To say that The Bourne Legacy is loosely based on Eric Van Lustbander’s novel or even set in the same universe that Robert Ludlum created is a giant overstatement. Screenwriters (and director) Tony and Dan Gilroy have taken Ludlum’s Bourne series and expanded into something wholly new. That’s what they set out to do, and that’s what they did. In essence, we should all be calling The Bourne Legacy a reboot of the Matt Damon film franchise. Jeremy Renner takes over the legacy as Aaron Cross, a scientifically enhanced super-agent, who, like Jason Bourne, has a serious problem with authority.

The Players:

  • Director: Tony Gilroy
  • Screenwriters: Tony Gilroy and Dan Gilroy, Robert Ludlum (Bourne series)
  • Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton
  • Music By: James Newton Howard
  • Cinematography: Robert Elswit

The Plot:

In the wake of Jason Bourne’s dismemberment of Operation Blackbriar, the CIA decides to dispose of their other black ops programs, which includes the termination of their field agents. However, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), an agent from Operation Outcome, escapes from being executed. With the help of Outcome scientist Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), he sets out to expose the crimes of his superiors.

The Good:

  • Jeremy Renner/Aaron Cross: Jeremy Renner is in full-force here. You wouldn’t know it from his other roles, but he’s an athletic actor and he has the physical ability to make us believe he can do all the ass-kicking in the world. Also, he’s pretty good at the other stuff (like acting). He knows how show a painful backstory without saying a whole lot. Co-stars Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton also do their part and make the movie feel more authentic and complete, but Renner emerges as a big star here more than he did in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol or The Avengers.
  • Action Sequences: Though the chase scenes and gun fights are few and far between, and the action takes a little while to begin, when it happens it’s breathtaking. There’s chase scenes, standoffs and giant explosions, you just have to wait for them. But the highlight might be a scene where a mad scientist abruptly murders all of his colleagues. Brace yourself for that one, it’s nail-bitingly good.
  • Story Set Up: The Gilroys have done a nice job with this story. They’ve taken Jason Bourne’s legacy and enlarged it. This film makes a jump from The Bourne Ultimatum, and though Matt Damon is no longer around in this movie Jason Bourne still exists in the Legacy universe (this is a treat for the fans). This movie is the aftermath. It’s what Bourne’s actions have led to – the total annihilation of Treadstone agents. Aaron Cross, who escapes his death and goes looking for answers, is our way back in to the series. Come to think of it, Cross has a lot in common with the TV show The Prisoner in that he ends up stuck in one place (Manila) while trying to figure out why his bosses turned on him. Simple story, but good enough to lure audiences back into the franchise.

The So-So:

  • Motorcycle Chase Scene: As impressive as it is to see a motorcycle slide down a stairway rail in the middle of broad daylight and afternoon traffic, the motorcycle chase scene ends up feeling like a drag. It just goes on and on and on and on. And on. And on.

The Bad

  • First 30 Or So Minutes: The Bourne Legacy is a good thriller, but it takes a while to get going. That’s not necessarily bad, but it can be frustrating for someone who expects to see gun fight after chase scene after explosion and so on. The problem is that in setting up Renner they’ve got a lot of explaining to do. However once the action finally arrives, it does so with such high-energy that all that frustration goes flying out the window. So just sit tight, it’s worth it.

Overall:

By the end of The Bourne Legacy you are left wanting more. The movie ends on a very high note that it’s hard to believe the credits are rolling. It also sets it up quite nice for another sequel. So if Universal’s plan was to seduce audiences back into the Bourne franchise, then their plan definitely worked.

The Rating: 7.5/10

The Bourne Legacy opens in theaters everywhere August 10.

Photo Gallery:

Trailer:

Will you be seeing The Bourne Legacy this weekend?