During the height of the Bourne trilogy’s popularity, a reporter asked Matt Damon if he would come back for yet another film. He quoted director Paul Greengrass saying that it could be called “The Bourne Redundancy.” That man is a prophet, because The Bourne Legacy is almost as unnecessary of a fourth installment as Shrek Forever After.
When we left Jason Bourne, he was busy making fools of the government by exposing their evil and escaping their clutches. But Bourne was not the only victim of the CIA’s special assassin programs, and his scandal set into motion a huge attempted cover-up of all such operations. This translates to retired military officers Eric Byer and Mark Turso (Edward Norton and Stacy Keach) ordering lots of violence against anyone who knows anything that could be incriminating.
Enter Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), a ripped and rugged soldier who narrowly misses being the latest target of a missile and Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), a brilliant scientist who narrowly misses being the final victim in a shooting rampage. They team up and run away from all the forces that want them dead and stop only to sleep and kick serious butt along the way. The true “legacy” of this franchise is the quick wit that accompanies the quick hands of fighters that we have come to expect from all action films, and Legacy does not disappoint in that regard.
Every single actor is superb and entirely convincing. I especially loved the fact that Dr. Shearing runs, shoots, and fights like a resourceful adult in addition to the requisite cowering and crying. Keach and Norton do an excellent job of taking their characters’ concerns seriously without taking themselves too seriously, presenting brilliant strategists that are human enough to be one-upped by someone they used to command. And Jeremy Renner is as electrifying and skilled of an action hero as anyone could hope for. Director Tony Gilroy (a screenwriter for all four movies) keeps up the tradition of having the actors do nearly all of their own stunts, and Renner slips into the role of superhuman with incredible ease. Then what’s with the review title insinuating that this film is not exciting, you ask? Well, I actually yawned just as much as I gasped in awe because I had seen it all before. Taking inspiration from previous films is one thing, but it is quite another to string together their scenes (which have been on DVD for years) and just throw in a few new players and a few new tricks. There were literally times when I could predict what would happen next because the setup was so similar to an earlier Bourne film.
An extra aggravation was that the little explanation given of how Aaron Cross came to be a trained killing machine was vague and confusing. There were gaping plot holes that even the most fanatic Bourne lovers could not fill without rereading Ludlum’s novels and rewatching all of the previous movies. The only thing that held my interest for the first 30 minutes were shoutouts to familiar cities and landmarks, and the ending did not wrap up the story at all. I guess there will be yet another sequel, but I will not be there to watch “The Bourne Persistency.”
Final Grade: C+