription.  He ends up enlisting the help of a doctor, herself recently a survivor of an attempted assassination.  It turns out the pills he needs are on the other side of the world, a trip made all the more difficult by the fact that the CIA is hunting the pair of them with nearly unlimited resources.

Although Bourne Legacy incorporates the plot of the previous three movies, it fails to move that plot forward at all. In fact, the movie doesn’t have much plot of its own to speak of.  This led to an ending that felt sudden, if only because you expected there to be more to it.

Essentially, the plot simply revolves around Cross’ desire for medication.  Although it is explained what will happen if he doesn’t get his medication, the movie never comes close enough to this point that we fear he is in any danger.  We cared about Bourne’s mission to discover his true identity and figure out why people are trying to kill him.  With Cross, we don’t really care if he finds his blue pills or not, and not even he seems to care about figuring out who is trying to kill him.

For a Bourne movie, the film also seems rather light on action.  There are really only two big action scenes and between them we are forced to sit through some incredibly long dialogue sequences, usually filled with difficult-to-follow scientific gibberish.  Any of these extended dialogue sequences probably contain more dialogue than Matt Damon spoke in the entire original trilogy.

There is one action scene that I did not include in my count above for two reasons: First, it doesn’t feature Aaron Cross.  Secondly, it is more horrifying than it is exciting.  Perhaps if we had not recently gone through the terrible events in Aurora, Colorado, this scene involving a massacre perpetrated by a lone gunman might not have seemed so terrible.  Unfortunately, we did just go through those events and that takes the audience out of the movie.  Not a fault of the filmmakers, mind you, just bad timing.

When the movie does get to its action sequences, it is worth it.  Renner has some terrific fighting moves that had audience members cringing (in a good way) and he certainly looks the part when fleeing killers and police on a motorcycle.  If there is one complaint about the action—aside from the lack of it—it’s that there are a couple of moments of very obvious computer effects.  Computer effects may be a staple of modern action movies, but the Bourne franchise still does better by not showing them.

It is too bad that The Bourne Legacy could not further the story of the first three movies, but the rumor of Bourne and Cross meeting up in a fifth film is still an intriguing proposition.

The Bourne Legacy is rated PG-13 for “violence and action sequences.”  There is a lot of the violence, which includes plenty of bones breaking and necks turning in ways that they aren’t supposed to turn.  If that’s not your thing, then stay away.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of The Bourne Legacy.