Movie Review: “The Bourne Legacy” – A Legacy Tainted

Written by Jesse Gelinas August 22, 2012

The “Bourne” series has cast a shadow over the last decade of action films. After a decent Matt Damon action vehicle showed that he was capable of hanging with the big boys, Paul Greengrass took over directing duties and finished the trilogy, taking the films to critical acclaim and grossing over a billion dollar total at the box office. With Damon stepping away from the series, and a new director needed, Tony Gilroy stepped in, bringing in late-blooming superstar Jeremy Renner to fill Jason Bourne’s shoes. The result is less than mindblowing.

*WARNING: Possible Spoilers Below Trailer*

There was never just one…

“Legacy” takes the focus off Jason Bourne, who has allegedly just come back stateside and is still on the run from his handlers. We now meet Aaron Cross, another ‘participant’ in one of the myriad black ops experiments run by the Department of Defense and the CIA. He’s expertly trained, tactically brilliant, and this time around, genetically enhanced. We find him just before the CIA decides to scrap all the operations to cover their tracks. This essentially amounts to wiping out all the participants with poison pills and flashy drone strikes. Aaron goes on the run, and desperate to keep his enhanced abilities from degrading and destroying his body, the hunted becomes the hunter as he tries to track down his super-soldier medicine.

Renner is a good stand-in for the absent Damon. While most series reboots and extra sequels opt for younger stars, Renner is the same age as Damon, making it feel much more consistent as it is supposed to be concurrent with the original trilogy. Renner’s biggest problem is that while he’s charismatic and experienced in the action the role throws him into, he’s just not Damon, and the movie loses a bit of class the trilogy had. The rest of the cast is solid enough but seems to sleepwalk through some scenes. Ed Norton and Scott Glenn were a little bit wasted in their respective roles as the antagonists trying to snuff out our juiced up not-Damon. The always lovely Rachel Weisz gives a less than stellar performance as one of Aaron’s doctors and possible love interest. It’s a shame, mainly because it seems like most of the weakness in the performances seems to stem from shoddy writing.

Fist fighting with wolves stands in for three movies worth of character development

As I said above, the movie is missing something the trilogy had. While the Damon films seemed very grand and intense throughout, the not-Damon movie just doesn’t have the same flair. It’s well made enough, but it just doesn’t feel the same. Its plot and execution is overly familiar, and not just for a Bourne film, but for any actioner. It plays out like 50% of all spy blockbusters of the last ten years, and it suffers from being generic. We also get the standard “emotionless psycho killer” experiment that the main cast doesn’t know about, but who suddenly shows up in the third act to challenge our hero. It comes so late in the film that it just seems tacked on and pointless.

The action itself is pretty impressive, but nothing groundbreaking or new. We get a few hand-to-hand fight scenes that are, admittedly, shot better than the Damon movies, and not-Damon is believable in all his fighting and shooting scenes. We’re treated to a couple half-decent chase scenes, including a ludicrous one involving a motorcycle that goes on about 12 minutes too long.

They were given a Ferrari and they treated it like a lawnmower.

Overall, the film just doesn’t live up to its predecessors. It’s not horrible, and it’s not even bad; it’s just so mundane and pedestrian that it barely warrants being made to continue such an impressive action franchise. In the end, it brings down the quality of the series and threatens to turn it into the next “Pirates of the Caribbean” or “Die Hard”. And we all know how that turned out.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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