The problem with attending screenings for action film franchises like the Bourne movies is that you inevitably end up sitting in a theater full of nerds. These are the people that actually believe that they are cool for seeing movies like The Bourne Legacy 4 days before the rest of the world. While I obviously don’t fit that description, I can’t deny that I was excited to see the continuation of one of the most cerebral and exciting action series ever. So I ignored the nerd next to me who tried to talk to me about the next James Bond movie, and prepared myself for shaky cameras and action badassery.
The Bourne Legacy, much like its predecessors: it throws you right into the action at the start and doesn’t let up. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is a participant in a cutting edge genetic altering government program called “Outcome” (Blackbriar and Treadstone were just the tip of the iceberg). The program drugs Cross takes make him stronger and smarter than regular old genetic material could ever hope to make him. But when Outcome’s director, played by a gray-haired Edward Norton, is ordered to clean house and wipe out all of his agents, Aaron Cross realizes he is merely an ant scrambling out from under the government’s boot.
It’s a good thing that Jeremy Renner was cast as this new Bourne wannabe. In my mind, the dude can do no wrong. He’s cool, but not too cool, he’s tough and not too good looking. Ever since The Hurt Locker, I get excited about anything Renner does. As unbelievable as The Bourne Legacy is at times, Renner’s role as the disenfranchised, secret-agent, super-human guy with an attitude, is fun to watch. There is a rebellious and snarky attitude to Renner that made me like Aaron Cross and accept that he is the only one of his comrades who figures out that the government is trying to kill them. Of course he can’t evade the all powerful US gov on his own. Luckily there’s a sexy, super-smart bio chemist who is also under threat of death and has just what Cross needs to make his great escape. (What? Nooooo, I’m not being sarcastic…)
Marta (Rachel Weisz) plays that sexy, super smart bio chemist. She has been kept in the dark about what exactly Outcome is, but as a member of the medical team, she has intimate knowledge about the drugs being used to create the super soldiers. When it comes time for Outcome to be cleaned up, it’s not only the Agents that have to be erased. After narrowly escaping death, Marta finds herself caught up with Cross, who promises to help her stay alive if she will user her bio chem knowledge to keep him super strong and super smar. The two strike out together, outsmarting and outfighting all sorts of government goons.
Rachel Weisz has always intrigued me as an actress. She’s quite attractive, but not flashy or overly sexy–she has a maturity to her look and style that makes me feel that there is more to her than meets the eye. I hoped that having a subtle actress in this new Bourne movie meant that it would be more than just another action thriller. I was wrong. In fact, Weisz acted in an amazingly generic way as that girl who needs a tough guy to come save her…blah blah blah. Don’t get me wrong, she did a great job, it’s just that the role was so bland and trite that she was completely forgettable.
But who cares, I’m not watching The Bourne Legacy for the chick! I want to find out what secrets the CIA is still keeping about Jason Bourne. Well, here’s where it get’s really disappointing. There is literally no new info about my favorite renegade military super weapon. There are mentions of Jason Bourne, and even a reference to him appearing in New York City which leads to the massive government, secret program clean-up, (See The Bourne Ultimatum) but beyond that, nothing that adds anything to Aaron Cross’ story. Therefore, The Bourne Legacy is merely an excuse to keep the franchise going.
The real problem with The Bourne Legacy is not that it’s bad, or unentertaining. It is a thrilling ride full of cool action and intense chases; most viewers will leave the theater feeling like they got just what they paid for: an action movie. I, however, left feeling like the producers took my intelligence for granted. The first three Bourne films were so smart, as well as thrilling, that The Bourne Legacy feels watered down with a bunch of action fluff thrown in as a distraction. I take offense to that and therefore left the theater feeling a little insulted.
Be glad that The Bourne Legacy didn’t make it worse by pointless graphic content. This film is about as clean as an action movie can be with minimal language, absolutely no sexual content and tons of action without the gore. It’s about as safe as PG-13 gets.