The Bourne Legacy
Directed by: Tony Gilroy
Written by: Tony Gilroy & Dan Gilroy (screenplay), Tony Gilroy (story), Robert Ludlum (series)
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton and Stacy Keach
The Bourne Legacy isn’t another installment in the shaky cam spy series as much as it is a thrown together money grab that uses the world. It takes place largely during the events The Bourne Ultimatum, where the U.S. government apparently was eliminating other super agents like Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne while also trying to track him down. Damon appears only as a mug shot, though, and the screen time largely belongs to Jeremy Renner.
Renner was a good choice to play Aaron Cross even if the movie, directed and co-written by Tony Gilroy, is way too long for what it’s trying to show. The biggest draw of the other Bourne films was how the filmmaking techniques were as efficient and fast-paced as its main character. In this movie’s almost two-and-a-half hour run time, there are long, unnecessary stretches that add nothing.
Like the other movies, it oscillates between the spy and the group in a hidden government office trying to track him down, but the tension is almost completely absent at times. Cross escapes assassination in the Alaskan wilderness in the movie’s first bloated hour, then its off to save the good doctor (Rachel Weisz) who holds the secret to free him from the bonds of the government pills that enhance his physical and mental abilities. Weisz does what she can with the role, but in the end it’s a typical action heroine who has a skill but still needs to be rescued when the guns start blazing.
Tony Gilroy is a director best suited for sleek corridors and quieter behind-the-scenes intrigue. His previous two directorial efforts, Michael Clayton and Duplicity, show a director perfectly capable of handling a complex and highly engaging story. In the Bourne series, though, back room intrigue meshes with fast-paced fight sequences, which here are still brutal but somehow feel out of place.
It doesn’t help that the story is more absurd than the other entries, either. Instead of a search for identity, Cross is simply trying to wean himself off of medication while still maintaining the abilities they give him. It feels more like a sci-fi movie than a spy thriller. There wouldn’t be anything wrong with that if it weren’t trying so hard to be like the other movies, which it is. Renner is a different character than Bourne, a low IQ man who used the Army as a way out and ended up in the experimental program.
Instead of being turned into a super hero, though, Cross became smarter, faster, stronger and less interesting. He fights his way way through a variety of climates on a variety of continents, which is entertaining enough to watch even though not much feels at stake. Eric Byer (Edward Norton) oversees the many thwarted attempts to take him down, and even he seems bored half of the time. Without a discernible, menacing villain, the faceless enemies Cross dispatches remain nobodies, and he kind of does too.