Directed by: Tony Gilroy
Written by: Tony Gilroy & Dan Gilroy
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Albert Finney, Joan Allen
At the very least, Jeremy Renner cannot say Hollywood did not try its best to prop him up into a Hollywood star. Not only with this franchise but with others, a film like The Bourne Legacy becomes emblematic of this industry trying to churn out everything it can with intellectual property. Evidently, it hurt this film because it took elements of the previous installments but decided it wanted to make it so much more boring.
After the entire debacle of Treadstone and Blackbriar, the CIA is up to new shenanigans with the Outcome project. This takes participants and forms them into chemically controlled killers for the agency, which takes out the inconsistency of the other two programs. After the imminence of a scandal threatens leadership at the CIA, they try to clean house including one of their most dangerous agents, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner).
The initial Bourne trilogy should not be described as anything nuanced but rather stories that knew what it wanted to achieve and delivered some thrilling sequences along the way. Even with the copied format for all three films, they each had enough fresh material between them to make them exciting. Unfortunately, for The Bourne Legacy, it shows the creatives behind the series attempted to make things a bit more sophisticated, which in turn shows their utter lack of heft in handling these types of stories. It makes for a tenuous viewing experience and has you wishing we were following Jason Bourne rather than this new protagonist.
The narrative takes place concurrently with the events of The Bourne Ultimatum. It ties itself so closely to the other films, which makes you yearn for when the story has anything remotely interesting to do. The inclusion of this new program chemically controlling these agents surely had potential, but I could not care to sit through the exposition dumps of how they work and what will occur if one does not take the right color dosage of this chemical. I give them kudos for attempting to try something new, but the results showed something not worth truly exploring. The fact it had quite the uncharasmitc lead certainly did not help its cause.
As alluded at the beginning of the review, Jeremy Renner had an agent working overtime to try and make him the next big thing in Hollywood. He could not start his own franchise, so they attempted to have him join a pre-existing one and simply take the reins of the operation. It happened in the Mission: Impossible franchise and also with this one. Funnily enough, both franchises ended up sticking with the original lead. You almost have to feel bad for Renner, but he really brings nothing of interest in this role and lacks the charisma needing to be a leading man in Hollywood. He certainly has the acting chops as proven in The Hurt Locker, but he cannot carry a film on his own, much like Matt Damon was able to do as Jason Bourne. Unfortunately, the amazing Rachel Weisz also got wasted in such a thankless role as the woman needing to be constantly saved by Cross. Wasting Rachel Weisz’s time with a role this surface-level and weak should not be allowed, but I guess she might have picked up a nice paycheck to go along with her efforts.
As for the action sequences in the feature, most of it was fine with Renner having the ability to carry those action sequences. There were the signature vehicular chase and gruesome shaky cam for the fight sequences. The direction by longtime Bourne scribe, Tony Gilroy had some strong sequences, which could rival the work done by Paul Greengrass, but it could not fight the uphill battle of the lame script he brought out for the story.
Adding a new fresh set of paint may not always be the answer for a franchise, which has run its natural course in Hollywood. In the case of the Bourne franchise, they attempted to wring out whatever life and fan interest were left and attempted to jumpstart it with Jeremy Renner. Unfortunately, the film failed to deliver anything remotely interesting in-between all of its action sequences and we were mercifully spared from any more sequels with this character and premise.