If a man fights off a hungry wolf with his bare hands in a movie, is there any possible way that movie could be boring? Before this, I would have voiced a strong “Hell no!,” but today I am a changed person. I have seen “The Bourne Legacy” and have consequently lost all faith in badassery.
The fourth film in the Jason Bourne franchise stars Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross, a genetically-enhanced agent running for his life as a secret government agency seeks to destroy him. The storyline in this film, directed by Tony Gilroy, is incredibly confusing and makes almost no sense unless you happen to remember every single detail from the first three films. From what I can gather, Matt Damon, who does not appear in this film, goes rogue in “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007) and causes enough trouble to make Eric Byer (Edward Norton), director of the National Research Assay Group, decide to shut down all programs involving behaviorally- and intellectually-enhanced soldiers. The targeted Outcome agents are all hooked on green pills to make them faster and stronger and blue pills to make them smarter. Most of them are wiped out when the blues and greens are swapped for the poisonous yellows, but not Cross! He is out in Alaska on a solo training mission, beating up wolves and shooting down drones.
Once Cross discovers what is happening with the pills, he saves and kidnaps scientist Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) and takes her to a top secret lab in Manila where she can cook him up something to end his dependency on the blue pills. The physical effects of the green pills have already become permanent, but a lack of blue pills could cause Cross to lose his mind. Luckily, Dr. Shearing uses science to save the day and secure her spot as leading lady! Once recovered, Cross has fisticuffs in a cramped alleyway, parkours across some rooftops, and has a sweaty flashback that explains how he became an Outcome agent.
Meanwhile, Director Byer is still trying to track down and kill Cross and anyone else connected to his super spy programs. It’s time to call in Larx, a secret agent neurologically programmed to be void of any emotion. The whole point is to get rid of all these spies, but alright, Byer, go ahead and send in Larx because at this point the plotline is so muddled that all coherency is already lost. What follows is an adrenaline pumping car/motorcycle chase through the cramped streets of Manila. Larx catapults into a fruit stand only to get back on his bike, of which he is then kicked off by Dr. Shearing, earning him the prestigious title of Lamest Baddie Ever.
Even with high intensity fights and car crashes, the latest installment in the Bourne series fails miserably to engage. Dialogue accounts for the majority of the film’s running time, and most of it does not make any sense. Byer’s reasons for shutting down the special programs remain incredibly unclear and the loose ends in the beginning of the film are never tied together, creating a frustrating and unfulfilling viewing experience. Ultimately, there is just too much talk and not enough action. Shots of Renner scaling buildings and delivering punches provide the only excitement in the film but are lost among scene after scene of men in suits arguing in government offices.
Matt Damon’s character, Jason Bourne, is briefly mentioned several times but without much explanation. This film has very little to do with its predecessors besides the title and any continuity between “Legacy” and the other films feels forced. It seems as though the studio was so intent on milking the cash cow that is the Bourne franchise that they settled for vague tie-ins just to keep “Bourne” in the title.