Let me start by saying how painful I find this. I am a HUGE fan of the Bourne films (well, certainly Supremacy & Ultimatum, which to me are two of the best action films ever made). The Bourne Legacy is not by any means a bad film. But it cheapens the rest of the series. It is unnecessary. It is irrelevant. It is the raisin in an otherwise amazing triple chocolate brownie.
Bless poor Jeremy Renner. I have never really been an admirer of his work myself but that could be due to lack of vehicle (yes I’m saying it, I didn’t like The Hurt Locker and he was by far the most insignificant Avenger). But having said that, I find he does miss that certain something that makes me think ‘now THERE’S a leading man.’ There is nothing wrong with his performance as Aaron Cross – he is believable and steady. My problem is that there just shouldn’t be an Aaron Cross.
I would say something similar about Rachel Weisz but I’m afraid I liked her in this even less. Her accent wasn’t convincing and her character existed only as pure eye candy. I really couldn’t care less if Dr. Marta Shearing lived or died – the first of any of the strong female characters in the Bourne series (including Franka Potente, Julia Stiles and Joan Allen who are all stellar in their Bourne roles).
As for Edward Norton, a phenomenal actor by anyone’s standards, there just isn’t enough of a bad guy in Colonel Eric Byer to make you feel like Cross is ever in any sort of real danger. I get that he’s meant to have some history with Cross and you are meant to feel some empathy with the situation he finds himself in but you really, really don’t. The flashback montages feel forced and a bit pointless. Unfortunately for Norton, his character just prevents him from being the colossal force that David Straitharn was in Ultimatum. Neither does he have the menace of Albert Finney. But again, this is really not through any fault of his own – the character just shouldn’t be.
I could go into the detail of how the making of the action sequences just didn’t have the same pop as those by Paul Greengrass (the Manila chase scene just screams second rate Tangiers) but that also seems irrelevant. The issue with this film is that there is no reason for it to exist. This film needed to make you care that there were other agents out in the world during The Bourne Ultimatum but it doesn’t. Where is the struggle? What are the stakes? Where everything Jason Bourne goes through shows blood, sweat and tears, Aaron Cross’ escape to Manila and subsequent search for ‘chems’ seems to happen far too easily. And don’t even get me started on the “Treadstone without the inconsistency” agent – he went down so easy I almost think I could have taken him.
All in all, The Bourne Legacy is an okay movie. But when you sit it next to The Bourne Ultimatum, it really pales into insignificance.