The name, the overlapping timeline, several characters, the writer and even the iconic Moby track remain - but the speed, the economy of story and the raw emotional core of the original trilogy are absent in this stale and messy franchise continuation. As the CIA are putting out the fires set by Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) and Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) another top secret arm of the U.S government [lead by Eric Byer (Edward Norton)]must dismantle "Outcome" - a group of genetically enhanced and pharmalogically dependent assassins [including Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner)] succeeding the "Treadstone" legacy.
If you're familiar with the previous films written and directed by Tony Gilroy - Michael Clayton & Duplicity - you would not expect this lethargically paced and indulgent new addition to the Bourne franchise - but unfortunately that's what you get. The entire time you've got the familiar elements from the Bourne films, rooms full of analyst's pulling data, scouring through surveillance footage, falsifying documents, brutal hand to hand combat, vehicular chases, except it's slowed down ad nauseum. This film feels like Gilroy is saying “this is how I would have done it”.
Renner's Aaron Cross has the fatal flaw of selfish motivations for being in the program. The dim-witted former soldier is reliant on the enhancement that the performance enhancing drugs maintain. He's therefore a glorified addict. Addicted to the action, to the enhancement - this is an inferior, simplified derivation of the character that made his career.
Edward Norton's Eric Byer doesn't add any of the gravitas that you'd expect. He's slotting into the Chris Cooper, Joan Allen and David Strathairn roles of the original trilogy; but in a diminished capacity. Seeing him conspiring alongside Stacey Keach, his American History X co-star, increased hope that this is a return to form, unfortunately it's the auto-pilot Norton that's been operating for the past decade.
The emotional core of the film is Rachel Weisz's Marta. She's bought into the science at the expense of the notoriety and brings a human element to the dismantling of the program. Her experiences are harrowing and her performance is affective and she was the lone highlight.
The Bourne 'Legacy' isn't what you'll see from its titular companion. At the core of the series Bourne was about a man realising that he was an amoral, apathetic puppet and wanting redemption, which came with him tearing down the establishment that cultivated him. The Bourne Ultimatum gave us hope - The Bourne Legacy really says that everything Jason Bourne did was for nothing. The Bourne Legacy disgraces the family name.
Directed by: Tony Gilroy
Written by: Tony Gilroy and Dan Gilroy
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacey Keach
The Bourne Legacy is released in Australia on the 16th of August 2012, in the U.S.A on the 10th of August 2012 and in the U.K on the 13th of August 2012 .