The rousing fourth instalment of the Bourne movie series looks forward to continuing the tenacious trend following the excitable exploits of one of cinema’s favourite amnesiac super spies. Also, the catchy film titles in this espionage franchise seemingly roll off the tongue: The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Bourne Supremacy and now The Bourne Legacy. The question remains: can this Legacy sustain the momentum of conflicted sensational super spy Jason Bourne without compromising any of this previous action-packed powerhouse’s sizzling impact?
In many ways The Bourne Legacy is the transitional measuring stick for the frenetic franchise courtesy of the different faces taking over the old guard. Out for good is original Bourne bad boy Matt Damon as well as director Paul Greengrass (“United 93”) who directed the previous two Bourne flicks. In comes former Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner (“The Hurt Locker”, “The Town”) as well as writer-director Tony Gilroy (“Michael Clayton”, “Duplicity”) to fulfil the newest chapter in the blistering Bourne action-adventures.
Gilroy, who also had been the head writer for the prior Bourne actioners, impishly conspires to add more verve and vitality in Legacy that now boasts the boisterous antics of Renner’s heroic Aaron Cross, a dark-ops agent now assuming the harried lead in the hyperactive spectacle where Damon’s Jason Bourne left off. Thankfully, the brutality and colourful carnage is effectively orchestrated and delivered in Legacy that supports the dazzling charge of the entire Bourne affair.
Although at times The Bourne Legacy seems like filler where new characters are exhibiting the familiar operative frenzy in reused plot lines, the film still percolates nevertheless. It is a mixed bag in terms of whether ardent Bourne fans will accept the similar blueprint of debriefing ribaldry as refreshingly challenging or a mere regurgitation of the Robert Ludlum trilogy. Still, one cannot go wrong with the resourceful Renner at the helm. Plus, the film does find imaginative ways to promote the sense of urgency and paranoia that is desperately important in the American spy genre. Overall, it does its job as an intriguing chase thriller.
Somehow, the “super-soldier” spy program is out of whack and the itchy governmental operatives are worried about the security breaches and other deficiencies plaguing the top-secret program. The paranoia is so steep that drastic measures are taken to exterminate the bioengineered spies. Naturally, eradicating the skilled agents in the wake of shutting down the super-soldier spy program obviously does not sit right with one determined rabble-rouser in the spy program’s top notch poster wonder man Aaron Cross (Renner).
Naturally, Cross uses his super-soldier agent instincts to avoid his demise as he furiously ducks and dodges the menacing efforts of the cynical governmental nuisances to silence him. Cross joins forces with Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz, “Agora”, “360”), a bookworm scientist credited with making Cross and his fellow super spies as incredible, resilient specimens. Cross, without a doubt, needs Dr. Shearing in more ways than one for survival purposes.
It goes without saying that The Bourne Legacy does not deviate from its pulsating premise—that is, it faithfully pours on the popcorn elements of a topsy-turvy potboiler highlighted by fanciful gunplay, animated running/jumping/climbing, hand-to-hand combat and a signature motorcycle chase scene in Manila to top off the overactive theatrics. Some may gravitate to the allure of techno-computer jargon and the obligatory spy code names that are tossed about randomly.
True, there is not really a padded storyline that cements The Bourne Legacy substantially other than its acrobatic twitchiness and the intensity of Renner’s jeopardized hero on the fringe of elimination. Still, the film does manage to exude the confidence of a thumping thriller even if this fourth edition is fuelled by the reputation of its predecessors’ smart and surging covert-induced spryness.
Both Renner and Weisz make for a pleasing and suspenseful tandem facing the scrutiny of the pesky authorities yearning to squash them and their super-soldiering “know-how”. Renner’s high-wired energy feels authentically grizzled and combative in comparison to Damon’s more sophisticated and structured turn as the renegade spy running amok. Edward Norton, always the adventurous actor, is another newcomer to this rollicking espionage movie series as one of the bothersome government figureheads wanting a piece of Aaron Cross’s endangered head.
In essence, Legacy is a continued amusement ride for Bourne-again fanatics looking to further the Ludlum landscape pertaining to the chronicles of governmental scepticism with an on-the-lam problematic protagonist as its walking time bomb product.
The Bourne Legacy (Universal Pictures)
2 hrs. 15 mins.
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weitz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach, Donna Murphy
Directed by: Tony Gilroy
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre: Action Adventure/Espionage Thriller
Critic’s rating: ** ½ stars (out of 4 stars)