After the success of the Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne spy thriller films, expectations were high for the ‘reboot’ of the action series based on the Robert Ludlum novels. Unfortunately, it seems like the film creators forgot what made the original Bourne story so fascinating in the first place. Despite “The Bourne Legacy” having a solid cast and some interesting ideas, it is a woefully underdeveloped story and those interesting ideas are never fully explored.
“The Bourne Legacy” follows a new hero, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), who is a sort of descendent of Jason Bourne. Cross is part of the same government super spy program that created Bourne. But because of Bourne’s public exposure, the government decides to ‘terminate’ their program by killing its participants. This sets Cross on a journey for his survival. To save his super strength and brain, he seeks out the help of scientist Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz). Dr. Shearing also finds herself fighting for her life and begrudgingly decides to help Cross as he is her only hope to live.
The movie had the right general plotline for a good reboot, but the first 40 minutes are too bogged down in government scheming, useless dialogue and superfluous shaky camera (someone buy these people a tripod!). For those hoping to come to this film for a fresh take and jump into the story without knowledge of the three other films, stay away. They clunkily try to explain the story of Jason Bourne without ever explaining anything yet still basing the entire plot around Bourne’s actions. This is less of a true rebooted fresh start than it is a sequel begging for its original star to decide to return someday. They really squandered Renner’s potential as they were so hung up on Bourne still. Renner’s Cross is left to flash some smiles and throw some punches and little else of substance. Even Cross’ fight scenes are too sparsely spaced throughout the film. The storyline hints at a potential “Flowers for Algernon” twist, which would have been great to give some actual substantial depth to the Cross character, but it resolves this issue far too quickly. There’s no fun in a film that resolves its hero’s complications far too easily. While the first “Bourne” film kept viewers on the edge of their seats – how can Bourne survive in a world that’s out to get him when he has no memories?! – Cross really has nothing standing in his way. I don’t blame the actors for the film’s shortcomings. The way that Weisz and Cross play off each other is the most fun thing to watch in the film. Their chemistry was surprisingly great, but again they just lacked a fleshed out script that would really allow them shine.
When the film ends, you could say that it is left open for a sequel, but really, it feels open because this film didn’t really have an end. The story just kind of ran out and credits rolled. Perhaps if a sequel is pursued, they’ll forget about Bourne’s shadow and focus on developing Cross. There is potential here, but as it is now, “The Bourne Legacy” fails to thrill.