Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Genre: Action, Adventure
Run Time: 2 hours 15 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Scott Glenn
Directed by Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, Duplicity)
It's no wonder Matt Damon bailed on the Bourne franchise after now seeing what little is left of it. The Bourne Legacy is the 4th installment in the series, and the first one that doesn't star Matt Damon. His Jason Bourne character is mentioned a lot, and his mugshot is seen on TV broadcasts, but he isn't. I'd guess that Bourne or Damon wouldn't want their names attached to this mess.
Taking place during the events of the third film, The Bourne Ultimatum, this new chapter follows agent Aaron Cross, who like Jason Bourne, is a highly-skilled experimental agent. Given top-secret drugs to enhance his mental and physical skills, Cross is one of several of these CIA operatives scattered across the globe. Because of the events of the previous film, this government program is being shut down. As all of the other agents are systematically killed off, Cross is the lone survivor.
Edward Norton plays Eric Byer, who is the shady top-level CIA boss tasked with finding Cross and eliminating the remnants of this program. Rachel Weisz plays a scientist who teams up with Cross once Cross learns that he needs to find more little blue and green pills to help him survive.
These pills, apparently, are what makes Cross function properly, so he is running from the government to stay alive, but he is also running against the countdown clock of time. The Bourne Addiction, anyone?
Gone is the mystery and intrigue that is found in The Bourne Identity, the first and strongest film in the series. Cross doesn't have amnesia, he just kind of reacts to people wanting to constantly kill him. It's never clear what Cross wants to accomplish once he gets his much-needed pills, or how he fits into the main Bourne storyline. It's all kind of inconsequential.
Jeremy Renner is a fine action star, a less-charismatic version of someone like Mark Wahlberg. We don't really get to know too much about Cross, since mindless action seems to be the movie's main purpose. Why clutter all of that action with plot and character?
Perhaps the saddest diversion from the first three films is that this one is long, clunky and slow. The bread and butter of the Bourne films has been the relentless, imaginative action sequences and the breath-taking pace at which the films move, but for nearly the first hour of The Bourne Legacy we are reduced to watching people explain the science behind which color pill has what effect.
But let's not mince words here, The Bourne Legacy is a cheap rip-off, trying to cash in on the name of the series without delivering any of the same style. The climactic (or anti-climactic) car and motorcycle chase towards the end of this film is one of the clumsiest, messiest action scenes perhaps of all time. It goes on seemingly forever, and to call it a "shaky-cam" sequence would be like calling an earthquake a hiccup. Then suddenly, the film just ends.
Well not really...it's less of an ending and more of a set-up for future installments. So not only was the journey through this film a painful and tedious one, but we don't get any sense of closure to boot.
This series deserve better. If this is the legacy of the Bourne franchise, I'd pray for amnesia.
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