The Bourne Legacy

Art & Culture


I have no objection to a franchise finding a way to replace one actor with another, but I do object to a film lasting for well over two hours failing to assemble anything as rudimentary as a plot. This film is almost literally a complete waste of time, money and effort.
Here's the situation. Matt Damon has starred in three successful Bourne films, and then decided that enough is enough. But the film studio still reckons there's mileage in the title, so they choose a replacement – not to play Bourne himself, but a fellow undercover agent, while still retaining the name that audiences will recognise. Scriptwriter Tony Gilroy is upgraded to director (and scriptwriter), on the basis that he wrote the three previous Bourne films, as well as writing and directing the excellent Michael Clayton, and an excellent supporting cast is employed – Edward Norton and Rachel Weisz among others. Jeremy Renner is ideally cast as Aaron Cross, the new hero who doesn't know his real identity, and everything is set to go. Except they don't have a story.
Let's look at the 135 minute running time of the film, without giving too much away. Renner/Cross spends at least the first 30 minutes of the film in Alaska, honing his survival skills. Interesting for 5 minutes, dull thereafter. Meanwhile, back in the States, Norton's character, Eric Byer, whose motivation is never clear, is trying to destroy the programme of which Cross is part. The next half hour of the film involves Cross coming back to civilisation, saving Rachel Weisz, and going on the run with her. The last hour plus consists of the two of them on the run together, mainly to track down a pill. And that's it. There is no point to the whole thing apart from chase scenes and shoot outs. At least Hitchcock's North By Northwest came up with the pretext of a reason why people were trying to kill Cary Grant.
As I say, it's all such a waste. Jeremy Renner was so good in The Hurt Locker, and is an ideal Bourne, but even he can only work with what is in the script. In the entire film, he only ever has a face to face relationship with Weisz's scared scientist, apart from a few scenes of surpassing pointlessness in a cabin in Alaska with another agent. These are supposed to create tension (is the other guy out to kill him?), but the only killing that's been done there is that of time. Otherwise, there are two separate films taking place. One in which Renner and Weisz are being chased, and the other where Norton and co are trying to track them down. I sat there waiting for something interesting to happen, some dialogue, some insight, anything to help me understand why the film was made in the first place – apart from making money, of course.
The ending suggests that the studio is hoping for a sequel. I can't share their optimism. There is nothing here to follow.

By Phil Raby

Front Row Films

•    Content supplied by the excellent Front Row Films website – check the site and join up for many more reviews and general all-round film goodness.