The Bourne Legacy (2012) – Review

3 Stars

How do you review a films like The Bourne Legacy? The Bond movies have turned into serious pieces of art. The Mission Impossible franchise is glossy low brow fun. Then we have the Bourne series, which plays like Sidney Lumet’s The Verdict inter-cut with a Michael Bay flick. In this particular instance, it worked for me. Although I think I’ve had my fill of the Bourne universe at this point.

Though sorely lacking Matt Damon’s presence his character is still a catalysis for the story. Due to the ongoing manhunt for Jason Bourne the agency decides that it is time to eliminate all human assets. Aaron Cross(Renner) and his peers are to be unwittingly terminated by voluntary ingestion of a triangular yellow pill. Problem is that Cross escaped being blown to bits in an assignation attempt and is now on the loose without his meds. Turning the main character into a junkie in essence, is a nice touch. It at least shows a human vulnerability that was all but lacking from the last two sequels. Rachel Weisz plays a doctor for the corporation supplying special blue and green bills to Cross and his fellow operatives in Operation Outcome.

There isn’t much meat to the plot but, because the film is jammed with technical jargon and acronyms of government agencies, the script seems fuller than it actually is. This is the kind of movie that showcases characters doing random things and then clarifies later. For instance Aaron Cross is on the run from a tracking drone, when he pulls out a foil pan and duct tapes it to his left thigh. When we see him slice the tracking device from his left hip, we realize what that strange evasive tact was earlier on.

Jeremy Renner has never registered on screen before. I saw his acclaimed work in The Hurt Locker and honestly I thought his ten minute stint in SWAT was more effective. He was a limp and wasted presence as the least valuable member of The Avengers. So I had little hope for him or this Bourne franchise, particularly after the overly self-important sequels leading up to this fourth outing. He is fantastic and credit to writer/director Tony Gilroy for not only taking on a project of this physical scope, but also for reviving a franchise that I believed had lost all sense of creativity and interest. This is the best Bourne film since the first.

Director: Tony Gilroy
Stars: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton

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