Director: Tony Gilroy
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach
THE original Matt Damon-led Bourne trilogy was a hit because of how well it juggled the sum of its parts. Expertly choreographed fight scenes (that, granted, became progressively more obscured by shaky-cam shooting techniques) were buttressed by the compelling plight of a fascinating character, Jason Bourne. But at the foundation of the trilogy were standalone stories that also cleverly tied into a three-film story arc. Basically, story was key and what kept Damon coming back for more.
Unfortunately, this philosophy hasn’t carried over to The Bourne Legacy. While Jeremy Renner presents solid replacement material for Damon, breathing believable life into his Aaron Cross super-spy character, it’s the farfetched storytelling, gappy plot and strangely off supporting cast that makes for a mostly boring and longwinded experience, with only occasional moments of intrigue or brutally effective action.
The usually strong Rachel Weisz doesn’t seem to have a lot to work with for her scientist-on-the-run character, while Edward Norton appears to be in autopilot in his portrayal of the behind-the-scenes bad guy, Eric Byer. While production values are high and there’s enough globetrotting moments for this type of film, The Bourne Legacy takes a sharp departure from the grounded and believable reality of the universe set up in preceding films.
Instead of Alex Cross being a ‘mere’ highly trained operative, the filmmakers have attempted to escalate his abilities by including an odd superhero-type narrative thread. This even ultimately culminates in an out-of-place showdown with a left-field nemesis, which is particularly jarring given the attempts the film makes to connect with the storyline of the original films (and specifically The Bourne Ultimatum).
When the 10-15 minutes of action do happen, though, they are incredibly brutal and intensely rewarding, but leave you wishing that there was more of an emphasis on the fast-paced moments and less on the telling of a story that never really quite works. Given the fact the film ends on a moment that doesn’t feel like a satisfying full stop, it also seems like the filmmakers have deliberately withheld plot closure in the hopes of making more Renner-led movies.
The Bourne Legacy isn’t a terrible film and certainly has some redeeming features. It is, however, an unfortunate example of a half-baked idea that’s more an attempt at cashing in on an established beloved franchise and less of a spinoff sequel that needed to happen.
THE BOURNE LEGACY is in cinemas on the 16th of August.
Review: Nathan Lawrence