The Bourne Legacy is a fine entry in the series and while it’s not as good as the previous three or as well polished, it’s still a fun movie with solid action scenes that keeps good pace after the first 10-15 minutes. Even though Legacy is as well refined as the other movies in the series, the potential is there for another sequel and a finale that involves the title character again.
Genre(s): Suspense/Thriller, Action, Drama
Universal | PG13 – 135 min. – $29.98 | December 11, 2012
Directed by: Tony Gilroy
Writer(s): Robert Ludlum (“Bourne” Series); Tony Gilroy (story), Tony Gilroy & Dan Gilroy (screenplay)
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach, Oscar Isaac
Cameos: Joan Allen, Albert Finney, David Strathairn, Scott Glenn
Theatrical Release Date: August 10, 2012
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 3.75/5
When The Bourne Ultimatum was released back in 2007, it opened to praise from both critics and audience members alike and going on to rake in over $440M worldwide. So it would come to no surprise that Universal would want to continue on with the series, unfortunately star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass had other plans and the studio would have to quickly go with Plan B. That plan would include going with a new character and new direction as well.
The Bourne Legacy centers on Aaron Cross (JEREMY RENNER), another genetically enhanced soldier at the hands of the CIA but this time, a part of Project Outcome (vs. Treadstone where Bourne was, well, born and its twin brother, Blackbriar). But with the movie opening in the midst of the events in Ultimatum in which Jason Bourne, with the help of Pam Landy and Nicky Parsons, goes to New York to once and for all expose the CIA’s nasty doings.
Now the CIA and other agencies scramble to cover-up their illegal activities and that includes taking out the 9 members of Outcome which, for most, includes poisoning. But Aaron Cross, along with another member of Outcome, are in a desolate cabin in the middle of Alaska – he was doing some brutal mandatory training in the wilderness – so their fate would seem to be a nice missile launched from a Predator Drone. Cross barely makes his escape and it doesn’t take much connect-the-dots to figure out his masters are trying to take him out. Making matters worse for him, he’s quickly running out of special pills (blue and green), with one helps keeps his mind sharp and he needs to find more supply.
In the meantime, we meet a scientist named Dr. Marta Shearing (RACHEL WEISZ) who is in charge of doing physicals on the members of Outcome, taking specimens and running tests. As you might imagine, one such patient, shown through flashbacks later on, was in fact Aaron Cross. In any case, since all avenues of the conspiracy had to be eliminated, the CIA drugs/brainwashes one of the scientists working at the facility to shoot the place up and kill scientists closest to the operation, though Shearing’s life is spared in the nick of time.
Shearing is back home and gets a visit by a couple agents wanting to debrief her on the shooting, but things soon turn sour and it’s evident they are there to clean up by attempting to make her death look like a suicide. Before they are able to succeed, however, Cross busts in and saves the day and does what any genetically trained super-agent can do: kick ass with efficiency. After some trepidation from Marta, she goes on the run with Cross as they try to outrun those trying to kill them, namely Cross’ former commander, Eric Byer (EDWARD NORTON), who was put in charge of cleaning up the CIA’s mess.
Both Cross and Shearing need each other, Cross because he needs special pills to keep his mental skills up and Shearing to, well, stay alive. She reveals to Cross that she doesn’t have access to the pills but if she can inject him with some sort of virus medicine (I wasn’t full following the lingo at this point), which will make his mental sharpness permanent but could also get him sick and even lead to being brain dead. The bigger problem is, the plant with this injection is in the Philippines and even with fake ID’s, the still manage to catch the attention of Byer.
Can they outrun the CIA, NSA, etc before it’s too late? I think we all know the answer to that question and unfortunately there’s not much else going on in Legacy which, unlike its predecessors, seemed to have a much larger plot going on by comparison.
While hardly a great movie when compared with Ultimatum, The Bourne Legacy is no doubt entertaining with one high octane chase sequence and a main character who is a suitable replacement for Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne. Jeremy Renner marks his, by my count, third appearance in an already established franchise (The Avengers and Mission Impossible being the other two) and it’s easy to see why Hollywood is intent on boosting his star power as he possesses a great on-screen personality which quickly helps endear him to audiences no matter the part or little character development (see his Hawkeye in Avengers). Here, he shows he has the physical physic to pull off the role and even a bit of dry humor to break the ice.
