REVIEW | New Bourne movie is entertaining, but underwhelms

A Bourne movie without Matt Damon?

Or, more importantly, a Bourne movie without Jason Bourne?

“The Bourne Legacy” had big shoes to fill when Universal Pictures announced the fourth installment of the Bourne series. The tagline “There was never just one” is a good way to whet the fans’ appetite, but could the legacy of Damon’s Bourne be replaced?

Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is the new Jason Bourne in this film, and Cross’s employers, namely the CIA, are trying to kill him.

Cross, after surviving an assassination attempt, tracks down CIA employee Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) to find more of the government’s mystery pills he takes daily. Apparently, green pills make him stronger and blue ones make him smarter. Man, I wish I could get my hands on some of that stuff.

At the crux of the plot lies the downside: Without the pills, Cross dies.

“Legacy” actually takes place while “The Bourne Ultimatum” is happening and shows the collateral damage caused by Jason Bourne.

In fact, one of the main strengths of the film is that Jason Bourne is at the heart of everything. If Bourne fans hated to see a movie made without him, they can take comfort in knowing that director Tony Gilroy did a good job of keeping Bourne present while still telling Cross’s story.

Another strength is that Renner and Weisz have great on-screen chemistry. They and Edward Norton — who plays Eric Byer (the CIA official leading the hunt for Cross) — each put on an excellent display of acting, without which the movie would probably suffer.

Gilroy stayed true to the style of previous Bourne movies: exotic locations, quick camera movements and constant close-ups to heighten the anxiety, rapid scene switches and threads of the Bourne theme song.

In fact, even the plots were similar.

Bourne and Cross are the only ones left in their respective programs, Treadstone and Outcome; they both resist CIA attempts to kill them; they both think for themselves and ask the “why” questions.

The originality of the first three films, coming from Bourne’s constant struggle to regain his memory, is lost in “Legacy.” The plot of this film does not make up for it.

The pill-based plot seems like it could be from a superhero movie rather than the Bourne franchise, since a scientific experiment turns the Outcome agents into special fighters. This sounds awfully similar to the stories of Captain America, Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk.

A scientifically enhanced Cross is much less interesting than Bourne’s character, who used only his guns, fists and reflexes.

Cross turns out to be a likable character, though, winning the audience over with his humor and humanity.

Cross’s humor came across well, but Bourne seemed a little more realistic. After all, these movies are mainly about violent agents who have lost some of their humanity by doing the things they do.

“Legacy” jumps frequently from one place to another, but the disruptions do not become boring or tiresome.  The end chase scene drags a little, but a drawn-out chase scene can be expected in any movie in the genre of Bourne, Bond and Die Hard.

At the end, there were too many questions left unanswered. What happened to Cross before Outcome? Why was he still taking the green pills? What will happen with Pam Landy? And, of course, where is Jason Bourne?

“The Bourne Legacy” has a stimulating plot with well-thought-out characters. Although the film may not be as good as the first three and leaves many unanswered questions, it definitely has worthy action scenes and dialogue to please the Bourne fans out there.


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