Taking the title but little else from the Ludlum novel, "Legacy" opens playfully as "Ultimatum" ended: with a body floating in the water. But it isn't Jason Bourne, it's Mr. Renner's Aaron Cross on a training mission in an icy wilderness. The film's opening scenes take place in parallel with the events of "Ultimatum" via the well-crafted script by director Tony Gilroy (who wrote or co-wrote all the previous films) and brother Dan Gilroy.
Aaron stumbles upon a mysterious colleague in the forest (Oscar Isaac) and we learn that they are part of a government genetic-enhancement project similar to the one that created Jason Bourne. And if you don't know your Treadstones from your Blackbriars, well, that's okay (but get ready for Outcome, and don't get me started on Larx). The two soldiers develop an uneasy trust moments before it becomes clear they're being targeted for termination.
And here's where the film's true agenda - and Bourne's true legacy - becomes clear. With the actions of the previous trilogy threatening to expose the whole shebang, the government - represented by Stacy Keach's malevolent Adm. Turso - decides to wipe out all the operatives. As you might expect, that doesn't go as planned, and it creates a nice excuse for the extended chase scene that is, essentially, the remainder of the film.
We get a bit too much of a glimpse into the inner-workings of the genetics project which, it turns out, relies heavily on pills (or "chems" as they're repeatedly called here). With Aaron's supply running out, he seeks out a scientist, and fellow target, played in a nicely understated turn by Rachel Weisz. The two spend most of the film on the run, pursued by a bunch of government keyboard-jockeys goosed by Col. Byer (Edward Norton, barking orders with a what-am-I-doing-here? scowl). They end up in the Philippines which, in a post-9/11 world, makes for a pretty uninteresting travel sequence (it involves a lot of unbelievable fake-ID-making and tense moments in customs).
Mr. Gilroy is right at home during the taut opening exposition but he flounders during the crucial white-knuckle action sequences which have become a trademark of the franchise. Previous director Paul Greengrass' hand (and hand-held) is particularly missed during the bravura climactic chase through and above Manilla.
But remember, 2002's "The Bourne Identity" (directed by Doug Liman) was a quieter film than the two sequels and, if this is Mr. Gilroy's way of introducing a new franchise helmed by a new star, then his shortcomings can be forgiven. He's building new characters with this film, and he succeeds. So much so that you might like to see these characters "Bourne" again.
|Movie title||The Bourne Legacy|
|Summary||Matt who? Jeremy Renner finally gets his due in this well-crafted and entirely satisfying entry in the sturdy spy franchise.|