Remember the Bourne movies? Well, if not, you won’t be able to forget them now. Universal Studios has made it clear that they’re not going to let those sleeping action thrillers lie, even though they were perfect the way they were. That’s not to say The Bourne Legacy is bad. It’s actually pretty good, but it’s marred by its insistence that this movie has to be about Jason Bourne, even though it has nothing to do with Jason Bourne.
Apparently Jason Bourne was only the beginning. The beginning of what, you ask? Good question. Not sure a plot synopsis will answer it for you, but we’ll try. Jeremy Renner plays Aaron Cross, an agent for a CIA program* called Outcome. Outcome involves its agents undergoing physical and mental enhancement using blue and green pills. It’s only connection to Treadstone (Jason Bourne’s program) is that the heads of both Treadstone and Outcome are friends; this knowledge became far too public for top brass’s likings, and given the hooplah surrounding Treadstone after Jason Bourne’s antics, Outcome must terminate all its agents. Why the murder of 9 or so men and women is necessary to protect Outcome, don’t ask me. I don’t need to tell you that Aaron Cross survives their attempts to end his life. However, he still needs those pills, and he knows the only way to get to them is to go after the doctor that used to do his checkups, Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz).
The movie is a little confusing, though honestly the plot isn’t the point of the movie anyway. So why do they have Edward Norton talking about it so much? Norton has so little to do, it’s frustrating, since we know how great of an actor he is (see: American History X, Fight Club, The 25th Hour). Actually, it’s not that I was confused by the plot, I was just frustrated that they spent all that time explaining a plot with so little payoff.
Two things save this movie: the action and the two lead actors. There are several sweet action sequences; the two that stand out to me are one involving Cross’s battle with a wolf and another of a high-speed motorcycle chase across Manila. If nothing more, these scenes made me more frightened of wolves and motorcycles. However, they’re also exciting and well-paced. The action is the pulse of this movie.
If the action’s the pulse, Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz are the heart. Sometimes their lines are gibberish, but they sell the act and get us involved. Renner plays the sympathetic livewire well; we’ve seen this from him before, but I’m glad he has more here to do than in The Avengers, where he was sadly underused. It would be useless to compare him to Matt Damon; Damon is the kind of actor that the audience has always loved. Renner has had to work a little bit longer to reach that point, and maybe he has yet to reach that point. Me? I love him. And Weisz, for that matter. She’s the best thing in the movie; her frantic doctor is believable and relatable, and, somehow, she keeps this movie grounded.
All the Bourne movies have had great endings, filled with intrigue and promise, especially the ending to The Bourne Supremacy (go back and watch it- when those signature Jason Bourne chords hit on the score, it’s pure spy movie magic). Legacy‘s ending is kinda eh. It comes out of nowhere and it’s as clever as it would like to be. No matter- the infernal plotting of this movie is held up by two great stars and some stellar action scenes. Definitely a pretty good movie worth seeing when it comes out on DVD.
*Honestly, I don’t know if it’s a CIA program. Could be anything, really, but does it matter?