It has been five years since the release of The Bourne Ultimatum, but The Bourne Legacy deftly closes the gap in this faithful continuation of the story of experimental government agent programs and their subjects.
Directed this time around by screenwriter Tony Gilroy, The Bourne Legacy offers a seamless transition into new territory by dovetailing Jason Bourne’s story from Ultimatum with the new conflict arising in Legacy.
The film even begins with the same image of a faceless man floating in the water to the tune of John Powell’s opening theme in The Bourne Identity. It seems like they definitely are trying to keep the connection, yet at the same time showing that this will be a new story.
This movie addresses the effect Jason Bourne’s actions are having on other governmental operations, such as the experimental program called Outcome. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is one of six agents (or “subjects”) remaining in the program, which takes pharmaceutical science and enhances the human body and mind to make them the perfect weapons. Rachel Weisz’s character, Dr. Marta Shearing, falls under the pharmaceutical end, but winds up helping Aaron escape the authorities while trying to make up for his lack of medicine that he’s been taking to survive as an Outcome agent. Unlike Jason Bourne, Aaron knows what he’s doing and why he’s doing it, but he quickly learns that his government is against him when the program (and its “participants”) starts to be wiped clean in order to cover its tracks.
The story takes a little while to get into, as it tries to cover ground from both movies. The familiarity of what’s happening on Bourne’s end is juxtaposed with complete confusion on watching Cross’s end, as the audience does not know why he’s taking chemicals and drawing blood in the middle of the snowy wilderness. However, the movie picks up as tragedy befalls Marta, causing the two protagonists to finally meet and move the plot along. It also helps to have the cutaways from Aaron Cross alone in the wilderness to the tense rooms of the government offices, making it seem like it’s moving faster than it is.
As this is somewhat of another origin story – despite picking up in the middle of Ultimatum‘s events – it definitely lacks on the action side. A lot of explaining needs to occur for the audience to catch on to how this program is different from Treadstone, and Edward Norton’s character (Eric Byer) does his best to initiate the conflict. Luckily, that’s where Marta comes into play, as she is able serve as the host of answers for Aaron Cross as well as for the audience members. As with the other Bourne films, this one will certainly benefit from repeat viewings.
Speaking of Rachel Weisz’s character, she certainly has the Bourne girl thing down pat. She has obnoxiously perfect running form, has that “You’ve got to be kidding me!” face nailed whenever Aaron displays his crazy fighting skills, and she has a flawless worried/confused look throughout the movie. However, she does have some fight in her, which I can say is lacking from the previous two ladies of the trilogy.
It’s nice to see familiar faces as well, such as Pamela Landy (Joan Allen), Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) and Dr. Hirsch (Albert Finney), even though they are merely there to provide the backstory of Jason Bourne. It helps with the cohesive nature of this film, linking Ultimatum and Legacy together. The flashbacks are good tools to utilize, although it seems that they will be disregarded in any possible sequels, as Bourne’s story is seemingly wrapped up. Nevertheless, there appears to be room left open for a possible revisit to his storyline, as he never is captured, and Pamela Landy’s testimony from the end of Ultimatum is apparently discredited.
Overall, the movie is a classic Bourne film, and surely future sequels will be welcome. The film has the same look, same music, and some of the same actors, creating a solid continuation of the story of conspiracy and morality within the government’s assassin programs. Although Aaron Cross’s backstory is a bit jumbled along the way, one can simply hope that things will be cleared up in future movies in a similar fashion as Jason Bourne’s was. Throughout the movie, Aaron’s motivations seem more along the lines of immediate self-preservation than moral dilemma or purpose, but Jeremey Renner does an excellent job of making you root for him.
In the words of Moby, “extreme ways are back again,” but whether or not that’s for the betterment of the franchise, we will just have to wait and see where this goes.