Now Playing: ‘Bourne’ Again

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.

Rating: ★★★★☆


  1. Boston007

    I really loved this line for some reason, gave me a chuckle:
    “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”
    Thanks for the review, I definitely want to see it. I loved all the Bourne movies and I agree, Matt Damon IS Jason Bourne.

  2. Really Luke? Really?

    This went from smart, slow-building politically charged thriller to big dumb incomprehensible shaky-cam mess faster than you can say “Hey Renner jump on this dirt bike because we certainly haven’t had a dirt bike chase scene in a ‘Bourne’ movie…oh wait…”


    • The reason why Luke didn’t like the first part of the movie was because it was reminiscent of ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’, which conversely is why I thought it was the best part of the movie.

      • Nobody is going into The Bourne Legacy wanting to watch Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Nobody. Every Bourne fan is going to see it for one reason – we want some serious ass-kicking. We want a Bourne movie, not a Tinker Tailer – that painfully serious “talkie” spy flick that only managed to gross $24 million stateside. If that’s what the masses wanted from Bourne, then Tinker would have been a smash hit. Not even the amazing cast could save that snoozer.

        • You saw ass-kicking? I saw a lot of blurry stuff that could’ve been ass-kicking I guess. The soundtrack was sure full of hard thumps and crashing metal like something was happening on screen, it just wasn’t visible.

        • Given that it’s Gilroy, I was actually hoping for a nice mix of talk and action. I honestly wouldn’t have minded only a couple excellent action scenes interspersed throughout the narrative and I’m sad to hear that instead of maintaining a mix it devolves into a rote shaky-cam mess. Shame that Gilroy opted for it, I don’t understand why directors seem to think wide shots are a cancer. I’m really hoping Skyfall doesn’t take the same misguided route.

    • Ted S.

      Totally agree with you Aaron, this film started out really well but then it just fell apart after they decided to get rid of the “program”. Also, where’s the big fight scene we’re used to seeing the Bourne films? You’re so right about the the big chase scene, it’s way too much shaky-cam. I start to think Tony Gilroy is a one hit wonder as a director.

  3. JM

    I kind of love Tony Gilroy, but this sounds like a step down from ‘Michael Clayton’ and more shallow than ‘Duplicity.’ I’m sensing genre confusion.

    ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ had a killer opening and that great roof chase / bathroom fight. The reviews of ‘Legacy’ make it sound like it only has one half-ass car chase near the end and no third act. Why cliff-hang this?

    What’s the point of going sci-fi with the chems, then not having any fight scenes? And why do they hint at but not employ any secret female ass-kickers?

    • That living room/bathroom fight doesn’t get nearly enough credit. It’s one of my favorites ever committed to celluloid. Especially the single slo-mo shot in the entire film. Brilliant stuff. Greengrass understands shaky cam and rapid editing- it actually can be used to augment and add intensity as long as it’s STILL INTELLIGIBLE. I seriously cannot fathom how all the emulators have failed to grasp the crux of what makes that scene work.

  4. Eric

    The first Bourne movie was infinitely better than the two sequels that followed. The action was much more interesting and despite a fairly derivative story was still a fun ride to go on. I agree with Aaron about the shaky cam in the sequels. It made fights impossible to follow and felt like a cheap gimmick to cover up for Damon’s lack of physicality. At least this new Bourne movie has an actor in Renner who is more believable in an action role.

  5. JM

    I’m surprised how little profit there is in the hitman / assassin genre.

    $478M – Mr. & Mrs. Smith
    $442M – The Bourne Ultimatum
    $341M – Wanted

    $288M – The Bourne Supremacy
    $217M – Collateral
    $214M – Pulp Fiction
    $214M – The Bourne Identity

    $181M – The Road To Perdition
    $180M – Kill Bill Vol. 1
    $159M – The Jackal
    $156M – This Means War
    $152M – Kill Bill Vol. 2
    $106M – The Whole Nine yards

    $99M – Hitman
    $89M – The Long Kiss Goodnight
    $67M – The American
    $61M – Colombiana
    $57M – Smokin’ Aces

    $33M – In Bruges
    $30M – Assassins
    $30M – Point Of No Return
    $19M – The Professional

    Where will ‘The Bourne Legacy’ rank against its peers?

  6. I’m not a HUGE fan of the Bourne movies, but this looks a million times better to me than those. Supremacy was one of the worst action movies I’ve ever watched, easily one of, if not THE worst offender of shaky cam, Supremacy was so bad you really couldnt tell what was going on, action shots of the guys feet and the floor while fighting was going on, it was terrible. Ultimatum made up for a lot of that, while still a bit shaky it was such a better movie, the first is still the best though and you could actually see Damon kicking some ass in that one.

    But I dont care how Bourne Matt Damon really is, I really dont think he’s that great in the role, Renner looks infinitely better as an action star and he’s the reason I even care about seeing this. If Damon was in it again, it would have been a skip and wait for home movie. But my wife and I are going to see this on Saturday and I’m really looking forward to it. For me it cant get any worse than whats already been done 🙂

  7. Disappointed to hear that the latter parts of the film go Greengrass… I’m one of those who thought the first film was great fun, and 2&3 dumbed it down story-wise and made the action incomprehensible.

    I was hoping this new film would be more like the first. Plus, it’s got Rachel Weisz in it, which is an immediate plus!! 😀

    • William Henley

      Plus, it’s got Rachel Weisz in it, which is an immediate plus!!

      I didn’t pay any attention in the credits, and kept thinking it was Zooey Deschanel.

  8. William Henley

    Wow, well, I got to take Luke’s take of the first third of the movie, and Aaron’s take on the last part of the movie. I was so lost at the begining, that I had pretty much fallen asleep by the time stuff started to happen. If it wasn’t for the closed captioning device the theater gave me, I would have been completely lost, as much of the dialogue that explained anything was lost in bass and background noises, or the fact that stuff was thrown around so quickly, that I found myself looking back at the device to figure out what or who they were talking about.

    Then the second part of the movie began. Now granted, it was fun, and I enjoyed it, but I was certainly getting nausious from the shaky-cam and motion-blurs.

    I found the story in this movie to be completely unbelievable. I loved the first three movies, I could buy the story, but magical drugs and viruses just doesn’t do it for me.

    Now it has been a while since I saw the first three movies (I was going to go back and rewatch them, but lost track of time), but this is pretty much what I got out of this movie. Jason Bourne is part of government project A. Government project B is put into place to take out Project A. Project C, which is what we see in this movie, is put into place to take out Project B, but project C also had a fail safe, so that when project B was eliminated, they could get rid of project C with some more magical drugs or, worst case scenario, arial drones. After that, they try to take out the magical drug company, one girl survives, and is protected by dude from Project C. So they have to introduce government project D to take out Project C and magical drugs.

    Now I did find the movie exciting (after the first hour), so it wasn’t a total loss for me. I just found it lacking in any substance. If I were to hand out a star rating, it would be a three, and the only reason its that high is becuase I found it exciting.

  9. Hunter

    Well you guys are all as “talky” as this long-winded film. If the franchise has nowhere to go but to keep inventing yet another super assasin “program” to deal with the problems stemming from what we assume was the original – then they should stop now. This was as boring as every Bond film from Rodger Moore to Pierce Brosnan.