The first question everyone asks about this movie is “Can a Bourne film work without Matt Damon?” Well, the answer is yes. The Avengers Jeremy Renner really isn’t the issue with this film and does a decent enough shift. The blame for the failings of The Bourne Legacy goes to screenwriters Tony and Dan Gilroy (who also wrote the original trilogy).
Instead of the little boy lost Jason Bourne we are introduced to Aaron Cross (Renner), a former Iraq veteran part of a Defence Department scheme called Outcame. Essentially a rival to Treadstone, they keep their men alive with a little blue pill. With more than a nod to the plot of The Bourne Supremacy, and with the threat of Bourne selling them out, the director of Outcome (Edward Norton) decides to eliminate all traces by executing the subjects and anybody who’s in on the operation.
Also in on the operation is Doctor Marta (played by Rachel Weisz), who can make him a superhuman assassin without the little pills. Although there are no direct links to Jason Bourne there’s an undercurrent of his activity with Joan Allen and Albert Finney appearing on a boardroom screen, and the Treadstone name hissed in unappreciative voices.
We’re well into the first half an hour of the movie before we realise why we’re here and who these people are. The journey to get to any context seems to take far too long. The idea of genetic mutilation of the Outcome subjects is clever and is something very believable in today’s world, but the long medical speech explaining it all goes a bit too far into detail.
Once the action get going with a fast paced chase it’s brilliant, and wonderfully lacking in CGI, although a bike and a Manilla street is slightly reminiscent of Bond’s Tomorrow Never Dies. Somewhat ironic as the recent Daniel Craig, Bond movies have taken more than a small amount of their re-boot thunder from the original Bourne movies.
The biggest difference with The Bourne Legacy and Greengrass and Damon’s trilogy is the lack of heart and soul. The characters just aren’t as lovable, and without these traits there’s really no one to root for. To become properly engaged with a movie you have to care if they live or die.
Overall, as a spy thriller the The Bourne Legacy works decently, but those expecting a full-on action movie may be disappointed until the last forty-five minutes.
The Bourne Legacy is out now