[FILM: Review] The Bourne Legacy
The Bourne Legacy
Opens August 16
The Bourne films have always been a cut above your average action thriller, and The Bourne Legacy lives up to their high standards, while also representing a new beginning for the series. When star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass announced their exit after Ultimatum, it seemed unlikely that the films could, or even should, continue, but writer-turned-director Tony Gilroy devised an elegant solution. The Bourne Legacy runs parallel to the events of that third film, letting them play out in the background while adding new characters, new layers to the central mystery, and a new leading man in Jeremy Renner. The tagline is ‘there was never just one’, and while we knew that all along, now we have compelling reasons to care.
Renner’s character Aaron Cross is a field agent with Operation Outcome, a secret CIA program linked to the one that created Jason Bourne. When we meet him, he’s on a training mission in the remote Alaskan wilderness, oblivious to the fact that his program has been shut down, and he is marked for termination. Brawn and ingenuity eventually lead him to team up with Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), a scientist whose connection to the program has also made her a target. All the while, a sinister CIA operative played by Edward Norton is tracking them. The ostensible villain of the piece, Norton’s character sees himself as a white-collar patriot with a job to do, and downplaying the villainy makes his role all the more effective.
Gilroy is one of the finest writers working in Hollywood right now – he proved his directorial skills with debut feature Michael Clayton, and brings the same command of suspense to The Bourne Legacy. The script is tense and tightly-controlled, while the action sequences pack a visceral, bone-breaking punch. Renner proves himself both thoughtful and tough, while the rest of the cast is top-notch, including quite a number of ‘oh, it’s him/her!’ supporting players. The Bourne series has been praised for its realism, and Legacy maintains this while getting rid of the shaky cam that was a trademark of the earlier Greengrass instalments. Gilroy has said that he aspired to make an edge-of-the-seat thriller that didn’t require viewers to shave off any IQ points, and in this, he has succeeded.