Matt Damon is Jason Bourne. He’s the face of the franchise, and even influenced the major tone and style shift of the James Bond franchise. ‘The Bourne Legacy’ doesn’t reboot or erase Damon’s three previous ‘Bourne‘ movies, but rather expands his world as we know it. Our new central character doesn’t have amnesia like Jason Bourne, so the tension, wonder and surprise must come from his learning just how deep the rabbit hole goes, and how widespread the inner workings of Treadstone and Blackbriar are. No, ‘Legacy’ isn’t as good as the previous three ‘Bourne’ flicks, but it’s still a worthy carrier of the ‘Bourne’ name and lot better than most franchise number-fours.
‘The Bourne Legacy’ takes place during and after the events of Damon’s last ‘Bourne’ flick, ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’. You don’t need to re-watch all three films to follow ‘Legacy’, but I definitely recommend revisiting ‘Ultimatum’, as several elements in ‘Legacy’ directly tie in with it. In fact, if you haven’t noticed from the trailers, ‘Legacy’ even incorporates some footage from ‘Ultimatum’, and tweaks it by showing it from a new perspective.
As we all know by now, Jason Bourne indirectly exposed a lot of the CIA’s secrets. With all of these things coming to light, high-ups at the CIA are worried about other Treadstone-like programs getting leaked, so they try to destroy those programs entirely, one of which involves super soldier Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner). Imagine if the training that Bourne went through was upgraded to include ‘Captain America’-style drugs that enhance the abilities of the mind and body – that’s what Cross is on. This promising program is known as “Output.” Because the CIA wants to sever and bury it, Cross becomes a target. With his drug supply cut off, Cross only has so much time left before he won’t be able to physically and mentally protect himself. That’s why he seeks the aid of geneticist Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz).
I love the ‘Bourne’ franchise. When it comes to the original trilogy, I thought that the series got better with each movie. ‘Legacy’ isn’t as great as the previous three, but it’s still very good. My only complaint stems from the first third of the film. There isn’t anything gripping in the opening – not even the obligatory action movie explosion intro. Instead, it’s all a bunch of talking about things that we know nothing about and repeatedly dropping the name “Jason Bourne” just to remind us that this is a ‘Bourne’ flick. Fortunately, after the slow first third, the movie picks up to the high-octane action that we expect. I won’t spoil anything, but a few scenes are just as good, possibly even a hair better, than the most memorable action sequences in the Damon ‘Bourne’ flicks.
Rumors are inconsistent as to where this franchise will go next. Will Cross take the helm from here out? Will Bourne come back? Will they appear together in a film? How many movies in total will Universal make? The studio has answered all of these questions at one time or another, but the responses keep changing. In reality, nobody knows. As a fan, I’m happy where this is going and will blindly follow it wherever it takes me. If Cross and Bourne cross paths, that would just be an added bonus.