August 10, 2012
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Albert Finney
Director: Tony Gilroy
The fundamental problem with The Bourne Legacy is that it contains too much talking and very little action. It’s a far cry from the earlier Bourne films, particularly Supremacy and Ultimatum, both directed by Paul Greengrass whose frenetic shaky-camera shooting style and breathless direction turned those films into smart, realistic action-thrillers.
Tony Gilroy, who’s co-written and directed The Bourne Legacy (and who co-wrote each of the three earlier Bourne films), is clearly more interested in the cerebral over the visceral. Much of the new film involves characters solemnly watching footage on television screens and discussing what can only be very important matters in deathly serious tones. But the truth is, although lots of information is thrown at you, very little is interesting or even crucial to the plot.
Jeremy Renner takes over as leading man from Matt Damon (the actor left the franchise in 2010 when Greengrass famously decided he didn’t want to do another Bourne film; Damon said he wouldn’t do one without Greengrass), although The Hurt Locker star doesn’t play Jason Bourne. He’s Aaron Cross, another highly skilled superspy on the run from the CIA, who wants him dead in order to cover up all evidence of their own dirty dark secrets. As he dodges government drones and assassins hired by ruthless Col Eric Byer (Edward Norton), Cross enlists the help of Dr Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) to obtain the drugs he needs to keep himself going.
Renner has the presence, but alas not the vulnerability that Damon brought to his role; it’s hard to care for Cross in the manner that you rooted for Bourne, and that could be blamed on his thinly sketched character.
Gilroy cleverly connects this story to the existing Bourne universe, although we never see Jason Bourne in Legacy, However the film suffers considerably on account of its lethargic pace, and the only time you feel like you’re watching a true-blue Bourne film is during that thrilling climatic chase scene through the streets of Manila.
I’m going with two out of five for The Bourne Legacy. After three terrific Bourne films, this is one sequel we didn’t need.
(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)