When the “face” of this franchise, Matt Damon was quoted as saying he wouldn’t return to the series unless it was also directed by the same man behind the camera of the two prior “Bourne” movies, filmmakers and Universal either had to give up the multi-million dollar franchise (yeah, like that was going to happen) or change the face of it. Jason’s legacy was “bourne” with this, the fourth film of the series.
There has been nothing but trouble with the covert programs Treadstone and Blackbriar. Since Jason Bourne went off the grid exposing all of the dirty secrets of the program – secrets that reveal men were trained as assassins, a horrible scandal has rocked the CIA prompting senate hearings and a firestorm of media coverage. There was never just one program participant. Now, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is where Jason Bourne once was – ignorant, but a brush with death is making him re-think everything. His training mission right now is on the mountains of Alaska but he is nearly out of his meds – two pills a day ensure physical capability and a high I.Q. Shortly after meeting with his contact, he watches as a drone missal kills that contact and sends Aaron running. Back in the States, the Black-Ops chief running one of the covert branches, Eric Beyer (Edward Norton) is trying to contain what could be a serious security breach. Back in the day, Beyer knew Aaron – he was a colonel in the military and though he asked one too many questions, Aaron always followed orders… now Beyer just gave the order to have him killed.
Surviving the missal attack, Aaron makes it back to the states, desperation leading him to his doctor from the program, Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz). She just lived through a shooting carried out by a fellow co-worker only to find that there are people gunning for her. Unable to provide the drugs for Aaron, he discovers that he was infected with a viral that would cure him of popping as many pills – now he wants the second set of stems to completely “viral out” of taking the chems. First he and Marta have to find a way to escape the grasp of those wanting to silence them.
Before I get into any rambling rants or gushing (and believe me, there will be equal amounts of both – for every pro, an annoying ‘but’ won’t be far behind), I just want to make one thing clear: I did enjoy this movie tremendously. When first reading about this addition to what has been a phenomenal franchise, I was skeptical about a lot of things. (I will try my hardest not to make too many comparisons to the original films either.) After seeing it (on the first week, no less!), I feel both validated in that supposition, and taken by surprise. Here is why.
Series scripter, Tony Gilroy brought Robert Ludlum’s novels to the screen with his adaptations and he returns to write and direct this, the first where he was behind the camera. Unfortunately, I find myself now, having reflected on the film, agreeing more than I wanted too with the mainstream critic from PEOPLE. The story takes way too long to get things rolling, making us feel more bored than we should by such a story – it is one that is meant to be adrenaline-pumping and exciting. Even as it vacillates between Aaron wandering around the snow-packed Alaskan mountains and the "suits," there isn’t the usual excitement in the opening thirty to forty minutes; even the spy jargon they spout seems dull. It isn’t until someone dies (regrettably so), that things start happening – and get interesting! Once this happens, there is no stopping anticipation. Aaron wrestles with a grey wolf, steals a plane and makes it to Marta’s all in the space of time that it took for us to watch him endlessly traipse through mountain passages. The first scene that really entices edge-of-your-seat chills is at Marta’s country house where there is the appropriate amount of fear and danger as she cowers in the corner, assuming her death is near. It was a section of the movie that allowed Weisz to show off some great theatrics as her fear overtakes any logic she would normally possess.
When the casting news first broke, I wasn’t certain someone else could ever fill Damon’s shoes. Subsequently, I saw Renner in MI:4 and The Avengers, both of which were phenomenal roles for him. Though I suspect it is my bias for Damon, this role wasn’t always “right” for Renner. Does he do it justice? Absolutely! But there is something “missing” from his portrayal that leaves us teetering on the edge, void of emotion. On the flip side, Weisz was fantastic – she played a great female lead against Renner and in fact has to save him on more than one occasion. Leading up to its release date, rumors were everywhere that the fifth film would star both Renner and Matt Damon reprising their roles. That has since been rebuked. *sniff* Some people may not like this story purely for moral reasons. The picture it paints of our government and how they treat the men they recruit to defend America is a wonderfully well conceived idea for a political thriller at best and at worst, it is enough to shake up our already fragile opinion of government. In recommending this, I have to suggest that you try and watch it as an individual piece of the “Bourne” puzzle and not a sequel because for me, it fell short. Certain sequences are phenomenal and it was a switch for the heroine to protect the hero but too much of it feels familiar, including a woman tagging along and having to escape fellow assassins. By the time credits rolled, my opinion had improved and I thought the ending was adorable without being anything special. Though not as impressive as it should have been, ‘Legacy’ is a solid start in this new era and I don't regret the admission price. Still... an argument could be made that Renner was way cooler as Hawkeye. *wink*
What did you think of this film as a part of the legacy? Do you have expectations of it? Fill up the comments below with any thoughts!
(Rated PG13: Several scenes depict sometimes brutal hand-to-hand combat resulting in some severe injuries. The “suits” of the operation give orders to have operatives taken out; a man murders 5 of his co-workers before committing suicide. There are probably three “intense” sequences, one of which is a car chase. About four people die from the pills they are given. Commonplace profanity such as sh*t, d*mn and abuse of deity like GD are heard.)