Jason Bourne originally graced our screens for the first time a decade ago. It was a minimalist and gritty take on the espionage genre and was a welcome change from the excesses of the Brosnan Bond era. The story arc was sustained over three movies and ended efficiently and succinctly. Matt Damon moved on, as did the director of two of the movies, Paul Greengrass. Of course the money men and bean counters hate to pass up on a franchise until it has been squeezed utterly dry, so they commissioned the writer of the series, Tony Gilroy, to come up with and direct a sequel. Thus we have The Bourne Legacy which features Jeremy Renner in the lead role.
The plot is constructed in such a way to dovetail nicely into the previous storyline. Whether its clever or contrived, I’ll leave you to judge. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is an enhanced soldier from the Outcome program. This is the military’s equivalent to CIA’s Treadstone project. After the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, Colonel Byer (Edward Norton) decides to eliminate all traces of Outcome. Not just the agents, but all medical researchers and admin staff. I wouldn’t be surprised if that included the cleaners as well. So it’s not long before Cross goes on the run the run with Dr Marta (Rachel Weisz ), the one scientist who designed the physically and mentally enhancing “chems” that cross must take daily. Cue two hours plus of chase scene, followed by plot exposition, followed by chase scene. Rinse and repeat.
Its all very professionally made and somewhat soulless. One of the main selling points of the original Bourne trilogy was the lead characters amnesia, struggle for identity and possible redemption. This plot device is absent from this movie and thus we much less emotional connection with our hero. The concept of chemically altering a person into a Nietzchean superman is initially intriguing, portaying Cross as an addict. However it is conveniently dispensed with when we discovers that going cold turkey reveals their effect as being permanent. The ending leaves matters open for yet further exploration. Overall The Bourne Legacy is this matter of fact, A to B style of film making that robs the movie of any heart.
The Bourne Legacy will provide you with superficial entertainment if you want nothing more than a technically competent chase movie for two hours or so. If you like your fight scenes edited so quickly you haven’t a clue who just wupped who, then you’re in for a treat. Yet considering the cast, this is a somewhat grey action movie. Apart from The Hurt Locker and The Town , I have yet to see Jeremy Renner in a role that he excels in. However, if this movie succeeds at the box office and I have no reason to suspect that it won’t, because audiences seem to be very undemanding these days, then we can expect a sequel. If we really must endure another, can we at least have Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass back?