The Bourne Legacy Review

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In a similar manner to the fourth Bourne novel originally penned by Robert Ludlum and passed to Eric Van Lustbader, this fourth entry into the Bourne movies also passes the torch from Matt Damon to Jeremy Renner. “The Bourne Legacy” follows Aaron Cross, another highly gifted and trained assassin forged by the CIA, as he dodges bad guys sent to eliminate him as a result of Jason Bourne’s actions from the previous three movies. Though the title of the movie implies Cross will continue to bring the fight to the CIA as Bourne did this movie has less to do with carrying on his predecessor’s  work and more to do with carrying on Matt Damon’s work of making money from a successful action franchise. Though I hate to measure this movie against the previous three it’s difficult not to look at “The Bourne Legacy” and see that it is vastly inferior.
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One of the most glaring and disappointing aspects of this movie is the plot, or lack thereof. In previous movies there was usually a somewhat gripping conspiracy and it moved along at a very nice clip. At the very least it felt like there was something on the line to help build suspense and tension. “Legacy” takes a good 45 of its 135 minute running time to get moving and once it does it becomes a glorified trip to CVS for a prescription. That’s it. There’s no search for the truth and there’s no sense of vengeance. Aaron Cross needs medicine so he can stay smarter and faster than other people.

Jason Bourne was typically a man of few words but what he said usually mattered and had meaning. Any of the spies trained like Bourne in these movies were all killing machines with very little, if any, personality. The extreme methods used to shape them into what they became left almost all of them devoid of any sense of self. Aaron Cross just came off as some dude to me. Much of what he said did not carry any weight with me and I didn’t buy him as one of the elite agents from earlier movies. He makes some chit chat and is occasionally humorous. I understand he’s from a different and probably more refined program than Treadstone and Blackbriar but that doesn’t mean I have to like him. Even his motivations for going after his medicine aren’t enough for me to invest myself in his character because he probably won’t die if he doesn’t get what he needs. Basically I have a character I don’t particularly like or believe as an elite spy and there is not even a survival aspect to help me relate or ground this character.

Though “The Bourne Legacy” is disappointing in terms of story and character in true Bourne film style the action is very impressive. The action scenes are a bit sparse for my tastes  but when they’re there, they pack a nice punch. Aaron Cross beats down baddies with fists of fury worthy of Jason Bourne himself. He’s smart and likes to use environments to his advantage. Critics of the Bourne series and most action movies of late often dislike the quick cuts and shaky camera work because it hides the action too much. I never thought the previous three movies were too obnoxious with this style but “Legacy” does tone it down a lot. I love seeing the action clearly as much as the next guy but I always thought the shaky camera worked for Bourne. It always added a level of frantic tension to a car chase or fist fight that a crisp, choreographed sequence lacked. I’m not trying to take anything away from the action in “Legacy”, but at times it felt a bit staged.

Overall, I was not crazy about “The Bourne Legacy.” It takes too long to get going and once it does nothing of major consequence happens. Edward Norton and his CIA cronies don’t really move things along behind the scenes and Rachel Weisz spends most of the movie panicking. Aside from a few cool action sequences, this movie is fairly boring. In fact, I actually dozed off a couple of times. The entire movie felt like a prelude to the the inevitable “Bourne Betrayal” if they keep using the book titles. If you are a die hard Bourne fan maybe check this out but “The Bourne Legacy” is really nothing that can’t wait until you can rent it.
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for how this movie was so bourning!

tl;dr – A few cool action sequences aside, “The Bourne Legacy” was boring and not really worth watching.

Rich Coonelly

3 comments

Wow! You really ragged on this film! I’ll just make a few points. First, why does Cross have to carry on in his predecessor’s work? Why does he have to take the fight to the CIA the way Bourne did? I’m glad the movie wasn’t just a carbon copy of Jason Bourne “bringing down the CIA”. I’ve seen that play out amazingly well over the first three films. Aaron Cross is NOT Jason Bourne, and shouldn’t have to be. Which leads to my next point, which is that The Bourne Legacy is a smart, suspenseful movie with a strong conspiracy element involving a covert CIA agency titled Operation Outcome with ties to the Tread stone and Black briar programs, that takes soldiers(in Cross case, one with an IQ below average) and turns them into elite agents specializing in deep cover and other intelligence gathering operations. Due to Bourne’s actions in the last three films(Ultimatum in particular), the CIA is purging all of their “dirty little secrets” programs that are related in any way to the programs brought to light by Bourne. Outcome(Cross’ program affiliation) has been feeding their operatives “chems” or pills that enhance physical and intellectual abilities. These pills are short term and must be continuously ingested every so many hours for the agents to maintain their enhanced intelligence and physical prowess. And if an agent goes too long without their chems, they will also incur severe withdrawal symptoms. When in the process of neutralizing/killing all of these assets(including the doctors who were involved with the synthesization of the chems- which alter two chromosomes to achieve the enhancement effects, and the docs that administer them), Cross evades being assassinated. As does Marta(with help from Cross). The CIA knows they can’t leave the two of them out there in the world somewhere, knowing what they know. And so the chase is on! Cross main objectives at first are to use Marta to help him avoid having to go off his chems. For Aaron, this is important for three reasons: 1)he wants to avoid the horrible withdrawal, 2)he knows he’s a dead man if he can’t keep his edge via the enhancements, and 3)he’s afraid of going back to having less than average intelligence. All of these, in my opinion, are strong motivations for Cross actions in the movie. And you said you couldn’t invest in his character or motives. Does it have to be about vengeance to be good and relatable? Also, you say he isn’t believable as a elite agent. Why? Renner is an excellent actor(see his work in The Hurt Locker & American Hustle), and his character is written to be pretty bad ass so I don’t think it could be his acting ability that disqualifies his character as an elite agent. Physique maybe not convincing enough to portray such a character? Don’t think so. Renner is in tremendous shape in this movie(he’s played physical roles before in The Avengers and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol). He’s 5’10 and has good muscle mass for his frame, and is pretty ripped. In fact, his physique seems like it would be suited quite perfectly for an elite CIA operative. Much bigger and he might lose some speed & agility, as well as have a difficult time blending in in crowds and such. Any smaller and he might lose some strength and length. Just to compare, although I think Matt Damon was in great shape for his Bourne movies, his physique didn’t quite match the physical presence of Jeremy Renner in Legacy. Both were believable to me. Finally, how can you say there’s no survival aspect? It’s all about survival. Aaron Cross is a character I easily invested myself in and I hope there’s another one. Maybe with both Damon & Renner! Here’s to hoping!
P.S. If you fell asleep several times, are you really qualified to judge the whole movie… seeing as how you didn’t see all of it?

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