The Bourne Legacy Review

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Year: 2012
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 1 HR, 58 MIN

Director:  Tony Gilroy
Writers:  Tony Gilroy, Dan Gilroy, and Robert Ludlum
Starring:  Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach, Scott Glenn, David Strathairn, Donna Murphy, Zeljko Ivanek, and Joan Allen

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It’s almost hard to believe that its been ten years since The Bourne Identity was released to both critical and financial acclaim.  In the years that followed we saw two extremely successful sequels, The Bourne Supremacy in 2004 and The Bourne Ultimatum in 2007.  Rumors continued to swirl about another film but eventually Damon and Paul Greengrass (director of Supremacy & Ultimatum) both passed on the project and it went into limbo.  Now five years later Jason Bourne’s legacy continues in the aptly named ‘spin off’ The Bourne Legacy.

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The consequences of Jason Bourne’s actions in helping expose Treadstone and project Blackbriar have far reaching implications as the government tries to quietly wrap up their other clandestine operations by killing all of their operatives including Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner).  After escaping assassination Cross traverses the globe to find Dr. Marta Shearing, an on the run government scientist that can help him understand what was done to him.  They work together to stay one step ahead in a dangerous cat & mouse game with far reaching  ramifications.

The Bourne Legacy is a bit of a departure from the other Bourne films.  It’s not a straight forward action film like its predecessor but it doesn’t fall neatly into the drama category either.  An action-drama sums it up pretty well but honestly those categories should be reversed.  The film’s emphasis on drama over action doesn’t always work.  A large portion of The Bourne Legacy is spent watching computer screens and listening to Edward Norton talk about the danger these operatives pose to national security.  Exposition is usually a poor substitute for action and that is definitely the case here.

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Jeremy Renner is a good actor, he’s proven that quite often over the past few years but something doesn’t seem right when he plays a  spy.  Obviously the tone of his role as William Brandt in Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol is quite different than his role as Aaron Cross in The Bourne Legacy but there’s something very un-spy about him.  On more than one occasion I thought to myself, “I’d rather see Edward Norton play this role.”  Norton is only a year older than Damon and two years older than Renner.  They actually tried to make Norton look older by ‘salting’ his peppered hair.

Despite its miscasting and narrative ‘quirks’ The Bourne Legacy is still a decently exciting film.  There are some long droughts in the action as I mentioned before but when there is action it’s well done.  To those that have been critical of the Paul Greengrass “shaky cam” Bourne films you’ll be happy to hear that things are much more steady here.  Some of the action sequences are repetitive of the earlier films but there are only so many ways you can have a car chase through the streets of a foreign country or a standoff between well trained lethal assassins.  It’s more of the same but its well done and does a good job compensating for the slower aspects of the film.

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The Bourne Legacy isn’t a great film, it’s not a bad film, but it’s passable and it succeeds more often than it fails.  Even though Jeremy Renner isn’t not my idea of a spy he still gives a decent performance as does the rest of the cast and the film looks great.  If your fan of the Matt Damon Bourne films you’re likely to find something to like about The Bourne Legacy; if you’re a little more luke warm about the franchise you should give it a pass.

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Written by

Nicholas Herum