I’m a big fan of the original Bourne trilogy, though by the third I felt they were treading pretty familiar ground. So how is The Bourne Legacy, the Bourne movie without Bourne? Two reviews follow, one short and concise, the other a muddled meandering mishmash of something beginning with M.
Here’s the first:
In attempting to launch a new chapter of the Bourne franchise, The Bourne Legacy sticks too closely to the beats of the original trilogy to feel fresh or new. Shaky-cam fights, rooftop and busy-street chases, and government data-mining scenes have been all been done before, and done better. The best part of this film is Rachel Weisz’s performance, which is fantastic, but Jeremy Renner, as the replacement for Matt Damon, elicits little sympathy or interest.
The second review below. Spoilers follow for all four Bourne movies, so don’t read unless you are planning to lose your memory and travel through the most recognizable cities in Europe to unravel the mystery of your past and then watch all the Bourne movies.
Before we talk about this movie, can we talk about the tagline of this movie?
The Bourne Legacy: “There was never just one.”
So, is this one referring to the number of super secret black ops agents, like Jason Bourne? Uh, yeah, we know, there were way more than one. In The Bourne Identity, there was Bourne, and three other “assets”, two of whom Bourne killed, and one who killed Chris Cooper and then was never seen again. In The Bourne Supremacy, there was one more, who Bourne visited, strangled, and blew up his apartment with a magazine-toaster bomb (and who also told Bourne “We’re the only two left.”) THEN, in The Bourne Ultimatum, there’s another one in Tangier who Bourne kills and yet another one who chases Bourne around and then decides not to shoot him on a rooftop in New York. So, by my count, going into The Bourne Legacy, there were seven. Instead of “There was never just one,” the tagline should really read:
“There was never just seven.
Or should it be were?
It should be were.
There were never just seven.
Or should it be: There never were just seven?
I dunno, they both sound kind of awkward now.”
That’s a very long tagline for a poster, but it’s more accurate.
Anyway! Let’s leave the first three Bourne movies behind and get to The Bourne Legacy, only we can’t, because the first thirty minutes of The Bourne Legacy are sort of a recap of the first three Bourne movies, detailing Treadstone, which was the government torture program that created Bourne, then Blackbriar, that program that took over Treadstone, and now there’s Outcome, which is a program like the other two only they use operatives who have been physically and mentally enhanced by “chems” (drugs). Now that Bourne has shed public light on Treadstone and Blackbriar, Edward Norton is worried that Outcome might also get revealed to the public so he decides to kill all of the agents involved in the project and all of the pharmacists who make the drugs, because there’s nothing less suspicious than a bunch of dead bodies all over the place to convince the public that Nothing Suspicious Is Going On.
After killing his covert super-agents, Edward Norton sends a drone to Alaska to kill Jeremy Renner, who manages to escape by having a wolf killed in his place, but it was a mean wolf, so it’s okay. Renner goes to find Rachel Weisz, who is a doctor he knows from the drug-making company where he gets his drugs and he wants more drugs, because they make him smart. Edward Norton controls the mind (with drugs) of one of the chemists in the science lab, and makes him kill everyone else, though Weisz escapes. So, the drugs make people smarter, and stronger, and also magically control people’s minds somehow, sometimes. The drugs in this movie are sort of like the black goo from Prometheus, they do whatever the writers need it to do in a given scene.
Renner saves Weisz from another attempt by Edward Norton to kill her, and they go to Manilla so she can inject Renner with a permanent dose of brain drugs that will mean he no longer has to take brain drugs. Meanwhile, Edward Norton tries to track them down like they do in the other movies: by sitting in a room with a bunch of computer monitors and saying things like “GET ME THAT FOOTAGE FROM THE AIRPORT” and “COME ON PEOPLE” and “PUT THAT ON MY SCREEN.” And everyone types things into computers really fast. Edward Norton finds out where they are, and decides to activate yet another agent from yet another goddamn super secret assassin agent program he also has, called Larx.
Seriously, enough. You have had four different secret killer assassin programs. The first one failed and got everyone killed, and the second one failed and got everyone killed and indicted, and the third one got everyone killed with poison and drone strikes. Do you really think the fourth one is going to work out? As far as I know, the only super soldier program that was ever any good was the one that created Captain America, and every single other one has been a complete disaster. If you need soldiers JUST CALL THE ARMY. THEY HAVE A BUNCH OF GOOD ONES.
SO! Time for a chase scene, right? Jeremy Renner jumps on a motorcycle that someone has left running and the Larx guy jumps in a police car that someone left unattended and then the Larx guy gets on a motorcycle too and then he gets on yet another motorcycle for some reason, and there’s a long chase through busy streets, and then the movie is over, and we’re like, wait, was THAT the climax of the movie? That felt like the Act Two action sequence, the one that would lead up to the big final action sequence, but I think that’s because Act One was the Bourne Trilogy recap and so Act Two, The Jeremy Renner Needs Drugs Story, felt like it was actually Act One, which meant Act Three, Let’s All Easily Steal 100 Motorcycles, felt like Act Two, so the movie felt like it had no Act Three.
Also, it turns out that the information Bourne gave to the public didn’t work and all the evil government people are fine and the only one in trouble is Joan Allen, the nice government person from the other movies, so there was no reason for Edward Norton to kill everyone anyway, so, um, good job, and why don’t you just get started on the inevitable fifth secret government assassin program, because I’m sure it will work out great.