Looking back on the Bourne films, you can really see how that first film changed spy movies forever in Hollywood. It took an unlikely actor Matt Damon and turned him into an action hero. Fight scenes, unknown government conspiracies, vulnerable heroes and extreme espionage all became Bourne staples. This then trickled over and changed how we saw James Bond, Mission: Impossible and Jack Ryan. Jason Bourne changed the face of movies forever.
Once again the Bourne franchise has found a way to surprise us and in my eyes delivered a new way of changing the guard between lead actors.
Bond has a long history of surviving every time they switch actors playing the lead role. That is the secret to the longevity of the series.
But instead of just recasting Jason Bourne, they found a new and original way to pass the torch.
“The Bourne Legacy” takes place in the final minutes of the previous film where Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) has come home to America and his mission is to take Treadstone down.
With the secrets of Treadstone being released, the government starts to panic so they start liquidating all their trained operatives in the program.
Each Treadstone operative takes medications that enhance their minds and body. So the government finds it easy to kill off their operatives by just switching their medications. They think it is a clean sweep.
Up in the Alaskan wilderness, operative Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is completing the survival portion of his training. He has to endure extreme temperatures with very little clothing, scale mountains, evade hunting wolf packs and live off the land. When his medications run low, Cross arrives back from his assignment 2 days early. The government tries to kill him upon his arrival back but he evades them as he was trained to do.
Cross eventually teams up with one of the scientists (Rachel Weisz) who developed the medications. Together they try and uncover the secrets of Treadstone plus try and find Cross his medications.
The movie runs at an incredible pace as it shows Treadstone crumbling behind the scenes as well as Cross trying to figure out what is happening to him.
Jeremy Renner is a star, hands down. After his turn here, “Mission: Impossible” and “The Avengers”, Renner was born to play an action hero. But he’s not that robotic kind of action hero (aka Steven Seagal). Renner can act which he proved in not only his break-out role in “The Hurt Locker” but also in this film. I liked how he was able to be an action star one moment but vulnerable and out of it the next.
I also really enjoyed the performance from Rachel Weisz. Her character could have been just the damsel in distress if she was played by any other actress but Weisz brings many levels to this character. I especially enjoyed her chemistry with Renner and I hope they will explore that more in a sequel.
Edward Norton’s vicious squad leader also needs more fleshing out but what I saw of him it would be interesting to see where he goes.
Could he become the Joan Allen character of this continuation or something else entirely?
I really enjoyed Tony Gilroy’s script and how they carried on the series. The ripples of Jason Bourne’s actions and then switching the focus to another operative caught in the destruction of Treadstone is brilliant. I also really enjoyed Gilroy’s direction. His freeway chase is like no other on film. It’s like the car chase in the French Connection but on steroids and through the crowded streets of Manilla. That scene is worth the price of admission alone. Gilroy’s fist fights are very similar to Paul Greengrass but with Gilroy we actually see someone land a punch.
I thoroughly enjoyed this continuation of the Bourne franchise and it still gives Matt Damon an opportunity to return but as far as I am concerned it is in great hands with Jeremy Renner.
4.5 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer