When Tony Gilroy decided to associate this film to “Bourne”, we assumed that he’s also ready to bestow the expectation of the Bourne fans from it. It is a great challenge for him, even though he’s very familiar with the franchise because he wrote the screenplays of the previous three films. The big difference now is he’s going to direct it for the first time and Matt Damon refused to be involved in this movie. The actor is straightforwardly addressed that if Paul Greengrass is not the director, he will not reprise his role as Jason Bourne.
But how are they going to do a Bourne movie without Jason Bourne? This is a disgrace of Robert Ludlum’s honor of writing the suspense and dramatic life of Mr. Bourne. It’s like making a Bond movie minus the dashing debonair in a tuxedo who wears a very strong English accent and magnetic charm that attracts the Bond girls. They cannot do that. They need Jason Bourne.
It is pretty obvious that Gilroy accepts the fact that it is only Matt Damon that can do the titular Jason Bourne that’s why the plan to make “The Bourne Legacy” — a supposedly continuation and the fourth installment didn’t happen but became some sort of a spin-off of the Bourne stories. We initially assumed that Jeremy Renner is a new Jason Bourne but the trailers released clearly explained that he’s not and even the poster indicated, “There Was Never Just One” – meaning Renner is that other one and he has big shoes to fill. While watching the film, we want to chant Goyte’s popular song, “Jason Bourne – Somebody That We Used To Know.”
The first half an hour is practically settling the audience on what actually happened to Bourne trilogy. But honestly, it didn’t help that much and everyone became impatient to know who the hell is Aaron Cross and why he’s taking a blue pill and green pill every after warrior-type activities he did. To add with that, it is too messy and you’ll go loopy with scenes literally jumping from one country to another. You find yourself in Alaskan wilderness, then in Washington D.C., then Seoul, South Korea, then New York and finally you get lost.
The familiar faces from the Bourne trilogy didn’t help as well. David Strathairn, Joan Allen, Albert Finney and Stacy Keach obviously look older than the previous movies. The Bourne Legacy should be happening juxtaposed to chasing Jason Bourne – so, it’s okay to expect that they should look practically the same, without botox nor wrinkles.
There are three main characters to take note here – and basically you can get the plot out of that; Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), a genetically enhanced operative which is similar to what happened to Jason Bourne; Eric Bayer (Edward Norton), seems to be a very powerful CIA that want to take down all the genetically enhanced agents; and Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), a government geneticist who doesn’t know exactly the impact of the meds they are making. Cross is part of an Agency program called Outcome. Bayer burns Outcome to the ground, killing off all of the agents as he goes. In order to find out why, and avoid the same fate, Cross enlists the help of Dr. Shearing. And the entire 135-minute movie was spent in introducing these three characters and insert Jason Bourne’s name every time they have a chance to.
Jeremy Renner is effective as an Outcome agent, who can do action stunts with very serious face and little dialogue. To be fair to Renner, we need not to compare him with Matt Damon because they portrayed different character; Bourne has blank memory and the entire movie is like searching for self-identification all throughout, while Cross knows exactly where he came from and he knows he needs the “chems” to enhance his abilities to dive naked into a river in Alaska, to fight with wolves, and climb to steep mountains like Alps that feels like you’re watching Ethan Hunt in one of the Mission: Impossible movies.
Rachel Weisz is equally good and she shares a lot of time on screen with Renner. She has actually more dialogue to say than Renner but I feel frustrated when Dr. Shearing was interrogated. But when Aaron Cross appeared and saved the day, we started to sit comfortably and tell ourselves that this movie is potentially a Bourne movie in a first place. But it didn’t last that long.
Edward Norton is a non-hatable villain here. I don’t like that kind of antagonist. He’s the head of Operation Outcome and he just rationally doing his job to clean up the mess of Treadstone and Blackbriar Program. It was concluded in The Bourne Ultimatum, but because of this spin-off, they keep on mentioning Treadstone/Blackbriar and wiping out all Outcome agents.
“The Bourne Legacy” should be grateful for carrying a titular “Bourne” and particularly mentioning Jason Bourne to every character’s conversation that made the moviegoers become so interested to watch this movie. But other than that, the movie lacks the Bourne Trilogy’s flawless stunts, a very boring plot and disappointing abrupt ending. While hearing the familiar Bourne Score during credits, you’ll be in absolute awe and regret why you watched the movie and utter, “Is that it?”