I think I was the only one in the theater who was just OK with the result of The Bourne Legacy, that fourth (and borderline unnecessary) installment of a franchise that I quite liked. But, in all honesty, I didn’t know what the hell was going on in this movie which A.) Speaks volumes for my intelligence and B.) Should be an alert for all of you who do plan on watching the movie. In other words: DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Live and breath Bourne the days before you watch this. Legacy overlaps with the previous one and pulls a lot of information from the ones before that. If you go in their cold, then you’ll probably be a little lost in the movie’s slow and murky first act where the absence of Jason Bourne, the void of Pam Landy is filled with that of Eric Byer (Edward Norton) and the new “Bourne” is in the form of Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) who dons a weird hillbilly hipster beard in the beginning. It just doesn’t work for him.
The thing about this movie is that, even though it is technically part of the whole Bourne-iverse, it is clearly a different voice. Well, that’s obvious because it is a new hero and the novel was not written by Bourne daddy, Robert Ludlum. Instead, it was written by Eric Van Lustbader — but all that doesn’t matter because they didn’t base the movie on the book. They treated it as a spin-off, but they just used the title of the next book as the title of the movie. Apparently, the movie has no similarities to it’s literary namesake.
Wow. I just read what I wrote and it totally doesn’t make sense.
In any case, Legacy (the movie) starts off with Cross living in the snow-capped mountains in an area that has snow-capped mountains. He is a field agent for the CIA’s OTHER project, Operation Outcome. Since Bourne screwed Operation Blackbriar, they decide to kill off all their field agents in Outcome (the ones they show being off’d HAPPEN to be Korean, Black, and Middle Eastern. RACIST MUCH?) Of course, Aaron and his lumberjack beard dodges this bullet as well as a pack of wolves that may as well be crossover characters from The Grey. He exchanges his Berkeley REI look for a more clean-shaven John Varvatos “rock and roll spy” persona to seek out the help of Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), an Outcome scientist who examined him back in the day. The two then become the mouse to Byer’s cat in a cat and mouse chase. Also, Aaron is some sort of super-duper agent because of these green and blue pills he takes. So there’s that.
That is what happens for over two hours. And I guess I had fun. The one thing that differentiates Aaron from Jason is that he has more of a sense of humor. Jason was more of a amnesiac killing machine. Aaron uses his fancy fighting and tactical skills to beat up Filipino rent-a-cop security guards and make MacGyver weapons out of nails and fire extinguishers. They are two totally different dudes. I don’t think they would get along.
There are a great deal of thematic elements that I probably should have focused on in this movie…and they were probably important. The things I focused on were 1.) Aaron’s beard, 2.) Aaron’s wardrobe, 3.) the absence of Jason Bourne (naturally), 4.) the absence of Pam Landy, 5.) having expectations of Julia Stiles just popping up at any random moment and 6.) the fact that Aaron was a crackhead. The whole movie seems to focus on Aaron’s insatiable need for these green and blue pills that make him strong and smart. He was getting pretty aggro at Marta when she said she knew nothing about the pills. When he finally runs out they go all the way to the Philippines so he can get his fix.
So when they get to the P.I. he gets his fix so that he can “viral out” of his addiction (a.k.a. detox). As soon as that happens he and Marta are strong enough to do a template third world rooftop to rooftop, shanty to shanty, slum to slum chase with Manila police officer which all ends in a glorious motorcycle chase with a mysterious Asian dude who looks like a Banana Republic model from the late ’90s.
As you can see, I focused on the things that probably distracted me from concentrating on the things that mattered — but that is testimony to the movie’s ability to keep a movie ho like me entertained. Legacy is the weakest link in the Bourne franchise. I’m not 100 percent sold on Renner as an action star — but he certainly is gaining traction. I’m just not really sure that the Bourne franchise was the way to go.
It was very difficult for me to get interested in this. I was more interested with searching through the faces in the background during the scenes in the Philippines in hopes to find long lost relatives that I would avoid. And if anything, I must support this movie becuase director Tony Gilroy wrote Cutting Edge, the figure skating rom-com masterpiece that has withstood the test of time.
The Bourne Legacy opens in theaters today.