The Bourne Legacy

Directed By: Tony Gilroy

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Joan Allen, and Albert Finney

The Bourne Legacy is a film that's had a shadow cast over it from the day it was announced.  It's the Jason Bourne movie without Jason Bourne.  With Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon departing the franchise, it's a new chapter in the series.  Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, Duplicity) is taking the director's chair from Greengrass, while Jeremy Renner (The Avengers, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, The Town) is taking Damon's place as rogue spy Aaron Cross.  The franchise is not even about Operation Blackbriar anymore.  It's all about Operation Outcome.  Despite all these changes, it's still a Bourne movie, and some things never change.

Because of all that's been happening with Jason Bourne and Operation Blackbriar in the public sphere, the CIA has decided to terminate all of its black ops programs.  With Pam Landy (Joan Allen) leading the charge against Treadstone and Operation Blackbriar, they have no alternative.  Eric Byer (Edward Norton) is leading the effort to burn the program Operation Outcome down to the ground.  The operatives in this program have been enhanced both physically and mentally via genetic mutations.  Terminating the program will require taking out all the agents in the field, their physicians, and anyone else associated with the program.

Aaron Cross (Renner) is a CIA operative in Operation Outcome and is on assignment out in the wilderness.  While fleeing some wolves, he loses his medication — green and blue pills that all Outcome agents must take regularly.  Without the pills, the effects of the genetic enhancements will wear off.  Cross meets with another Outcome agent (Oscar Isaac) in the woods in search of medication.  He intends to get the pills from this other agent, but his plans change when Byer launches attacks on all the Outcome agents.  A drone is sent for Cross and his fellow operative.  Cross survives the attack and continues his search for the medication.  Eventually, he finds his physician Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) and makes her an offer she can't refuse.  In exchange for protection from Byer and the CIA, Shearing will help him find some medication.

The Bourne Legacy is a brooding film that hits the reset button on the Bourne franchise without actually hitting the reset button.  While the film introduces a host of new characters including Renner's Aaron Cross, this is still the world that Jason Bourne created.  It may be the first chapter in the Aaron Cross saga, but it's the appendix to Jason Bourne's saga.  The film takes place after The Bourne Supremacy and is concurrent with The Bourne Ultimatum.  That being said, it sucks to be second because somebody else has already written the playbook.  This definitely holds true for Tony Gilroy and Jeremy Renner.

The Bourne Legacy pulls out the same old tricks as previous Bourne flicks.  It's just a bigger world with new bad guys and some genetic mutations.  Given that it's been five years since Jason Bourne has been kicking any ass, that's not inherently a bad thing.  Gilroy takes some of the best elements of the original trilogy and builds on them.  He gives us a smart thriller that creates a world full of endless corruption.

The main players deliver strong performances.  Jeremy Renner takes up the Bourne mantle successfully.  Having proven himself in other blockbuster franchises, he now gets a starring role where he gets to shine.  He's smooth.  He's funny.  He's badass.  Renner is everything he needs to be as the new lead for this franchise.  With his character's stint in the wilderness, he even gives us a taste of that wolf fight we never got in The Grey.  As Dr. Marta Shearing, Rachel Weisz gives us a strong leading lady, the likes of which we've not seen in the Bourne franchise previously.  Franka Potente and Julia Stiles have nothing on Weisz.  I also enjoyed Edward Norton's performance as Eric Byer.  We haven't seen an antagonist this dastardly since Chris Cooper's turn as Alexander Conklin in The Bourne Identity.

While I definitely enjoyed The Bourne Legacy, it's not without its problems.  Clocking in at 2 hours and 15 minutes, the film is a little lengthy.  There are some long periods of no action, and it can be a little too brooding at times.  This doesn't take too much away from the film though.  The Bourne Legacy, this new chapter in the spy saga, gets a strong 0.06% rating. Have a few rounds of beer with this one.