As soon as this continuation of the Bourne films was announced it was much debated how the story would continue on without the title character involved. Then with Jeremy Renner eventually attached it seemed like there was nothing to worry about; it just turns out we may have been looking in the wrong place for where this could all go wrong.
The Bourne Legacy takes place as a parallel storyline to The Bourne Ultimatum (the third film in The Bourne Trilogy), with a lot of the story focusing on events that we saw in the previous film to keep the timeline in order. While our rather secretive agencies must deal with the fallout of Bourne’s doings, they have their hands full with other programs that have been brought into a tough situation, including another super agent program that can no longer exist if everything comes to light. Too bad for them not everyone is willing to just stand there as the house is cleaned around them.
A lot of trust could have been placed on Renner as he has proven to be an action star in his previous films, and with Rachel Weisz in tow Legacy really was golden. Unfortunately, there seemed to be a lack of faith in this film, or simply a fear that it wouldn’t be able to stand on its own following the trilogy that came before. In case the title alone doesn’t give it away, the filmmakers were hoping to ride the coattails of Jason Bourne, which ends up coming back to bite them. Too much time is spent reminding us of what came before within the inner workings of the agency as Edward Norton deals with his full hands to contain the situation, without devoting enough time to Cross to create an equally intriguing and complex story and character. For example, the beginning of the film stretches on as it is devoted to the process of cleaning house, all the while Cross is alone out in the snowy woods before finally coming back home to cut ties by fighting a drug reliance he has thanks to the program he was a part of.
The beginning isn’t the only part that seems to drag, even as Renner and Weisz do their all to create their own story within this world. Each puts in a great performance, the obvious being what we expect from Renner as far as some great action sequences on top of his overall acting skills (though a motorcycle chase towards the end definitely fell short in comparison to the car chase in the first film, as well as comes too late in the film), with Weisz acting out the realistically terrified tag along. Matter of fact, she actually steals one of the best action oriented moments from Renner just because of how comically she failed only seconds before. Yet their story together still needed more time to grow and develop to help us learn about our new protagonist, but instead their reigns were held tightly whereas they should have just given these characters free range to build a film equal to the others as a stand-alone.
The Bourne Legacy has the strength in action and acting equal to its predecessors, but unfortunately the film is treated like a subplot to The Bourne Ultimatum as it struggles to become a film on its own simply because it isn’t given the opportunity to do so. Shame on you, um… whoever is to blame. Shame on you.
Final Grade: C+