Theatrical Review: The Bourne Legacy

Taking place concurrently with the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, we discover in short order that the reach of the Treadstone project goes much further than originally thought with more Treadstone subjects still out there. Jason Bourne’s sheer existence and defiance to the project leads to what could be an even bigger public relations nightmare than what was suggested from the events of The Bourne Ultimatum. Now, a CIA division lead by Eric Byers, the man behind most of the major black ops missions, is out to erase any sort of trace of Treadstone that still exists, though one other Treadstone subject now stands in his way, a man by the name of Aaron Cross.

That’s a broad version of the premise to The Bourne Legacy a new movie designed to expand the Bourne franchise’s life further. What you have here is a movie that feels like the TV pilot for extending the series, and while I think for the most part it’s a pretty enjoyable ride, it’s still has a few problems.

The biggest problem that I see with the film is that it’s just too long and it feels it. The film could probably be tightened up by a good 20 minutes or so. But, there’s also an advantage to its length and that’s with what it does to build up the Aaron Cross character, which I think is actually quite well done. I just wish there had been a comfortable medium here, something that could’ve kept a quicker pace but still give us the Cross build-up.

Another problem that I see with this is that it’s ending is pretty abrupt literally with our central protagonists, Cross and Dr. Marta Shearing, sailing off into the sunset when there should be something more to it. There’s been rumor floating around that Matt Damon could possibly return for a fifth movie in the series and while there was probably no chance that this would happen, this could’ve been punched up considerably if there had been an actual appearance by Damon near the end. Or at the very least, some sort of suggestion that Jason Bourne now also knew of the existence of Aaron Cross.

Some might be disappointed with director Tony Gilroy’s new inclusion of genetic enhancements to the Treadstone subjects, but I thought it was pretty cool and reasonably explained by Shearing once she and Cross have made their way to Manila. It’s basically taking the ideas behind a character like Marvel’s Captain America and trying to make it as real as they can.

The biggest pluses come with the new cast additions. Jeremy Renner plays Aaron Cross and I’ve been a huge fan of Renner’s for quite awhile now. the thing that I really like about Renner’s character is that he’s not playing this part as a tortured pawn, but more embraces what he’s become. He’s done some horrible things in service to his country, but the trade-off , at least from what I see with him, has been worth it, especially as the movie reveals his true origin. Renner has terrific intensity and certainly can sell the action in just the right way. He is terrific here, though I have to say my preference for him is more with the character that he played in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

Rachel Weisz plays Dr. Marta Shearing. Shearing is part of a program called The Outcome and she specifically monitors the Treadstone subjects after their genetic enhancements. Shearing becomes a major component here after a tragic shooting incident occurs at her workplace which of course wipes out anyone who would have any knowledge of what’s really going on. Shearing is the lone survivor and becomes Cross’ lone avenue of keeping himself alive. Weisz, does a pretty good job here and I was particularly impressed with the above-mentioned scene in which she explains to cross just how the subjects are enhanced.

Edward Norton plays Eric Byers and like Renner, certainly brings the right intensity to the part. I don’t necessarily think it’s one of his better parts, but he does command the room once he enters it and has a great flashback scene with Renner that tries to put Cross right with something horrible that he’s just done. Filling out the film and basically giving this continuity with the other Bourne movies, you have Scott Glenn, David Strathairn and Joan Allen all reprising their parts from the previous films in the series.

While I enjoyed The Bourne Legacy it’s still somewhat of a mixed bag, it’s long and it feels it and it’s ending is forced and just doesn’t feel right, but it does introduce a great new character with Aaron Cross, who certainly has potential with this series. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing a fifth film in the series, but if such a thing does happen, I can only hope that they manage to bring back Matt Damon as Bourne and team him with Cross.

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

12. August 2012 by Darren Goodhart
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