I had mixed feelings going into this movie. As a big fan of the “Bourne” films, I was disheartened to find out that Matt Damon and the director of the second and third films, Paul Greengrass, left the fourth film in its beginning stages. And later to find out that Universal was still going through with a fourth installment? – I was iffy to say the least. However, I recant my original feelings of well over a year ago and fully embrace what director Tony Gilroy and his co-writer brother, Dan Gilroy, have done for this exciting and always entertaining franchise.
The Bourne Legacy opens with Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) in an all-too familiar position that started off The Bourne Identity – Cross lying still underwater. He snatches up a vessel and comes out of the freezing Alaskan lake water and warms up by a fire, though Cross hardly seems to be bothered by the cold at all. The first half-hour of Legacy intercuts between Cross tackling nature (hiking, climbing mountains, fighting off packs of wolves and most importantly, taking a green and blue pill with every passing day) and Eric Byer’s (Edward Norton) task of heading damage control at Langley after the Jason Bourne fiasco.
If you remember the end of The Bourne Ultimatum, Jason Bourne exposes the top-secret projects, Treadstone and Blackbrier, to the public, causing chaos amongst the organizations responsible within the government. That’s the mess that Byer is left to clean up – and to start, he orders that all the agents in Project Outcome be assassinated. Aaron Cross is one of these targets. After narrowly escaping a missile with his name on it, Cross sets off to find Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) and get his hands on more of these pills he’s been taking. Unlike Bourne who had already been enhanced, Cross is being given a new drug that alters his chromosomes to generate a smarter, faster and stronger agent. But if he goes too long without taking the blue pill, he will suffer a terrible fate.
That is the basic plot behind The Bourne Legacy – Cross getting his medicine – which may seem dull on its own, but in the Bourne universe there isn’t a boring beat. Tony Gilroy, having written on all three of the previous films, again weaves an excellent and intriguing story, filled with action, conspiracy, and globe-trotting escapades. Sure, there might be less action in this film than previous ventures, but it more than makes up for it with its complexity and performances. The first thing the team behind Legacy did right was cast Renner. There is a vulnerability to Renner that Damon’s character never quite had and on top of that, Renner’s Cross is also quite conversable and even finds time to make jokes. His and Weisz’s chemistry is great match as well, never crossing the line into a romantic relationship – which is quite played out in action-thrillers.
As mentioned previously, Jason Bourne does play a part in The Bourne Legacy. No, Matt Damon is not in it (besides pictures), but rather the filmmakers use the pre-existing story to set-up a new one – the one of Aaron Cross. Personally, I am excited to see where this new story will go. Will they drop the “Bourne”? Will Damon and Renner join forces? I don’t care if either of those happens really, as Renner has successfully led this film on his own and created a new action hero audience can get behind. The next adventure surely awaits.