The Bourne series is back, but sans-Matt Damon. Though that is not to say Jeremy Renner doesn’t hold his own as he takes on the role of Aaron Cross, a black ops agent not unlike Jason Bourne, in The Bourne Legacy. As he trains in the wilderness of Alaska, we are introduced to a calculating, cunning operative that uses chemical compounds to enhance his physical and mental abilities in the field. Events from The Bourne Ulitimatum lead CIA clandestine operations leader Eric Byer (Edward Norton) to shut down Operation Outcome and eliminate all of its agents, including Cross. As he narrowly avoids an attempt on his life, he begins a search for the chemicals he needs that leads him to Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz).
Bourne trilogy writer Tony Gilroy returns again, but this time as director as well. Unlike some of his other directorial outings (Michael Clayton, State of Play), action supersedes plot and character development in The Bourne Legacy, and the film is worse off because of it. The introduction of dependent chemicals completely muddies the series plot, though the addition of another top agent in Cross is a nice treat. Luckily, the cast is up to the task as Renner and Weisz are believable, and Norton delivers as the government agent hellbent on cleaning up the mess that has been made. Unfortunately, Gilroy’s love of the “shaky action camera” makes the fight scenes throughout rather nauseating to watch (sadly, Ultimatum suffered the same fate).
Though the film is largely your typical summer blockbuster, there are definitely some bright spots. Even with the questionable camera angles and cuts, the heart-racing action throughout was top notch, including a predator chase in Alaska, a terrifying shooting scene in a laboratory and a motorcycle chase in Manila. The exploration of the Aaron Cross story adds a new layer to the series, and opens up new possibilities for subsequent movies.
As the movie abruptly ended and the credits rolled, I found myself wanting Jason Bourne back. Cross was a worthy character, but a Bourne film just isn’t the same without Bourne in it. Though The Bourne Legacy is only worthy of 2 1/2 out of 5 stars, the open ending left me hopeful for what the next installment has to offer. And I’m really hoping it involves Matt Damon.