If it's crap ... We'll tell you
It's hard to believe that four years ago Jeremy Renner was a character actor working through small roles, trying
desperately to achieve A-list status. His career post-Oscar nomination for The Hurt Locker has deservedly paid
off; now with his first blockbuster lead role in action thriller The Bourne Legacy. His talent however far succeeds
the material here as this latest installment in the Bourne franchise is a missed opportunity.
Continuing the dislodging of covert operations Treadstone and Blackbriar at the conclusion of The Bourne
Ultimatum, Jason Bourne's actions have set off a deadly turn of events for everyone involved in the programs.
The CIA however fails to stop Aaron Cross (Renner) from acquiring the strength, agility and intelligence needed
to escape his handlers while covering his tracks. His actions collide with Dr. Martha Shearing (Rachel Weisz),
a scientist with knowledge of his much needed resources. The unlocking of his genetic biology will hopefully
find them an escape from the special forces hunting them across the globe.
This installment shares many flaws with the similarly underwhelming and overrated original, The Bourne
Identity. Tony Gilroy (co-writer of the original trilogy, director of Duplicity and Michael Clayton) replaces action
with political intrigue; removing the distinct thrills and tight pacing of The Bourne Supremacy and Ultimatum.
The loss of Paul Greengrass' kinetic, claustrophobic style loses the quick pacing, energetic action-set pieces
tension filled storytelling needed for a post-9/11 thrill ride. Legacy is unevenly paced, with a dull narrative
and multiple elements unimaginatively taken from previous installments. The film skirts between reality
and implausibility, with tracking from CIA and FBI headquarters stretching credibility and interest, while
scarcely providing a threatening antagonist.
Action is sparse here, with time spent mostly on the blowout from Jason Bourne's controversial actions.
Unfortunately, this provides nothing but confusing exposition and small appearances from characters important
to the original trilogy. It's an unnecessary installment, only expanding this universe of covert agents around the
globe to a small extent. Knowledge of the previous trilogy is important, with the Bourne scandal uncleanly
presented in this story of political betrayal in the face of a post-9/11 media-based democracy. When the action
does kick in, it delivers a much needed boost to proceedings. the quick cuts, brutal hand-to-hand fight sequences
and motor cycle chases, though derivative of previous installments, establish the importance of this series in
the genre. While the science lab shootout is chillingly effective for this gritty survival story.
The heavily debated issue was how Renner was going to successfully takeover the series without Matt Damon
or the titular character. He continues his impressive string of performances here with the same intensity
brought to similar roles in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and The Avengers. Having already proven his
worth with both action and drama, his dialogue sequences with the likes of Oscar Isaac and Edward Norton,
as determined USAF handler Eric Byer, are electric, as his charisma, along with physical presence and
agility in his many fist fights and roof top chases, creates an impressionable lead actor. Rachel Weisz also
succeeds as the sympathetic victim and Cross' contact/aid, thankfully sporting a character with greater depth
than the other female characters in this series and providing some much needed emotional force for this
toned down installment.
Verdict: An occasionally thrilling yet underwhelming fourth installment.