The Bourne Legacy
Written by Tony Gilroy and Dan Gilroy
Directed by Tony Gilroy
Starring Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton and Rachel Weisz
The success of the Bourne franchise has set a legacy that’s hard to live up to. So it makes sense that after years of following the adventures of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), a no-nonsense assassin with a slight case of amnesia, the franchise has decided to go in a slightly new direction with a fresh star to match. Still, if you haven’t seen the first three films, there’s a good chance you may not understand half of what’s going on in The Bourne Legacy.
This fourth instalment overlaps the events of the third film, The Bourne Ultimatum, as Bourne’s actions have created a chain reaction that has started to affect his fellow field agents. Agent Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is training in Alaska when the CIA, under the instruction of intelligence officer Eric Byer (Edward Norton), decides to eliminate all of its field agents to prevent them from becoming revenge-seekers like Bourne. At first, Cross’ main concern is that he’s lost his “chems,” little blue and green performance-enhancing pills, while scaling the Alaskan mountain range. But he soon catches on that he’s a moving target and survival becomes his top priority. Evading Byer all the while, Cross is forced to seek the help of Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) in order to obtain more of his elusive pills before it’s too late.
As the new hero, Cross is depicted as a capable assassin without the flaw of Bourne’s memory loss, making Cross one crazy badass that even Bourne wouldn’t want to mess with. Still, it’s hard to see any major differences between the two characters, aside from Cross’ intact memories. Even events surrounding them are the same, with the film constantly referring to events and characters from the last Bourne film. It alludes to Jason Bourne, Treadstone, Operation Blackbriar and smaller characters like Simon Ross and Pamela Landy from the third installment with the expectation that you know who or what they’re talking about. Thankfully, they sometimes show pictures or video clips to jog your memory, but the plot would’ve been more effective if they had focused more on showing instead of telling.
One of the few notable differences is the lack of action sequences — decidedly less than one would expect from a Bourne movie. Instead, the film becomes a commentary on humanity, the innateness of compassion and the frightening impact of scientific innovation, leaving the audience to sometimes wonder just how much of this could be based on reality.
With less action behind it, the acting is ultimately what holds this film together. Renner makes a tough yet charming assassin, a stark contrast to Damon’s serious Bourne. Although Renner doesn’t get to show off his considerable fighting skills as much as Damon did, he exudes the strength, power and reflexes expected of a Bourne lead. Weisz is a satisfying opposite, playing a civilian out of her element in an assassin’s world — that is, until she too is forced to inflict some pain.
Ultimately, famililarity with the Bourne franchise is a must for anyone planning to catch some of the excitement that comes with a gun-toting Renner. While The Bourne Legacy doesn’t quite live up to the first three films, it’s a credible addition to the Bourne franchise.
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