With Matt Damon as the titular character, the Bourne film series was seen as a reinvention for both the actor and for action films as a whole. Keeping the name in the title, The Bourne Legacy creates a way to continue the hyper-action story-lines, with a new character and supporting cast. There’s plenty of interesting and violent action to be had in The Bourne Legacy; however, it’s just wedged in between fair amounts of boring, long-winded sections of tedious plot.
A member of the same program that created Jason Bourne, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is stuck traversing the mountainous wilderness as a training exercise, which he considers punishment. During his time at training, the events of the last film cause a stir within the CIA, which is creating these super fighting machines. The decision is made to cancel the project, which means terminating all the subjects and anyone on the food chain below the top rank. After escaping a murder attempt, Aaron Cross teams up with Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) as they ostensibly search for answers.
The biggest issue with this film’s story is that they don’t actually do so. Dr. Shearing is the only surviving scientist who used to give Cross his status examinations, and most importantly, his program medications. Without these pills, his body will start to turn on him. He lost them during his training exercise, and since everything he knows is going to hell, he locates Dr. Shearing, hoping she has the meds he needs. The Bourne Legacy is not a searing damnation of twisted government monsters manipulating the world to create its personal team of killing machines; it’s an action film about the search for Excedrin. Granted, Cross’s needs are more dire than relief for a pounding headache, but this is nothing more than a glorified drug hunt.
Newcomers to the series may feel very lost through the first half of the film. Multiple flashbacks to the previous films cloud the story as they’re whisked by with an unclear explanation for the uninitiated. None of it is made better by the fact that the two-hour and five-minute running time is just filler to kick off another story that has none of the intrigue and mystery associated with what should be a spy thriller. Most everything entailed could have been truncated down to 30 minutes if the convoluted delivery was trimmed down, leaving time for a proper story.
Thrown between an uninteresting story and a heap of new characters (along with old ones too) is some fun action. These scenes are extremely sparse until the final chase scene, serving its purpose to coax the “oohs” and “ahs” from the audience. Clever weapons in “MacGyver” fashion, a table to the face, and some interesting deaths will please the attending viewers looking for a thrill, but it doesn’t make up for the pointless storyline.
The Bourne Legacy is long and fairly boring, and it fails to even hit the mark of being mindlessly fun. Could it lead to another film that is as good as or better than the first entries? Yes, but that new story should have been the one used here — there’s nothing mentally stimulating about watching a man search for his next score.