Matt Damon’s departure from the Bourne series should have ended it, but in an uncommon move for a reboot, the main character is also replaced. The early signs are promising, with Jeremy Renner as the main lead, who has already proven more than once that he belongs in the action genre. And, as we saw in The Bourne Identity, there was never just one super-assassin, thus the series was set up from the beginning for a spin-off. I loved the Bourne series, but when it comes to The Bourne Legacy, I have mixed feelings.
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The Movie Review
The story takes place during the events in Ultimatum, Aaron Cross a member of a Defense Department black ops program known as Operation Outcome, is dispatched to Alaska for a training exercise six weeks after Jason Bourne’s escape from Moscow. Operation Outcome is known to feed its agents colored pills that enhance their mental and physical abilities.
When the men in charge of Treadstone and Black Briar learn of Bourne and Landy’s media exposé, they worry about how it’ll hurt their other operations. They decide it’s best to halt all operations and create a yellow pill, which kills every agent. Only Aaron Cross manages to escape. Now on the run and in desperate need of meds, he seeks out Dr. Martha Shearing and travels to Manila to take himself off the prescription.
Director Tony Gilroy replaces Paul Greengrass, who is associated with the success of Supremacy and Ultimatum. Gilroy has directed Michael Clayton and co-written every Bourne film to date, so he must know his way around the franchise. And funnily enough, The Bourne Legacy is a lot like Clayton – lots of dialogue, more mystery than action, with a lot of science flung around without pause for breath or explanation.
Every attempt is made, sometimes to an excessive degree, to fit this into the Bourne universe, and you’d definitely need to be familiar with the other films in order to keep up with the convoluted plot.
Watching The Bourne Legacy was an unpleasant experience. It’s a sequel, with scenes that run parallel to the events in the third Bourne film, but it also felt like a reboot. By that I mean it attempts to change our expectations and experience of everything Bourne-related.
The producers could have done everyone a huge service by just making Jeremy Renner take on the role of Jason Bourne and continue where they left off. It’s not like this wasn’t done before (take the James Bond remake Skyfall for example). Moreover, Aaron Cross is just a bland character.
What was so interesting about Jason is that he’s an assassin trying to redeem himself. On the other hand, Aaron is just a junkie in desperate need of a fix. He doesn’t have any vulnerabilities, but Jason did, and that’s why we cared about him.
To be fair, it’s a proper action movie with good fight scenes, and a great supporting cast. Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz’s performances were top-notch, and the duo carried out the most intense stunts in the film. There are also familiar faces, with Scott Glenn, Donna Murphey, and Oscar Isaac, to name a few.
James Newton Howard returns with a thrilling score. For the cinematography, Robert Elswit takes us through many sites – in a movie that has the most shooting locations on the Bourne series: New York City, Chicago, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Seoul, South Korea, El Nido, Palawan, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, The Bourne Legacy had the chance of being dynamite. The fact that it’s a standalone story in the Bourne universe sells it, but it’s the very thing that hurts the film. Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum set the bar very high for the Bourne series, and Legacy barely reaches it.