This movie has the wrong title.
The Bourne Legacy is a misconstrued mess, an absolute miscalculation and train wreck of a film that it has no business being made into a movie in the first place. I hated this idea months before this was released, and I hate it even more now after having seen it. Who, in their right minds, thought it was a good idea to make a Bourne movie without Jason Bourne??? That was my biggest concern going into the movie. Believe me though, fellow moviegoers: that is the least of your worries.
Taking place shortly after the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, The Bourne Legacy shows the repercussions of Bourne’s actions, how it affects Treadstone, and what marks it leaves on the people involved. Erik Byer (Edward Norton) is a government official who was directly involved with the affairs of Treadstone during its days of operation. Shortly after Jason Bourne escapes their custody, however, Byer believes that all of the agents now are a potential threat to the government, and is convinced that he needs to shut the project down in order to protect themselves. By “shut the project down”, I really mean kill all of the agents in the field.
One of these agents is Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), an experienced field agent who is carrying out a mission in Alaska for Treadstone when the order was released. While taking refuge in a wooden cabin with another fellow agent out in Alaska, they are suddenly attacked by robot jets, and Cross barely escapes with his life intact. Surviving only because of the medication he is on (Treadstone agents are required to take two pills, a blue one for physical boosting, and a green one for mental boosting), Cross looked into his stash to realize that he only has a couple days worth of medication left. Now low on food, supplies, and ammunition, Cross must now find a way to get back to America and survive against Treadstone long enough to find a way to counterattack their onslaught.
Let me start with the most obvious flaw here: Tony Gilroy. Looking at his filmography, you would think he would be the best man for the job here. He was credited as co-writer for the three previous Bourne movies, he wrote and directed the Oscar-winning drama-thriller Michael Clayton as well as the 2008 caper film Duplicity. I enjoyed all of those movies, and thinking that this one would be the same, made the mistake of thinking that it would be just as good.
Trust me, this couldn’t be any more of a dissapointment. Everything wrong with this movie has everything to do with Gilroy’s script and direction, which couldn’t be more forced, erratic, confusing, and half-lapsed than this.
The problems start with the premise: a Jason Bourne movie without Jason Bourne is a bad enough idea. But let’s take a step back here and try to be open with this. Let’s just say, for facetious effort, that Aaron Cross’ story is just as fascinating and compelling as Bourne’s is. What are the conflicts? In his first three movies, Jason Bourne’s struggle was against his morality, identity, and the confronting of his past. What is Cross’ magnificent, epic struggle? Survival by trying to find a green pill. If this movie dwelved any more into the conflict than it did, I would have said Cross was a junkie.
“Funny”, I think. “I don’t remember these pills being used in the original trilogy”. Correction: I vaguely remember them. In a brief flashback sequence in The Bourne Ultimatum, I remember Jason Bourne taking a blue and green pill during his initiation into Treadstone (this memory is hazy though). Bourne obviously didn’t need to take the pills further because his body adapted to the drugs. Here, Cross is dependent on the drugs like a junkie is on cocaine, and if he doesn’t get his daily dose of the green pill, he’ll apparently revert to the level of intelligence of Forest Gump, according to him.
Okay, that’s fine. Jason Bourne isn’t in the movie, check. Super pills gives Cross super powers, check. I would be able to buy the premise and its characters if A) it were handled well, or B) it was anywhere near as smart, interesting, or even remotely readable as it was to The Bourne Identity. Here, instead of intelligence we get confusion, instead of cleverness we get forced easter eggs to earlier movies, and instead of interest we get on-the-nose, ham-fisted writing. The editing in this film is choppy, leaping all over the place, jumping from one timeline to another, one flashback to the next, and it becomes so repetitive and convoluted throughout the picture that by halfway through I stopped caring about it.
Oh, I don’t deny Jeremy Renner is a knockout in this role. Neither do I deny the talents of Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, and especially not Joan Allen or Albert Finney. All of the performances are great, but the story is a complete wreck, and Gilroy clearly has no idea how to handle his premise or the cast he’s been given for this. What more proof do you need, besides this convoluted script, an uninteresting story, and a tedious chase sequence at the end with a sharply abrupt cliffhanger?
This is exactly the reason why I hate sequels. When done well, like the original Bourne trilogy, they are compelling, brilliant expansions furthering the story set up by the first one. When done like this however, they are nothing but forced, awkward, nonsensical garbage.
Again, I ask this: why did this movie have to get made? The Bourne Legacy is exactly what you expect it to be, a Bourne movie without Jason Bourne, equally without the compelling character drama or real conflict in it. And now they’re talking about a possible sequel to this mess. Only if Jason comes back and kills Aaron Cross. That’s the only way they can redeem themselves at this point.