Movie Review: The Bourne Legacy
By Jayson Burns
While not as numerous or historic as the Bond films, the Bourne series has become an example of how secret agent movies are done right. They put together all the ingredients like action, espionage, tension and the like without burning it to an inedible mess. So, with their success, it’s no surprise they wish to continue the story with The Bourne Legacy, but as the film stands on its own I can’t help but wonder if it lived up to its title.
The fourth entry in the Bourne series begins with Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), a chemically-altered agent of Operation Outcome, surviving an assassination attempt by his own employers. Outcome is suffering from the same legal consequences as the previous antagonists brought about by the exploits of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), and so has decided to eliminate all assets. Scientist Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) becomes a target as well, but is saved by Cross so that she can help him keep his body at its chemical and physical peak without having to ingest the Outcome-issued pills. The two go on the run as their old agency hunts them down across the globe.
Compared to an amnesiac uncovering his lost past and striking back at the people responsible, finding a way to stop taking pills seems a little weak. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad this story wasn’t a repeat of the other films, but this plot seems more effective in as a first act than as the main focus. The ending was underwhelming as well, even if a sequel is a distinct possibility. On top of all that, characters and plot points seem to swing past too quickly. Also, the means by which Outcome tracks the duo seems a little obvious for Cross to fall for (then again, I haven’t been hunted down by a government agency . . . yet). To add a more positive note, though, there’s a strong amount of tension in some scenes and the characters act intelligently for the most part.
The acting from the three leads in Legacy is solid. Renner and Weisz have yet to disappoint me, and their characters interact well with each other while being strong enough on their own. Edward Norton does a good job as Eric Byer, the man in charge of hunting the other two down, but doesn’t really stand out since his only role is to give orders to his subordinates. It’s hard to comment on much of the other actors, however, since they’re given even less substance than Norton’s character.
With nothing really major coming to mind, the film is shot professionally. There are a few minor moments of shaky-cam in the fight scenes, but they’re all still brutal and comprehensible (you’re doing something right when you make the audience shout “OOOOH!”). Legacy’s obligatory chase scenes are also pretty engaging as the film goes by a fairly reasonable pace, and it’s always nice when a spy film doubles as a world tour.
The Bourne Legacy had some great acting from its stars and some intense action scenes, but by the end I failed to see how it really earned the “legacy” in its title. I have no doubt more will be revealed in the inevitable sequel (just like Prometheus), but on its own merit I don’t think it did enough to keep me completely satisfied (just like Prometheus).