The Bourne Legacy Review

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Bourne series of films. Sure, they’re fun movies to watch, and the action scenes are pretty great, but they’ve never been very substantial in my opinion. The plots have never been known for their complexity, and unsurprising The Bourne Legacy is no exception. Similarly, this new addition to the franchise provides several visually satisfying action sequences, but not enough to offset the lack of a substantial plot and generally uninteresting political conversations that dominate the film.

When rouge government operative Jason Bourne appears in New York and threatens to expose information about the secret Treadstone Project, Eric Byer (Edward Norton) decides to dissolve the program and dispose of everyone involved. Enter Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), a highly trained agent similar to Jason Bourne, who is trying desperately to avoid dying at the hand of the US government. In case you are wondering, yes, I have just given away the entire plot of this film. Not very complicated, even by action movie standards.

While I do feel a little ambivalent about much of this film, things really seem to pick up when Jeremy Renner is on screen. Not only is the movie actually interesting when the audience is following his character, but Renner is surprisingly good as the new Bourne action star. Although he was great in both The Town and The Hurt Locker, after seeing his fairly bland performance The Avengers I had my doubts about Renner as a mainstream action star, especially one who was positioned to replace Matt Damon who did such a great job in previous Bourne films. I would argue that Renner ended up doing just as well as Damon in The Bourne Legacy, and actually would be interested in seeing him reprise his role in a later film if they choose to make one.

While Renner does do a great job as a sort of cookie-cutter action hero, there is one interesting twist that separates Aaron Cross from similar characters. Cross is effectively a drug addict, depending on special multi-colored pills that keep him at peak physical and mental performance. At times the pills do seem like an obvious plot device, meant to send the hero to one place or another in search of the drugs he needs to fight off government agents in spectacular fashion, but I quite enjoyed this simple addition to the premise. Other then that, this seemed to follow a formula that is very similar to the previous films, even shoehorning in a female character he was protecting, a dynamic that is just about the same is the one in earlier Bourne movies.

The last thing I wanted to mention this is probably not a movie you should take young kids to. There is one scene in particular, where a bunch of civilians are methodically killed that is fairly disturbing, and that I thought was a little out of place in this movie. I would be interested to know what you guys thought if you have seen this movie, so feel free to leave some comments down below.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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16 thoughts on “The Bourne Legacy Review

  1. Steve August 18, 2012 / 5:44 pm

    I just saw this one (didn’t see the earlier films due to lack of interest) and I agree 100%. Fun but shallow and ultimately empty. But very suspenseful action and good enough to pass a couple hours on a long summer evening. Seems there’s room for more plot and conspiracy intrigue, but I guess that would just slow down the action.

    • Andrew King August 18, 2012 / 6:12 pm

      I would say that this one was probably the worst of all of them, but still have a few good action scenes that may be worth checking out.

  2. Tommy D August 19, 2012 / 12:21 am

    I, like you, am not a huge fan of the Bourne films either. I think they’re pretty overrated. However, the casting of Renner and Norton might make be ultimately decide to see this one. Your rating of 3/5 is about what I would expect.

    • Andrew King August 19, 2012 / 12:28 am

      You know , as much as I love Edward Norton, he was not much of a presence in this film. It was kind of a shame they didn’t make better use of him.

      • Tommy D August 19, 2012 / 12:31 am

        Yeah, that’s what I’ve been hearing. They wasted a great actor’s talent.

  3. bck1402 August 20, 2012 / 12:44 am

    The movie feels like a partial remake/reboot and part sequel at the same time. It is geared more towards the action fan tho, which makes it half a cool movie and half a talking heads feature. It’s not unlike Patriot Games in that way where we’re shown what goes on behind the scenes of an operation. It just feels that while they are trying to be smart with the dialogue, it just might blow over the heads of viewers who have not seen the previous instalments.

    • Andrew King August 20, 2012 / 12:54 am

      The other thing I would say is that they were trying a little hard to seem intellectual with the “talking heads” dialogue. The difference between this and Patriot Games, is that I would watch Patriot Games again. The action in this movie was pretty solid though.

  4. ajsaenz August 20, 2012 / 1:49 am

    I have read the first three Bourne books by Robert Ludlum and the fourth book by Eric Van Lustbader. The books are amazing and are a must read. The movies, well if you HAVEN’T read the books then they are decent in a genre then you realize that the plot is only skin deep and accept that the acting will be okay. Enjoy them for what they are and leave the deep introspection to other genre’s.

    • Andrew King August 20, 2012 / 1:38 pm

      This movie just felt like a lot of jargon they expected everyone to remember from the earlier films, and they just didn’t make it convincing enough for me to care about anything except “When is the next bad ass action sequence?”

  5. Kat August 20, 2012 / 2:11 am

    I will always remember The Bourne Supremacy for one and only one reason: “Did I leave a magazine in the toaster?”

    Haven’t seen this one yet, but I’m a big fan of Renner’s. (I even liked him in S.W.A.T.) Though, someone (I forget who) said something pretty hilarious/true about his career so far: “Hey, could we have a movie where Jeremy Renner plays some kind of taciturn secret agent? It’d be a nice change of pace.”

    • Andrew King August 20, 2012 / 1:35 pm

      That pretty much sums it up. I have to say though, I think Supremacy was my favorite of all the Bourne films.

  6. mishmashmor August 20, 2012 / 2:40 pm

    Your point of view is so interesting for me as I’m the complete opposite. I adore the Bourne films – I would even argue they form one of the best action series ever. But The Bourne Legacy is dull, boring and suffers from a severe lack of plot and relevance to the other films. My review ended up being quite similar to yours except I didn’t find Renner particularly engaging at all and the whole drug addict angle was too tenuous for me to appreciate.

    • Andrew King August 20, 2012 / 4:55 pm

      In retrospect they are better then I gave them credit for. As far as the drug thing goes, I did think it was a really interesting angle, but like I mentioned it just felt like a plot device slapped in there to add tension that didn’t actually exist. There is no doubt though, that action scenes in all of the Bourne movies are very well executed, and very kinetic.

  7. thesillyandroid August 24, 2012 / 5:23 am

    I am a huge fan of the Bourne series, i thought the Damon trilogy was brilliant. The action was great, and plot was decent too. They could have developed the plot more for Jason Bourne, but I felt the CIA parts were pretty authentic. I didn’t like Legacy at all though, like you said the political conversations were boring and the action was extremely sparse, which is not a good sign for an action movie. Renner def did a good job , but i think Tony Gilroy has run out of ideas to put in this series.

    • Andrew King August 24, 2012 / 2:01 pm

      I would have to agree with you, there is basically no comparison between this new one and the originals, they were undoubtedly much better.

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