Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton
Director: Tony Gilroy
Running Time: 135 mins
The Bourne Legacy is an American film and the fourth in the Bourne series. Following Jason Bourne’s escape from the CIA and exposure of Treadstone and Blackbriar, Aaron Cross, a soldier from the Outcome program, which genetically enhances agents, is forced to run for his life.
Unfortunately missing director Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, The Bourne Legacy has a lot going against it before it even begins. That said, it’s not bad at all. It may not match the mighty standards of the original trilogy, but with a great performance by Jeremy Renner and well-directed action from Tony Gilroy, it is an enjoyable watch.
As disappointing as The Bourne Legacy may be in comparison to its three predecessors, it has a lot of positives that would shine brighter if it were a stand-alone film. For one, Jeremy Renner is great as Aaron Cross, and puts in a good shift in some brilliant action scenes along with some engaging quieter moments. Like everyone else, I was lamenting the lack of Matt Damon, but if this were an Aaron Cross series, it wouldn’t be half-bad.
Also, Tony Gilroy’s directing style was good. Again, it’s not quite as stunning as Paul Greengrass’ insane shaky cam from Ultimatum and Supremacy, nor does it match Doug Liman’s early 2000s style in Identity, but Gilroy gives Legacy a very sleek, modern feel. Whilst not always hugely effective, I appreciated his efforts to give the Aaron Cross movie a distinct identity from Jason Bourne by avoiding shaky cam and instead going for a calmly and confidently directed spy thriller.
However, there are a lot of issues with The Bourne Legacy that extend beyond it being a pale shadow of the original trilogy. Above all, the story is extremely convoluted. Legacy tries to be clever by tying itself in with the events of the previous three movies, and often even take place at the exact same time as them, but that falls apart very badly.
The first act is by far the worst and most confusing part of this movie. With next to no action, and horrifically juddered pacing that looks embarrassing against the breakneck speed of the first three movies, I found it very hard to find a way to get interested in the story for over 50 minutes. What’s more is that the film isn’t clear about how far in time it is from the end of The Bourne Ultimatum, a problem that’s exacerbated by the use of archive footage being shown as if it’s the present day.
As a result, I was stuck in two minds watching the beginning of this film unfold. It tries to be too clever with its relation to the previous films, but it also struggles on its own to build compelling tension and intrigue, something that Greengrass and Liman’s Bournes did so brilliantly.
Fortunately, the story improves in the latter stages as the film streamlines its focus onto Aaron Cross’ exploits, rather than dashing all over the world between stories that don’t even feel like the same movie, and by the final act, it ends up as a very solid and entertaining action thriller. There’s nothing deeply intriguing about it, but it’s a fun watch as a film in and of itself, and that’s why The Bourne Legacy gets a 7.3 from me.