Aug 23 2012
In the trailer for The Bourne Legacy, it’s said that Outcome Agent Aaron Cross is “Treadstone without the inconsistency.” In fact, Legacy is not only the original Bourne trilogy without the inconsistency, but without the excitement, intrigue, mystery or really anything else that made the original set of films great.
The two exist in the same universe, but share little other than the fact that a shadowy government organization is pursuing a poor spy as he runs around the globe, female in tow, disarming pursuers with a lightning quick combo of punches.
From the beginning, it’s unclear why exactly anything else in the film happens. Outcome is a project separate from Treadstone where “participants” have their intelligence and physical prowess increased through a regimen of blue and green super pills. With the Treadstone project about to go to trial, a forever unidentified higher up (Ed Norton) deems that the Outcome project must be shut down as well, and by “shut down” he means everyone needs to be murdered rather quickly.
“I apologize, but you need to be dead.”
This includes all field agents, except Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) who escapes a drone strike in Alaska, and Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), whose research team is murdered while she avoids their fate. Cross intercepts Shearing before she’s about to be assassinated after the fact, and the two must go on a journey to get Cross some more blue intelligence pills before his IQ drops enough so that he’s stupid enough to be caught .Yes, you heard that correctly.
What follows is an expected series of fist fights, sprinting and vehicle chases, but none are as fantastic as any from the original three Bourne films, nor is the reason for them compelling. Unlike Bourne’s memory loss, there’s no mystery here, and though Renner is competent as a walking bag of muscles, he doesn’t have Matt Damon’s charisma in the least. The flat script isn’t doing him any favors either, and Cross is merely a generic super spy that could have existed in any similarly themed action thriller.
The way the film tries to remind you that you’re in Bourne’s world is exceptionally confusing. He’s mentioned a few times (“Jason Bourne was only the tip of the iceberg!”), but about twenty minutes into the movie, a quick call is relayed that says Jason Bourne is in Manhattan. That, of course, has audiences holding out for a Damon cameo, but as he wanted nothing to do with this film, he never shows. Not only that, but his whereabouts are simply not mentioned at all for the second half of the movie. It was stupid to hint at an appearance that would never come, and if they were suggesting that he would return for a sequel, there’s probably even less of a chance of that happening than there was of him appearing in Legacy in the first place.
The ending’s motorcycle chase was the first in film history to almost put me to sleep.
And really, the whole film is set up for a sequel that should not, and likely will not, come. It’s fairly obvious that they wanted Cross to take over the franchise from here, and as such, the film ends with nothing at all resolved. It’s so much of an anti-climax people were looking around in confusion as the lights came on.
It’s not a bad concept for a spy film, chromosome enhancing drugs and all, but there needs to be a driving force other than “the government is chasing someone who they trained.” Bourne’s memory loss at least put an interesting spin on the concept, and Damon made the role his own. There’s no such twist in Legacy, and Renner might be a capable actor but it’s hard to say he’s the same caliber of leading man as his predecessor.
Bourne is not Bond. We don’t need an endless series of movies with new agents fighting against a big amorphous blob of government a-holes. The world just isn’t interesting enough for that. If this film did have to be made, they should have taken things in a drastically different direction, not just make a failed clone of the original.
2 out of 5 stars
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