The only thing worse than rebooting a movie too soon is making a sequel to a movie without the main character but pretending the new characters are just as interesting while never letting you forget about the old ones. This is the biggest problem with “The Bourne Legacy”, Universal’s attempt to keep the “Bourne” franchise going even though its previous star, Matt Damon, just wanted to take a little time off. It’s almost like ending a long term relationship with the love of your life and just when you start dating again, your new love interest constantly reminds you how great your last lover was.
In “The Bourne Legacy” we are given Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) as a protagonist. He is yet another member of “The Program” that trained Jason Bourne to be the ruthless and cunning assassin he was before he lost his memory and regained his conscious. When “Legacy” begins, Cross is in Alaska on a training mission. The movie jumps through three different timelines over the course of the first hour, or so, of the film. We get Cross scaling mountains and fighting off wolves in one arc; Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), the creator of the super soldier drugs that enhance these assassins in another; and Col. Eric Byer (Edward Norton), who is working to clean up the mess left by the CIA in the aftermath of Jason Bourne’s adventures from the first three films, in another story arc.
It turns out that the government has been genetically enhancing soldiers with chemical drugs to sharpen both cognitive and physical attributes in order to fix whatever went wrong with Jason Bourne and his assembly line of assassins. This program is called “Outcome” and follows the “Blackbriar” and “Treadstone” programs. These soldiers are more science projects than anything and it becomes obvious that they all have to be taken out before any of it gets to the public.
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Cross is the lone survivor of a purge that eliminates agents all over the globe. Fearing he will crash if he is off the drugs for too long, he tracks down Dr. Shearing hoping she can be his super soldier drug dealer. But she is already become a target for elimination as Byer is trying to wipe out anyone who knew anything about any of these programs so the CIA can go back to doing super-secret missions. Without access to the chems, Shearing and Cross head to the Philippines, where the drugs are created, so she can whip up a virus that will make it so he is a super stud all the time and not need to pop any pill anymore.
The problem with “The Bourne Legacy” is evident almost immediately. It spends a lot of time in the first act reminding the audience that it is a sequel, although neither Matt Damon nor Jason Bourne appears in anything other than pictures. Much of the early part of the movie overlaps with “The Bourne Ultimatum” but it does absolutely nothing to enhance the plot or characters of “Legacy”. You spend half the movie hoping Matt Damon changed his mind and pops up to make everything more interesting and relevant but it never happens.
The only thing that keeps the movie from being a complete and total waste of time is the acting of Renner, Weisz, Norton and company. Everyone rises above what they’re given in the script, playing characters that never really make any sense, but it just never feels necessary. Aaron Cross is never an interesting character, at least nowhere as interesting and complex as Jason Bourne ever was. Bourne was always thinking, always planning and always a step ahead of everyone, where Cross just comes off as a bit of a super soldier junkie.
Speaking of Jeremy Renner, why does it seem like he plays the exact same character in every movie he is in? The guy seems to have talent and good screen presence but between “The Hurt Locker”, “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”, “Marvel’s The Avengers” and now this, the characters all seem like they could be the same person. It might be time for him to break free of the mold and do a comedy.
As for “The Bourne Legacy”, the movie feels big and looks great but it doesn’t really expand on anything that we already were told in any of the other movies. On top of that it takes far too long to really get going. The opening act of the movie jumps back and forth between the three storylines so much and so fast that you almost instantly don’t care about any of it. Of course, that might be more forgivable if there was more action. Every now and then Aaron Cross runs through a room and beats a bunch of dudes up but it never lasts long enough to break up the overly long passages of exposition. The only extended action sequence happens nearly two hours into the movie. By then, you’re just ready for it to end, which is another problem because there is no real resolution.
“The Bourne Legacy” isn’t necessarily a bad movie; it’s just never as good as it leads you to believe throughout the two hour and fifteen minutes of running time. The movie is left open for the continuing adventures of Aaron Cross, but let’s hope they can talk Matt Damon into coming back and joining Cross because this movie sorely missed him.
You can check out show times in Kansas City by hitting up one of your local theatres:
- Alamo Drafthouse
- AMC Theatres
- Cinemark Theatres
- Dickinson Theatres
Or visit one of the local drive-ins:
- Boulevard Drive-In or I-70 Drive-In.
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