Aaron Cross is not the hero we need right now; he’s the hero we deserve. Blame our insatiable appetites for never ending sagas. We, myself included, wanted more Jason Bourne and when Matt Damon and his go-to director Paul Greengrass couldn’t crack the story for another, they did the honorable thing and, rather than ruining the series, gracefully bowed out. Producer Frank Marshall and writer of all three Bourne movies (and now director) Tony Gilroy kept the fire going under the premise that there never was just one. The result of their efforts has finally arrived.
The Bourne Legacy is an adequate but underwhelming continuation of the Bourne universe. It feels, both in tone and in spirit, a bit like a repackaging of the original but – combing footage and characters with the third film – manages to expand the mythos of the Bourne movies in such a way that actually works in opening up a future for Matt Damon's return. From the opening shot of a man floating in icy water to the familiar closing with Moby’s 'Extreme Ways', The Bourne Legacy feels very much a part of Bourne’s universe. Maybe, for Aaron Cross, too much so.
Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) knows exactly who he is. As told to him by CIA chump Eric Byer (Edward Norton), he’s a military sin-eater. A super soldier conditioned to take on and suck up all the bad stuff so that we don’t have to. As a member of an intense Black Ops program named Operation Outcome, Cross thinks he is protected from his greatest friend/enemy.
He is wrong.
With Bourne still on the loose, Byer - given orders from Turso (Stacy Keach) - sets out to shut down Operation Outcome and ruthlessly terminates all agents and scientists involved with the program. Cross escapes and Byer, driven by the political consequences that Bourne has brought about, refuses to back down. From the Alaskan wilderness to the streets of Manila, Cross plays a game of survival alongside another CIA target, Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) as they try to find a safe place and outsmart their pursuers.
Happening concurrently with the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, writer and director Tony Gilroy crafts a much quieter type of spy thriller than Bourne audiences are used to. He ramps up the politics, throws out the mystery, and dulls down the action to a manageable level. These maneuvers are sure to turn off a few fans and, without Damon to cheer on; it is unlikely that The Bourne Legacy will bring new followers to the series.
With only one large scale action piece – a motorbike chase through Manila – the small stuff has to sell a large chunk of the picture. With cameos from past Bourne affiliates Joan Allen, reprising her role as Deputy Director Pamela Landy, David Strathairn, reprising his role as Noah Vosen, the former director of Operation Blackbriar, Albert Finney, reprising his role as Dr. Albert Hirsch, the doctor responsible for the creation of Treadstone, and Scott Glenn, reprising his role as Ezra Kramer, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, The Bourne Legacy recreates the world of Jason Bourne quite well. There is one great scene – a science lab assassination – that echoes our sad reality of theater killings and random gun violence. That scene is tense and full of alarming suspense. It’s quite well handled by Gilroy and adds to the uber-reality these pictures have carved out for themselves over the years.
Unfortunately, it’s Aaron Cross who can’t manage to find his niche in it. Renner is very Steve McQueen like, and if this was a stand alone picture in a non-Bourne universe, maybe he would have a fighting chance with a script better fleshed out to benefit his character. Instead, it just feels like he’s sidekick personality that’s gone AWOL from his partner. Imagine Robin without Batman. Bucky without Captain America. That’s what Aaron Cross feels like. For large parts of the movie, the consequence of Jason Bourne and the people who he affected are largely more involving than the “get my chems” driven storyline of Cross.
Maybe that’s what it should have been titled: The Bourne Consequence. His shadow looms all over this picture and Renner, as a leading man, is deserving of his status in the role. He’s every bit charismatic; it’s just his charisma can only carry Cross so far when the moments aren’t there to make his story that memorable. I can’t help but come to one conclusion about this story and Aaron Cross and, while this doesn’t completely feel like a Hollywood cash grab, it is seriously lacking some good old common sense when it comes to story telling.
The Bourne Legacy exists for one reason only: to open up the story in such a way as to bring Damon back. Until then, this feels like a footnote in the real Bourne legacy.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and action sequences.
Runtime: 135 mins.
Director: Tony Gilroy
Writer: Tony Gilroy, Dan Gilroy
Cast: Jeremy Renner; Scott Glenn; Stacy Keach; Edward Norton; Donna Murphy; Michael Chernus
Genre: Action | Thriller
Runtime: 135 Minutes
Tagline: There Was Never Just One
Memorable Movie Quote: "Jason Bourne was just the tip of the iceberg."
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Official Site: www.thebournelegacy.net
Release Date: August 10, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: December 11, 2012.
Synopsis: Aaron Cross, a new hero, experiences life-or-death stakes that have been triggered by previous events. The story resumes after the conclusion of The Bourne Ultimatum, as a new cast of characters grapple with the consequences of Jason Bourne's actions.
Available on Blu-ray - December 11, 2012
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; English: DTS 5.1; French: DTS 5.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1; English: DTS 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; DVD copy; BD-Live; D-Box; Mobile features
Region Encoding: Region-free
The Bourne Legacy is presented in a 1080p AVC 2.40:1 transfer that shows off the wide array of locations, textures and flesh tones with a satisfying level of depth and detail. The movie takes the viewer everywhere from a snowy landscape to the blazing hot streets of Manila, and the picture goes a long way to making each place a convincing environment. The considerable amount of CGI used to enhance multiple locations, stunts and effects, is seamless here, as it should be. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix provides a lot of surround effects throughout the movie. The amount of heavy impacts and explosions keeps the subwoofer thumping, and all of the speakers usually have something to do at any given time.
- Provided by Tony Gilroy, Dan Gilroy, John Gilroy, DP Robert Elswit, 2nd Unit Director Dan Bradley and Production Designer Kevin Thompson, this commentary is quite thorough, as the three Gilroy brothers discuss each scene with the other participants. Tony Gilroy dominates the proceedings and dissects the big shootout scene in terms of how many actual locations were involved, and details how much CGI work was required.
The Bourne Legacy comes with several special features, including a nice collection of deleted scenes (including a nice Albert Finney workout), a featurette about keeping the franchise alive, several that cover the stunts, the locations, and some of the wolf shots. As usual, Universal has included a bookmarking feature, allowing the viewer to set their own bookmarks throughout the film and provides viewers access to Universal’s BD-Live online site for the viewing of trailers online. This Blu-ray includes the usual pocket BLU functionality. Also, a digital copy is available for download via the pocket BLU application. The following materials are presented in high definition on the Blu-ray. If they are also available on the DVD, they would obviously be presented in standard definition there:
- Deleted Scenes (7 min)
- Re-Bourne (6 min)
- Capturing Chaos: The Motorbike Chase (8 min)
- Enter Aaron Cross (7 min)
- Crossing Continents: Legacy on Location (8 min)
- Man vs. Wolf (5 min)
- Wolf Sequence Test (2 min)
- Moving Targets: Aaron & Marta (6 min)