‘The Bourne Legacy’ Review


Film Pulse Score

'The Bourne Legacy' Review 2
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Release Date: August 10, 2012
Director: Tony Gilroy
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Film Pulse Score: 6/10

How do you continue the Bourne franchise without Jason Bourne?  It’s a question often asked since this fourth film in the surprise hit franchise was announced and a question not easily answered.

In response, director/writer Tony Gilroy and star Jeremy Renner give us a film that’s part sequel and part reboot with a little bit of origin story thrown in for good measure.

Renner is Aaron Cross, agent in the newly christened “Outcome” intelligence project.  Unlike the field agents in the previous Bourne films, Outcome’s agents are kept on a leash by their dependency on chemicals that keep their edge sharp.

When Cross finds himself hunted by his own people (sound familiar?) after Outcome is shut down, he goes to search for the one person he remembers that can help him obtain more of the drugs that make him the agent he is – Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz, employing her typical grace).

The plot set in motion, the two lead the CIA and FBI (amongst others) on a worldwide chase.  While the execution is hard to fault (much less shaky cam than the original trilogy, for instance), the film has a lot of “been there, seen that” working against it.

It is clear that some of the moments are clear homage to scenes in the first three films, but even considering that, the set pieces begin to feel repetitious and over-familiar.

The film’s best scenes are when it moves away from the frenetic chases and toward character moments.  Edward Norton is a highlight here, playing a frustrated, no-nonsense intelligence director who does things because they need to be done, not because he is ordered to do them.  He and his team recall Tommy Lee Jones’ team of US Marshals in The Fugitive albeit with more typing than gunplay.

When Renner and Weisz share the screen alone there is an odd, yet intense closeness to their relationship that gives the story weight, but the film lingers on those moments for too short a time, electing instead to fill the running time with one pursuit after another.

Don’t misunderstand. Legacy is not a bad entry in the series but whether it is held back by being too closely tied to what came before or the necessity to tell what amounts to Aaron Cross’s origin story, The Bourne Legacy suffers from not being able to stand on its own as an experience.  The filmmakers seem to lack confidence in the material, re-using so many ideas that it feels like déjà vu.

The actors are more than up to the task, but when all is said and done, The Bourne Legacy ironically suffers from its link to its own legacy – that of Jason Bourne.

One can only hope that if and when the inevitable sequel sees the light of day, those behind it are able to remove the oxygen and let the new story breathe on its own.

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