Jim Ross thinks THE BOURNE LEGACY is the simple and neglected half-brother of the previous films in the franchise
Directed by Tony Gilroy
Although a decent enough action film, the latest Bourne-less entry in this franchise might as well have been called The Bourne Irrelevancy. It’s not that The Bourne Legacy is a bad film, it’s just the cinematic equivalent of flogging a dead horse – and the wrong dead horse at that.
The plot revolves around Jeremy Renner’s secret operative Aaron Cross – a graduate of Operation Outcome, an offshoot of the black-ops projects that spawned Jason Bourne. As the heat is turned up on the Treadstone and Blackbriar projects (the film shares a timeline with The Bourne Ultimatum), shady spook-in-a-suit Ed Norton looks to cover his and his colleagues’ own arses by erasing Outcome and anyone who knows about it from existence. This means, of course, Aaron Cross and Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) – a scientist responsible for development and administering of chemical enhancers for the agents of the Outcome program – must try and outwit their former employers to stay alive.
Behind the camera is Tony Gilroy, screenwriter for the other entries in the franchise, and there is a limited amount to like in The Bourne Legacy, but the connection to other Bourne films really doesn’t help this half-baked effort. On a genuinely positive note, Jeremy Renner does an excellent job as Aaron Cross. In contrast to the erstwhile Bourne, Cross is painfully aware of who he used to be and doesn’t like it one bit. Portrayed essentially as a highly trained and very dangerous junkie, Cross is driven by the desire to maintain the chemical edge that has elevated him to his current plane of existence. This is an interesting idea (a less materialistic twist on the idea in Limitless), but is sadly squandered to lazily cram it alongside The Bourne Ultimatum.
Throughout the film the mayhem Jason Bourne is causing in Manhattan was constantly alluded to, but only served to remind me the nucleus of a good idea has been wasted in a hasty rehash of The Bourne Identity (and how much I’d rather be watching the previous three instalments). We get the overwhelmed female sidekick again in Weisz’s character – although, to be fair, she does well with a part that never develops beyond more than a scientifically skilled damsel-in-distress. Beyond that we have the obligatory windowless rooms filled with security camera footage and anonymous agency drones, super-assassins parachuted in at the convenience of the plot, expendable members of non-Anglophone police forces and credits set to ‘Extreme Ways’ by Moby.
What we should have got was the original series’ twin, separated at birth – the different nurture process giving us a twist on the original DNA. However, with The Bourne Legacy we have the neglected and rather simple half-brother. Many shared genes are there, but they are the recessive ones. In failing to take what is good and refine it in to something unique, that can emerge from the shadows of the original trilogy, The Bourne Legacy never manages to stand on its own two feet.