I love the Bourne trilogy. It’s one of the best trilogies out there, though that’s not really saying a lot; every film is extremely solid. The first is interesting, entertaining, and even has some heart to it. The second loses the heart, but makes up for it with a lot more energy in the direction and editing. The same can be said of the third film. They all add up to one solid trilogy, with strong writing, strong direction, and a strong cast. The Bourne Legacy, the fourth part in the series, aims to revamp the series with a new director, new composer, and most importantly, a new main character.
The beginning of the film got me excited, it opened with a similar shot to the opening of The Bourne Identity, so right away the film had me as a fan of the series. It lost me just as quickly. The main problem with The Bourne Legacy is a lack of energy. While the original films had their slow moments as well, they didn’t feel as slow. There was clearly a lot of energy put in by the crew to make every scene feel fast paced and intense. This was true whether it was an action scene, or a group of government agents talking about convoluted spy movie stuff. Therefore, the movies felt action-packed, even though they really weren’t. This movie feels slow. It feels like it’s just a group of people talking. Even the action scenes, which you would think you couldn’t possibly mess up, are dull, overlong, and uninspired.
The cast is easily the highlight of the film. Jeremy Renner replaces Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne with Aaron Cross, a subject from a similar program to the one Bourne was a part of. Renner plays the character with his usual charisma, making Cross a slightly more likeable character next to the cold, efficient Bourne. Rachel Weisz does a great job as the love interest of the film; she sells a lot of the more intense scenes in the film, and is also a very likeable character. The rest of the cast is solid. Edward Norton doesn’t exactly give it his all, but he does about as good as you’d expect from him. Most of the other characters are fairly forgettable, apart from the short cameo appearances from a few characters from the last movies.
The plot of the film is…..well it’s exactly what you’d expect from a Bourne movie, the government wants Cross killed, he goes on the run, teams up with Weisz’s character, the government sends an assassin after them eventually, it’s all really really formulaic at this point. There is at least one short strench of the film that was very exciting and intense. Unfortunately, it lasts for about 15 minutes then it’s back to normal. One of the big problems the film has is pacing. The first act lasts way too long, and nothing really seemingly happens until a good 30-45 minutes into the film. Maybe it just felt that long. Then the second act finally starts, and it also takes way too long, then there’s the standard Bourne chase scene which lasts way, way too long and like the rest of the movie is dull, flat, and boring. The movie ends. Nothing really feels resolved at the end. It feels like they lost the last act of the film in a fire and then decided to just extend the rest of the film and call it a day. The film at least ends on a high note by remembering to end with Bourne’s theme song Extreme ways.
Overall, The Bourne Legacy is a dull and lifeless film, that forgets to have the heart of the first film, or the energy of the second and third. It tries to excite fans by referencing events, characters, or camera shots from the first three films, but ultimately feels like nothing but a shallow immitator of the real thing.