The Bourne Legacy
Legacy is a lackluster, pining disappointment – an overcomplicated meandering plot, uninspired action sequences and lack of Bourne does more harm than good and results in a half-hearted effort to reignite a franchise that, while you ask, was perfectly fine before you came along, thank you very much.
Missing all they key elements that made the original Bourne series so enthralling – director Paul Greengrass, source material from Robert Ludlum and, of course, Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne himself – makes The Bourne Legacy not just a franchise low, but an unbecoming epitaph that doesn’t deserve the space on the same page.
During (and in the wake of) Jason Bourne’s exposing of the CIA’s secret operations Treadstone and Blackbriar, wherein the agency secretly and effectively created brutal killing machines a lá Bourne, one of eight other members Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is forced to go on the run when the fellas at the top of the food chain – including a moody Edward Norton as Colonel Eric Byer – decide to burn the entire program to the ground to avoid having to answer questions when it all goes public. The chain of events that Damon’s Bourne started seems to end at Cross’ feet, and they quickly pick up pace as the CIA fumble about trying to shut him down.
The first big mistake of the story – which is, by all accounts, a calamity of such magnitude that words are unable to do justice – is to stem the entire skillset of the children of Treadstone and Blackbriar to a series of drug experiments to enhance the agents both physically and mentally. Rachel Weisz’s Dr Shearing is one such scientist and, like Cross, is a lone survivor of her clan, so naturally they collide to flee together. In one of the many lulls, Aaron explains that he was only ever a member of the militia because his commanding officer added the twelve IQ points necessary for him to qualify; since Ludlum’s shun and Greengrass and Damon’s departure, the team behind the franchise have clearly all been deducted their combined IQ to match the lead. To attribute all of Cross’ skills to a chemical experiment – and, by extension, Bourne’s – turns the whole series into a superhero story and effortlessly rips apart all the admiration and awe that we were accustomed to.
The brain left, but what of the brawn? Action sequences are sporadic and far between; the few that occur in the buildup are much too short while a climactic foot/car/motorbike chase feels far too long. Cross seems never in any real threat (and therefore this affects Shearing) so the buildup of tension is short and ineffective, and the extensive dull dialogue – of which makes up around 120 of the 135-minute runtime – is complicated and unnecessary.
There are a few traces of the pre-Renner Bourne afloat in this effort however. The Greengrass shaky-cam is alive and well, and Moby’s strings once again cue the credits. But the necessary presence of Jason Bourne (and perhaps Matt Damon) is smudged throughout the film making Legacy seem like a jealous ex-girlfriend of Damon’s successful ex-boyfriend. Ineffectively tying in events from Ultimatum and mentioning Bourne constantly just digs a deeper grave for a film that desperately needs something extra and keeps reminding you of that fact.
Weisz does a fine but functional job, while Renner is likeable yet ultimately far too much like a superman to ever create any tension, never mind come close to the impact of his predecessor. In the end, Legacy is a lackluster, pining disappointment – an overcomplicated meandering plot, uninspired action sequences and lack of Bourne does more harm than good and results in a half-hearted effort to reignite a franchise that, while you ask, was perfectly fine before you came along, thank you very much.