Movie ReviewsRating: 3 of 5 yaps

The Bourne Legacy

At 2¼ hours, “The Bourne Legacy” is essentially one big long chase scene that never wants to stop, and with good reason. Because whenever it does, the audience starts thinking about the characters and the plot — how thinly drawn the former are and how the story structure crumbles to ashes with even a cursory examination.

As you probably know, this is the fourth movie in the Bourne superspy franchise, and it’s missing one notable quantity: Jason Bourne. Matt Damon is out, and Jeremy Renner is in, but it’s not just a cynical recasting of the same character by a different actor. Instead, it’s an entirely different guy, but set in the same universe and caught in the same situation.

Jason Bourne is apparently still around; at one point, we hear he’s spotted in Manhattan. But the CIA spooks cooped up in their now-ubiquitous high-tech control rooms are instead focused on Aaron Cross (Renner) instead. They peer at computer screens, which seem to be wired into every video camera on the planet, plus satellites up above, and shout urgent orders at each other that seem to have no real-world effects whatsoever.

One wonders if across town, another group of spymasters are jammed into another room barking their own orders in pursuit of Bourne.

No matter. Director Tony Gilroy, who co-wrote the screenplay with brother Dan, is less concerned with the whys and wherefores of the story than just keeping the action moving.

Cross first appears in a snowy mountain range, stalked by wolves and other dangers. Why is he stranded out there? Neither he, nor we, are ever really sure. But it seems that Outcome, the ultra-secret program of which he was an agent, has been deemed too dangerous to continue to exist. To wit: The CIA is busy killing all the spies, and Cross is the last one left.

It’s a bit of a cheap ploy that all the Bourne movies have recycled. Bourne was in a program called Treadstone, but when its cover was blown they initiated another program, Briarpatch, to clean up the mess of Treadstone. Now it’s Outcome that is the target and — yes, you guessed, there’s another program beyond that one that’s supposed to be even more extreme.

Based on these movies, it seems the CIA doesn’t do anything but create and then shut down super-soldier operations, and all of its agents die trying to kill the “dangerous” agents.

The control method the spies have over the Outcome recruits is that they’re genetically enhanced and must continually take drugs to maintain their physical and intellectual boost. Thus, Cross and his fellows can jump across mountain ravines, take out drone airplanes with a hunting rifle, and be shot, stabbed and pummeled and keep on going … but only if they keep taking their little blue and green pills.

Rachel Weisz plays Marta Shearing, a doctor who administers the drugs to the agents, but is willfully ignorant of what they do until, of course, she becomes a target herself. Cross rides to her rescue, and they’re on the run across the Eastern seaboard, and then the action jumps to Manila in the Philippines.

With the original Bourne movies, there at least was the conceit of Jason’s amnesia to keep the narrative momentum rolling, as he labored to find out who he was, why people were trying to kill him and who was behind it all. Here, the chase is the first, and only, thing.

The action is engaging and daring, including a motorcycle chase that’s positively rousing, as the two-wheeler carrying our heroes skitters and screeches all around the mayhem.

Gilroy, though, has a tendency to place his camera too close to the action, especially the hand-to-hand fight scenes, so we’re never quite aware of exactly what’s happening. Gilroy’s previous credits behind the camera were “Michael Clayton” and “Duplicity,” and his lack of action-movie experience is glaring.

“The Bourne Legacy” isn’t a bad movie, and those just wanting a couple hours of mindless diversion may find it suits the bill. As spy thrillers go, this one’s dumber than the average bear.

3 Yaps

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6 Responses to “The Bourne Legacy”

  1. browneyedgirl953 says:

    I enjoyed the Bourne Legacy. But I had high expectations for this movie as I have loved the other Bourne movies. Matt Damon was great in them and I was sad that he wasn’t in this one. I agree with a previous comment of getting Damon back in with Renner. I probably won’t go to the theater to see another Bourne movie without Damon if one comes out. I would probably give it a 7 out of 10. I would watch it from redbox.

  2. naiga says:

    I was very excited to see this movie! However, I will strongly advise you to see the triology! I spent some time trying to figure out what happened in the triology than watching this movie! Curious to see how they plan to extend the Bourne Franchise!

  3. PantyHose says:

    A very good alternative to Jason and well worth seeing. Full of action and put together very good. An exception co-star and a plot that is very interesting. Very good once you get over the missing Jason.

  4. Beckymk says:

    I agree with the critics that this is one long chase scene. I do not know how they can use the Bourne name as Jason Bourne is mentioned but not in this movie, I think it was a ploy to get people to come and see. It was a far fetched movie but not good enough to bring yet another followup! Enjoyable but not Outstanding.

  5. scott75 says:

    I thought Jeremy Renner was an excellent choice to take over the lead for the Bourne franchise.
    The movie had an intriguing story and did justice to the previous Bourne movies and of course had great action scenes. I liked that they didn’t just recast Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne but instead tied in a completely new character while staying true to the previous movies. Now if only they can convince Matt Damon to come back and join Renner for the next one…

  6. Sundog says:

    While the first Bourne trilogy was more action-all-the-time, I enjoyed the pace of this one. Being the first of hopefully a few more flicks, I viewed it as a pretty good background setup amid the prerequisite shooting/fighting scenes. The side stories helped frame the time period, but got a little old after a while. The best scene for me was probably the one in the cabin where the two agents meet up, as this usually never ends well for one of the agents, so it makes for a few minutes of great interplay between the two.