Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is a new breed of spy. As part of the Outcome project, he takes daily pills to amp his physical and mental capacities, making him a formidable badass for the CIA. Project participants are much more reliable than the broken-headed hot mess that was Treadstone. But with Jason Bourne still out there and an expose forthcoming in the foreign press, bureaucratic flunky Eric Byer (Edward Norton) is tasked to clean it up and chooses to burn the program and start anew. Instead of pink slips, he’s passing out toe tags.
Cross survives the kill order and is starts looking for answers. First up is Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), who’d examined and evaluated him as part of the program. Mind you, she had to survive a shootout at the lab and a hit team at her cabin, with Cross’ help, as he came in search of pills. Cross is running low on meds and options and the government is pulling out all the stops to put him and the good doctor away for good. Will he be able to get his head right before someone puts a bullet in it?
Written and directed by Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, Duplicity), screenplay writer for Bournes 1, 2 and 3, The Bourne Legacy doesn’t even manage to live up to the very low expectations I had walking into the theater. It’s essentially the same animal as the expansion of The Matrix into a franchise: a bad idea. Like me, you’ll leave the theater wondering where all the awesome fight scenes were. The last I’d checked, the first three Bourne flicks, pounding-for-pounding, were the most action-packed movie franchise ever. So how is it that the man responsible for writing the first three flicks writes and directs a follow-up that has less excitement than a Stephen Hawking lecture? Is it the lack of Ludlum? Was creating a story with no source material from the original novelist that challenging?
Also why is the name “Jason Bourne” invoked 10 times as often as “Aaron Cross”? The creative team should have stuck to moving forward with the new character; instead, the looming specter of the Company’s most notorious head-case still gives the G-men the willies. Don’t expect any loose ends to get tied up. Denouement is apparently a thing of the past; the ending is so abrupt you won’t realize it’s over until the trademark franchise music starts.
The stellar cast covers its end of the bargain, and Renner is more than capable as the latest big screen wet work expert. Norton is likewise excellent as the dedicated agency stooge, and Weisz is charming as the naïve chemist.
The Bourne Legacy is essentially a high-budget piece of fan fiction, a ton of familiar concepts glued together by wasted talent and some sub-par action sequences. Avoid this still-Bourne flick.