With Hollywood struggling to find original ideas for movies, why not continue a successful series, one like the BOURNE movies? They are action packed, exciting movies that sought not only to follow an extraordinary man as he discovered who he was and how he came to be this way, all while under attack from other agents and the government, but also aimed to expose secret government programs. So a sequel would make sense. But wait. Matt Damon’s not coming back as Bourne? Ok. I guess it can follow another agent in a similar program. That would make sense. Paul Greengrass and Doug Limon aren’t either? Well that can’t be good. But it’s directed by Tony Gilroy, the guy who wrote the first three BOURNE movies? Well he’d at least have a handle on the series and understand where to take it next, right? Yeah, no. He doesn’t and THE BOURNE LEGACY doesn’t know what to do with itself.
THE BOURNE LEGACY wants you to believe that it’s continuing in the same vein as the past films. That another agent wants to continue what Bourne started and expose his corrupt superiors. But really all the movie amounts to is a drug addicted super agent in search of more of the pills that grant him his super soldier status. Jeremy Renner takes center stage as black ops agent Aaron Cross. He’s super smart like Bourne and can disarm and kill you in the blink of an eye like Bourne. However unlike Bourne, he’s not an active field agent as he spends the first 40 minutes of the movie roaming around the Alaskan wilderness avoiding wolves à laTHE GREY. While Bourne wanted to find out who he was, Aaron already knows who he really is (even though he responds to a different name) and knows how he came to be in his program. Now I’m not saying that Aaron needs to be a carbon copy of Bourne. I like that Aaron has a sense of humor and is a bit more lively than Bourne but Aaron doesn’t have any of the same cares or concerns about the issues that were brought up in the previous films for this to be described as a Bourne sequel other than the events that are going on around him connect to the last film, of which he takes no notice of. Aaron’s not concerned with the actions his government is taking to get rid of him. He doesn’t wantto stop the government from killing his fellow agents or help spread the word about Blackbriar and similar projects while trying to escape the agent life. Nope, the only thing he cares about is obtaining more of his program-approved pills and that’s it.That’s his mission. It’s all about the pills. I need more pills. “I haven’t had a blue pill in 36 hours.” “I haven’t had a green pill in 51 hours.” Beyond his constant need for pills, there is no character development or any real reason to care about Aaron at all.
Outside of Aaron, a man by the name of Eric Bryer (Edward Norton) is hired by the CIA to eliminate all other agents in programs similar to the one Bourne was in. Eric’s work runs concurrent with THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM and deals with the effects of Pamela Landy making information about Project Blackbriar public. But he doesn’t go around dispatching agents himself. No, he sits inside a building, behind a desk directing others to get the dirty work done. He’s like Landy, tracking Aaron from afar and doing little else than asking for something to be brought up on the big screen.
Rachel Weisz takes on Julia Stiles’ role from the last two films. She's someone who is somehow involved with the program and can help him. In this case she's Dr. Marta Shearing, a virologist who ran performance tests on Aaron over the past four years. After surviving a massacre she wasn’t supposed to, the government targets her and Aaron rescues her. While his intentions seem good, Aaron simply needs her to find out where he can get more pills. He bargains her protection for more pills. This man really needs his fix. But my question is what happens after he gets his pills? Does he continue with the program even though he's not actually a field agent? Does he "viral out", as they put it, and then not need the pills but remain a part of the program? Does he want out of the program at all? Who knows? He doesn’t give a shit what the government does, did or plans on doing. The only thing I do know is this junkie needs his pills ASAP and he will do anything to get them.
There were a few exciting and tense shootouts but they only punctuate long stretches of exposition. There is just. So. Much. Talking. I understand the need to explain the medical basis for the film but dear god, man! It takes for fucking ever for them to get to the point and explain how the pills work. The thing I loved most about the BOURNE series was how little Bourne actually spoke. He found out just enough to be satisfied and proceeded to kick ass the rest of the movie. This is an action movie. Shut your yaps and fight. With all the talking going on, the first action sequence takes about 40 minutes to happen. After that it's another 20-30 minutes. Another 20 after that and it all concludes with the most long-winded chase sequence. I was over the chase long before it ended. I didn’t even care how it ended. I just wanted the movie to be over already! And even then, when there were fight scenes and action sequences Jason Bourne killed bad guys. Aaron primarily kills, not beats up, kills guys who are just doing their job, like security guards, not actual agents or people of equal stature. At least give the man a fair fight against other agents, not Joe from around the block who’s working the night shift to help pay for his kid’s school.
For a movie where the name "Jason Bourne" is dropped so many times you’d expect Matt Damon to at least make a cameo. He doesn’t and rightly so since THE BOURNE LEGACY does little to live up to its predecessors. It’s ridiculously long, terribly boring, pretty one dimensional and doesn’t have a sympathetic hero or do anything to further the story that was set up by THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM. Why the man who helped write the past films thought this was a proper continuation I don’t understand. If you want to expand the Bourne world by bringing in a new agent and follow them, that’s fine but make them an interesting character, a character with a mission greater than himself. Aaron Cross is not that guy and the events going on around him actually begin to close off the world that was introduced in the past films. If they’re smart they’ll leave Aaron Cross alone, because based of this film alone his story has nowhere else to go. But then again Hollywood needs easy money off of a recognizable franchise so prepare to watch them sully the Bourne name in the coming years.