When we left Bourne five years ago, he was seen jumping off a building into a freezing lake and swimming away to Moby’s music. He had discovered who he really was, had uncovered a major government racket and had put several slimy federal agents and their bosses behind bars. In The Bourne Legacy, Tony Gilroy, the writer of the first three movies takes on the directorial duties and brings a fresh new addition to the universe. And surprisingly, the fourth film doesn’t feel like a cash grab as much as a genuinely thrilling, fun expansion to the story. Mr Bourne does not make a return but everything that made those films entertaining does.
The Bourne Legacy cleverly weaves in and out of the timeline of the previous three films — we’re introduced to Aaron Cross, an agent who has been receiving the same training as Bourne. However things have gone haywire since the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, and CIA honcho Eric Byer (Edward Norton), who heads the super-secret Outcome program which implements mysterious drugs to create super soldiers is under hot water and fears exposure. He has no choice but to tie up all the loose ends and eliminate all the agents who were subjected to the black ops program. Aaron is now on the run and his only way to freedom and survival is a biochemist (Rachel Weisz). What follows is a smart hybrid of Bourne and Gilroy’s film Michael Clayton as Aaron runs, jumps, pummels, drives his way through Byers’ hitmen.
As was the case with the previous three movies, The Bourne Legacy doesn’t the least bit follow the book that it is based on. Gilroy, co-writing with his brother Dan and having his other brother John doing the editing is a fascinating filmmaker. The one thing that made the previous two films so exciting was the gritty shaky camera. However Gilroy just forgoes that technique and instead brings a glossy, glamorous feel to the film, yet keeping the grittiness intact.
The film itself is slightly low on big action scenes compared to Ultimatum, but that is offset with the airtight plotting and the star Jeremy Renner who finally gets his due as a Hollywood lead. Naturally, Renner has nothing on the sheer magnetism of Matt Damon but he’s still a believable action hero and seems completely devoted to his role.
Weisz is only slightly more fleshed out than Franka Potente as the token heroine in the previous movies but Norton seems wasted in his role —there’s hardly anything antagonistic about him, and hopefully he’ll be better explored in the next film. The only major disappointment is the Bollywood style finale and your opinion of it will depend heavily upon how much you liked Gilroy’s previous movies. The Bourne Legacy is an engaging and imaginative fourth installment. Hopefully in the next film we’ll see Aaron teaming up with Bourne to kick various layers of ass.