Main cast: Jeremy Renner (Aaron Cross), Rachel Weisz (Dr Marta Shearing), Edward Norton (Col Eric Byer), Stacy Keach (Adm Mark Tuso), Joan Allen (Pam Landy), David Strathairn (Noah Vosen), and Scott Glenn (Ezra Kramer)
Director: Tony Gilroy
The Bourne Legacy is where things get surreal in this Bourne franchise. It retains much of the same formula – unbelievably competent action hero, his female sidekick who often needs rescuing, a snarling villain that is more bluster than competence, lots of chases and explosions… only, they now add in gobbledygook about viruses and super soldiers to explain the competence of the hero. They have replaced the original hero – Matt Damon probably has had enough and the script must be the last straw, I’d like to imagine – with a man with an even bigger nose and less than half the impressive musculature, but the primary villains (Noah, et cetera) are mostly the same. Mostly, because Edward Norton plays the big bad, maybe because he really needs the money.
The early events in this movie somewhat overlaps with those in The Bourne Ultimatum – those folks are still going after Jason Bourne, blah blah blah. What that fellow is doing this thing, our hero in this movie, Aaron Cross, is sent to Alaska for training to make up for going AWOL for a few days. Unlike Jason Bourne, Aaron is with Operation Outcome – god, just how many divisions are there in the CIA? – and he takes “chems”, which are special pills to enhance his physical and mental abilities. Yes, we are officially in super soldier territory now.
Meanwhile, Eric Byer, the big boss of Operation Outcome, discovers that there may be a link between his division and the one Jason Bourne is up against. Deciding that there is a possibility that Outcome and its planned super, super soldier projects would be exposed as a result of any fallout with Bourne, Byer decides to just wipe out all traces of the current Outcome. Aaron manages to escape an attack on the cottage in Alaska, by chance actually, and he manages to track down and save Dr Marta Shearing, a researcher affiliated with Outcome that manages to avoid being killed too. He wants her to help him get his supply of chems, and they head to the chems factory in Manila to get him exposed to some kind of virus that will cut down his dependence on chems and HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Sorry, but the plot is even more stupid than the last few movies. I know, this franchise had always had fantastical plots, but things just get more absurd than ever here.
Aaron Cross is designed to be very different from Jason Bourne, so this guy is chatty – often annoyingly so – and prone to stupid questions. He’d wonder aloud, as he and his buddy are in the middle of a heavy snowstorm, whether the strange sounds they are hearing are from a supply helicopter. When it is revealed that he lied about his IQ to join the army, why am I not surprised? Bad science is also even more pervasive than before – a simple plate over an implant embedded deep in your skin can immediately block all signals from that implant to a satellite, and you can aim and shoot a drone plane from the ground during a heavy snowstorm, but the people manning the plane can’t see you because of that same snowstorm.
These Outcome guys plant those implants to track the agents, and apparently the implants can be easily removed with a knife, without any consequences to the agent. God, then why even bother with such a measure? And if those guys can send missiles to kill the agents by tracking them down using those implants, why didn’t they just do that in the first place, when Aaron still has that implant? Why send a drone that is clearly operated in an inefficient manner, if a snowstorm can blind the sight of the person controlling the drone? Why am I even watching this movie? The chems are supposed to make one smarter and stronger – I think the people behind this script could use some of those themselves.
The previous movies in this franchise have their share of weird logic and bad science, but here, these elements are very noticeable because the pacing here is nowhere as slick and taut as that in those movies. The formula is done a bit too obviously by-the-numbers here, and and Aaron Cross is a generic rogue agent with a heart cliché – a far blander and duller replacement of Jason Bourne – so this movie ends up being a lethargic kind of blah. It is watchable, I suppose, as some kind of cable fare, but this is actually a B-grade straight-to-video movie at the end of the day masquerading as a blockbuster flick. I’d think Jeremy Renner would have at least worked out harder to have a hotter body to show off in his shirtless scenes – that’s the least he could have done to help me overcome the tedium of sitting through this flick.