Approachable for Bourne fanatics, but if you’ve never seen one you’re going to be confused for about 45-minutes. The Bourne Legacy says much about but reduces Matt Damon to a mug shot following his disappearance in the 2007 “finale,” and finds a vehicle for Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross, another agent victim of government mind control. Impatience is to be had with the garbled exposition that seems to speak to savvy-aware fans – to others it might come off as vague tech-speak, and without an intimate core to make us care. But as soon as CIA-agent-experiment Aaron teams up with classified geneticist scientist Rachel Weisz as Dr. Marta Shearing, the new franchise re-entry has found a way to engage us which it does intelligibly.
You must know that Operation Treadstone was a top secret CIA program to recruit U.S. service members, brainwash their morality, and turn them into relentless assassins. In “Legacy” we learn of the chem pills that inject the “virus” into agents as well as re-wire them genetically, turning them into killing machines. Aaron is sharp and focused, and martial arts adroit, as Jason Bourne. But the chem pills are like crank, and weakening and nausea are withdrawal symptoms (Man, is this whole guy’s life a psychosomatic hurt locker, or what?). Alas, Aaron needs his dispensary doctor.
In an outrageously violent sequence the viral medical department is terminated, literally. Marta is the only one to make it out alive, and Aaron finds he needs her alive. Aaron has wide-ranging memory as to what Treadstone was, cognition as to why he was set-up, comprehension of his termination – opposite of the amnesiac Jason Bourne. For this new spin-off, this mystery is bucked to the side in favor of making Aaron a survivalist story.
Writer-director Tony Gilroy (who penned the previous trilogy) has weaved in, roughly but commendably, some social-political Big Brother commentary. CIA Blackbriar agents are more or less informed of what they’re after and who they are trying to terminate – Operative boss Eric Byer (Edward Norton), retired program Admiral Turso (Stacy Keach), program director Hirsh (Albert Finney) are the merciless honchos supplied with the Intel. Norton seems too reluctant to embrace the a**hole role.
The beloved action sequences of “Supremacy” and “Ultimatum” are rekindled for the last quarter of “Legacy,” this time held in the Far East Manila. Why is the cloaked Asian man on the motorcycle so relentless and unforgiving in his pursuit? He’s an agent, he doesn’t need anymore motivation than that. Still, crabby moviegoers might feel the patience in getting to the chase stuff is too aggravating. I say, be happy this isn’t “The Osterman Weekend” (1983) and that it’s a Bourne movie – I know what sheer boredom is case in point, so stop pouting. “Legacy” isn’t going to change anyone’s life but it’s good enough for now.
135 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
SUSPENSE-THRILLER / ACTION FANS / BLOCKBUSTER WEEKEND CROWDS
Film Cousins: “The Bourne Identity” (2002); “The Bourne Supremacy” (2004); “Crank” (2006); “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007).