The Bourne Legacy feels a bit like Jason Bourne fan fiction. It’s in the same universe and has many of the same elements and characters, but it’s obvious someone else created it. It will never live up to the original, and at its best will be a fun take on the story. At its worst it will constantly remind you that you’re not watching the original.
I’m not a fan of the Bourne franchise, but I can respect what it did and how it did it. Legacy attempts to piggy-back on the story and cinematography of the previous three, but is largely unsuccessful. Jeremy Renner is good, but not as good as Matt Damon. The action sequences are fast paced, but lack much of the intensity that the scenes from the first three had. The plot lacks a sense of realism that was evident in the previous installments. I’m actually thinking I should go back and re-watch the Bourne films now that I have this one on my mind. I might like them more.
One thing I did find interesting was how Legacy weaves the events from Ultimatum into its plot. It’s an interesting storytelling device– one that was lifted from The Bourne Supremacy/Ultimatum, where the final scene from Supremacy is continued in Ultimatum. I get what the filmmakers are trying to do, but it just reminds the viewer over and over that they are not watching Jason Bourne. They’re watching some lesser trained government assassin that sort of has something to do with the program Bourne served under.
This movie could’ve been really good. It’s biggest flaw is that it constantly needs to remind the audience that this is a Bourne movie. Matt Damon does not appear in this film at all, but his character’s name is mentioned countless times. Constantly reminding me that the superior Bourne movies exist is not the best way to hold my attention. It just makes me wish I was watching the good Bourne films instead. The Marvel comics films have shown how best to create a shared universe. They don’t harp on the fact that these people exist in different movies. It’s usually mentioned once or twice and then the film makers assume the audience has enough common sense to follow along with them. The makers of this film should’ve trusted their audience the same way.
This film follows the events in the last Bourne film, The Bourne Ultimatum. The existence of the secret CIA department, Blackbriar is potentially going to be leaked to the public. To prevent this, CIA agent Eric Byer (Edward Norton) decides to shut the program down, executing anybody that had knowledge of the program. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is a spy in the Blackbriar program that evades the assassins sent to eliminate him. He seeks out Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), who has treated him in the past, hoping to get some medication he needs to keep having his extraordinary physical abilities and enhanced intelligence given to him as part of the Blackbriar program. The spies in Blackbriar are drugged regularly to keep themselves at peak fitness and Cross needs these drugs or he will begin to lose his abilities. Cross and Dr. Shearing search the globe for these drugs, while simultaneously trying to avoid detection by Byer and the rest of the CIA.
The plot is a little far fetched, especially when compared to Matt Damon’s three ultra realistic films. Having the spies get their abilities from drug use didn’t really mesh with the world that was created in the first three films. I wish they hadn’t even mentioned Jason Bourne in this movie. It would’ve made the film much more enjoyable. Renner is a cool lead and there are great action scenes throughout the movie, but because the film makers ram it down your throat that this is a Bourne film, it’s really hard not to compare the film with those movies. Which is a shame for The Bourne Legacy because not many action films are on par with the first three Bourne movies.