The Bourne Legacy Directed by: Tony Gilroy Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton Running Time: 2 hrs 15 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: August 10, 2012
PLOT: A super solider (Renner) is being hunted by the government who created him.
WHO'S IT FOR?: Those you loved the trilogy and are willing to have an open mind following Renner instead of Matt Damon.
There are bigger stakes with The Bourne Legacy, even if the film feels smaller than what came before it. Whether you call this a reboot, extension, evolution or a spin-off, I'm thrilled with where this franchise can go.
This time around, Aaron Cross is a different kind of Bourne. It appears government/military agencies have different types of super soldiers or spies to choose from. Once he realizes that he's being hunted, like anyone/thing, he reacts. His hope lies within the system that created him. He needs more "medication." This leads to a scientist getting roped in, Dr. Marta Shearing (Weisz). Once she's involved, it's now the two of them on the run. That's it. That's the film. Yet it feels like so much more. Especially considering I didn't even mention we get to hang out with Edward Norton.
All of these Bourne movies are incredibly simple, yet are fantastic at making you believe they are incredibly elaborate. Sure, they use big words, code words and half sentences, but it is pure action at its most simple. We need to catch this guy, or else ... I need to get from point A to point B, or else. That's what is so brilliant about these movies, they are incredibly simple disguised as something else.
We needed to have a reason to believe in Aaron. After all, we all love Damon, right? I'm here to tell you it's OK to like both Jason and Aaron. You don't have to choose a favorite. The film even does a good job of showing how Aaron is slightly less than what Jason was. There were on a different experimental path. Having Renner's Aaron spend so much of the first act in Alaska roped me in. He's smart, curious, and a bit of a bad ass. Sure, tussling with a wolf (especially after watching The Grey) sounds like a terrible idea, but that is why I want my hero to do it, instead of me.
There's also the added difficulty of dealing with a damsel in distress. Weisz gets it right with Marta. She is appropriately freaked out when there is a workplace tragedy, appropriately freaked out when there is chaos in her home, and then she settles in to just being the right amount of nervous. She doesn't blow their cover, she doesn't get in the way, and Aaron explains perfectly why she is along for the ride.
What I didn't expect was how well Gilroy and his team were able to seamlessly stream together Jason Bourne's world with Aaron's. There are similar characters (and actors), and a timeline that actually plays with the previous films. It felt like this entire story fit nicely. It also makes me want to revisit the first three films.
Sure, it's not perfect. Norton is underutilized, though it's still great to have him along for the ride. Heck, even though he might be technically in the villain role, I found myself completely agreeing with this actions, given the ramifications of the situation. The final chase is gripping, but almost feels like it would fit better in a Terminator flick. Otherwise, I'm thrilled Bourne gets to continue. It's one of the few action films that doesn't feel the need to have a hero who constantly gets lucky, acts super cool the entire time, or spews one-liners at inappropriate times. Jason Bourne and Aaron Cross know how to punch, react, and escape. That is plenty good enough for me.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10