As the love interest, such as she is, Rachel Weisz works well with Renner and by the third act, the pair share some nice chemistry which, if there is a Bourne 5, would be nice to see their relationship expanded some more. Unlike the previous movies, save for Bourne and Parsons – and their past really needs explaining – Weisz’s Shearing character has direct involvement with who Cross and in fact shares the same outcome with him as well being chased by Byer.
In the antagonist role, the main one anyway, Edward Norton doesn’t have a whole hell lot to do and outside of a flashback scene, doesn’t interact with Cross at all and spends all of his time looking at TV and computer screens and scolding/schooling others about how the whole scandal needs to be properly covered up. He’s not as formidable or overbearing compared with Conklin (Cooper) in Identity, Landy (Allen)/Abbott (Cox)/Kirill (Urban) in Supremacy or Vosen (Strathairn)/Paz (Ramirez) in Ultimatum, but much like Aaron Cross replacing Jason Bourne, he’s suitable enough.
The Bourne Legacy you could say is a family affair. It was co-written and directed by Tony Gilroy, co-written by older brother Dan Gilroy (trivia: married to actress Rene Russo) and edited by younger brother John Gilroy and in all three instances, they certainly make a serviceable action-thriller but in the editing department, especially through the first 10-15 minutes, was confusing especially if one either never seen Ultimatum or hasn’t seen it in many years (as some shots, plot setup and characters are taken directly from the last outing). It also doesn’t help that this area, outside maybe Aaron Cross’ Alaskan exploits (which seems to have been inspired by The Grey), it’s all fairly boring.
Having said that, once the plot does pick up, the film begins to develop some momentum and become a solid action flick even when the plot itself is on the weaker side. And that’s what Legacy boils down to. It’s a competently made movie but the plot is at best thin and the only things left is a compelling main character in Cross, a nice try at connecting it with Ultimatum and some action scenes that were thrilling and well shot in locations not seen too many times before.
As it stands, The Bourne Legacy is an entertaining spy-thriller that might be a bit overly interconnected early on but turns into a fun flick with some nice action sequences and introduces us to Aaron Cross who is a decent replacement for Jason Bourne. Although it doesn’t quite measure up to its predecessors, it’s still a worthy installment in the franchise.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.25/5
Feature Commentary – Sitting down for the movie are Director/Co-Writer Tony Gilroy, Co-Writer Dan Gilroy, Editor John Gilroy, Director of Photographer Robert Elswit, Second Unit Director Dan Bradley and Production Designer Kevin Thompson. This is a crowded field for sure but each group gives a different perspective on how certain scenes were conceived, shot, edited, etc. What I especially like is the fact that not only is it informative but it’s also relatively light-hearted as well.
Deleted Scenes (6:48) – Only three scenes are included but they at least have an optional commentary in which Gilroy and company explains why they were removed. The one scene, in which Cross is pulled over, is actually pretty good if only to see the level he went into his cover story. The other scene involves Albert Finney which was unfortunately cut if only to see the vet actor, and his character, get some due time.
Re-Bourne (6:11) is a short EPK-esque featurette where we get some behind-the-scenes footage plus cast/crew interviews on going on with the franchise without its star, coming up with a story and the new characters.
Capturing Chaos: The Motorbike Chase (7:49) – This last featurette goes behind the scenes for the movie’s big chase sequence and how it was filmed.
Previews – Death Race 3: Inferno, Ted, Hit & Run, Dead in Tombstone
VIDEO – 3.75/5
The Bourne Legacy arrives on DVD presented in its original 2.40 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. The transfer here is pretty much on par with other recent DVD releases with a discernible amount of grain and some artifacting around the edges. It’s not the cleanest transfer but suitable enough.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track sounds great, and immersive, throughout and on every level from dialogue, coming primarily from the center channel, to the many action scenes which especially helps the track come to life. As far as lossy tracks go, it’s pretty impressive.
OVERALL – 3.25/5
Overall, The Bourne Legacy is a fine entry in the series and while it’s not as good as the previous three or as well polished, it’s still a fun movie with solid action scenes that keeps good pace after the first 10-15 minutes. As Aaron Cross, Jeremy Renner proves that he is a rising star and being on his own for the first time (since he’s a supporting player in Ghost Protocol and The Avengers), he does a fine job in the lead. Even though Legacy is as well refined as the other movies in the series, the potential is there for another sequel and, if the box office is decent, a finale that involves the title character again.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman