The Bourne Legacy (2012)

This guy can diffuse bombs. What can you do, Jason?

Everything that happened to Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), is pretty much all lost now and brought back onto to this new CIA agent, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner). He just so happens to be on the run, and everybody at Treadstone is going wild all over again because of this. Typical.

Many people have been dreading this film ever since the day that Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass both said, “no”, to doing another Bourne flick, let alone, another sequel when they ended it off so well with The Bourne Ultimatum. And as much as I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to this like as much as everybody else on the planet, I still got to give it to this franchise and say that it still has some steam left, even if it’s without the constant “crack-cam”. You heard it here first, people.

Writer/director Tony Gilroy (who worked on the early Bourne films) shows that he wasn’t really going for the same-old formula that somehow worked it’s magic, for three movies, but seem to be a little too tired for a fourth one. Instead, this guy gives us a pretty tense ride that may have you almost forget about Bourne, about half-way through (even though Gilroy brings him up about every 10 minutes, just by flashing his pictorial up on-screen). I will say that it does take it’s good-old time to get started up, but once the adrenaline starts picking-up, and the blood starts to flow, this film doesn’t seem to really want to stop, which I don’t think I ever wanted it to.

Since there is no “crack-cam” in this film, that means we can actually tell what’s going down in the action sequences, whether it be hand-to-hand brawls, knife-fights, guns-a-blasing battles, or the simple car-chase, you can actually see everything that’s going on and I have to say that’s a bit of a big-step up for this franchise, since it seemed like Greengrass used that a bit too much with the last entry. Did I miss some of the elements where we were practically on Damon’s tail as he was flying through ceilings and windows? Yes, but it wasn’t like I was in the corner sobbing over this, because I actually found myself to be having a lot of fun with what Gilroy did with this story and this action. Gilroy is a very talented film-maker and I would have never thought he’d be able to make such an exciting action-picture, let alone, a Bourne one.

But as fun and exciting as Gilroy made this film, there was still a lot of the conventions that we got from those Bourne films that came before this, and I thought since Gilroy seemed to be one-step ahead of the crowd that we wouldn’t get the same shit. Sadly, we did. Franka Potente-like damsel in distress? Check. Lots of undercover CIA dudes yelling at computer-screens? Check. Par-cor on buildings? Check. And my least favorite: top assassin out to kill target? Major check. I don’t know what it is about that last one convention that bothers me so much but it seems like it’s the one that they use in all of these flicks and think that it’s going to make us think differently about the fate of them or their target, but it never changes.

My next real beef with this film is how abruptly it ends, which bothered me more than anything else in this movie because I was having a real ball here. What I liked most about the last 30 minutes of this movie is how it just continued to build-up, and up, and up, until it finally just left me with one big-ass car chase through the streets of Manilla that is sure worth the price of admission alone. It also didn’t occur to me that this was actually, the last 30 minutes of the entire movie because once the story actually seems like it’s getting somewhere with itself, seems like it’s going to get better, and seems like Gilroy is really going to be pulling out all of the stops, that freakin’ song by Moby just kicks in and then we get the credits rolling. I honestly thought that this film would have gone on longer, and even though it’s the longest of the whole franchise with a time-limit of 135 minutes, it didn’t feel like that at all. In fact, it just whizzed right on by, which is not necessarily as much of a negative, as it is a positive, but I think about 20 more minutes would have made things a tad bit better for my taste. Then again, it’s just my taste and I’m a dick-head so don’t listen to me.

One element to this film that has people the most curious is how it will do without the presence of Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. The answer to that is, pretty fine, especially when you have Jeremy Renner playing a bad-ass character, that’s a bit different from Bourne in more ways than I expected. Right from the first couple of scenes, we see that this Aaron Cross guy is actually a bit more content with his line of work that he does, unlike Bourne, and actually remembers his past, unlike Bourne, as well. But he also has a lot of personality where we see him act a bit more talkative and jokey towards other people he meets and encounters, and it gives you a sense that this is a real guy, that is just caught-up in all of the wrong shit but he has no one else to blame but himself. This role is perfect for Renner because he not only gets to show-off, once again, how much of a tough-ass guy he can be, but also show that he can make any generic action-hero, seem a bit more complex just by adding a likable personality onto him. Renner was a great choice for Cross, and I actually look forward to seeing what he can do with this character in the near-future, if they ever give him that chance, that is.

Rachel Weisz is also perfect for the role of the scientist that Cross comes around to sweep her away from danger, Dr. Marta Shearing. Weisz is such a lovable actress that it makes it a lot easier to buy this very generic character that seems to be a staple in these types of thrillers, but the difference here is that this girl actually seems like she has real-feelings and the feelings she may, or may not have for Cross come out perfectly in their chemistry that I would like to see worked on in the future installments. Then again, it all depends my people. Edward Norton is fine as the main dude that is orchestrating this whole hunt for Cross because he does what he can with a guy that seems so two-dimensional, but it’s almost like I expected him to just lash-out at everyone, every chance he got. Maybe it’s just that I think Norton deserves better roles, in better movies sometimes, but I think he could have been used a lot better here and should have gotten just more than one scene to show his true colors. Also, was it me or did anybody else feel terribly distracted when Norton and Stacy Keach were in the same scene? I kept on getting flash-backs to Vineyard just kicking the shit out of Cameron Alexander and I think that’s what Norton’s character here would have benefited from in all honesty. If only Hollywood allowed to polish more scripts.

Consensus: The Bourne Legacy features fine performances from this ensemble, plenty of action that will excite, and offers us a new franchise that will hopefully meet up with it’s old one that came before it, but it’s also very similar to that old one and that déjà vu feeling may be a bit too much for some viewers, as it sort of was for me.



  1. Glad you found something to celebrate in this movie. If you read my review, wow, we’re polar opposite.

  2. Great review, I also was harder on this movie but I agree with all of your assesments except for the Crack cam one (I actually felt like there was more of that this time around in some scenes, but maybe I need to go back and watch the originals again)

    I like that you mentioned the abrupt ending, I know they wanted to leave it off like the first Bourne movie with the two leads on the run in a tropical location because they’re hoping for another trilogy, but it didn’t work for me.

    Lastly though, one of the reasons I didn’t like the inclusion of the other assassin was that if he was part of the program then why wasn’t he taken out with the others? “But he was Treadstone without the inconsistancy” then why didn’t they just give a whole bunch of spies the same treatment as him if the morality issue was the thing holding them back. Idk, I try not to let logical falacies like this bog me down but when there’s as much focus on government programs and conspiracies like this its hard not to

    Anyways I’ll be posting my review soon, probably going with a 5.5 Cheers 🙂

    • You make some very good points here bud! I gotta say that not a lot here bothered me, except for the obvious conventions and ending, and I look forward to where they take this story.

  3. [SPOILERS] I am in full agreement with you about the ending. I felt like the movie had just gotten started because the beginning was so damn long. The chase scene is fantastic and then bang! Moby is playing! I seriously thought it was a joke, like Gilroy was toying with us. For me, it amounted to just running. Bourne ran with purpose. Not a bad film and yes, I agree with you as well that they have somewhere to build from which is impressive for a fourth film, but I’m not sure this is a legacy Gilroy will be proud of just yet.

    • I hear ya! I look forward to what they can do with this but Gilroy better not pull his shit again like he did here. That ending really ticked me off.

  4. I’m with Sam on this one, everything you liked I disliked and vice versa. What made this a 6/10 instead of 5 was the exchanges in the CIA with Edward Norton and Stacy Keach. Too bad they didn’t spend more time on the how to catch them and develop more characters instead of a half hour chase that became tiresome. Still liked your review wven as we have opposite takes 🙂

    • At least you got what I was saying. I don’t know what it was about this film that just allowed me to have a good time and look forward to what this story can develop into. Thanks!

  5. I’m not a fan of this movie. There wasn’t enough action and I didn’t think the chemistry between Renner and Weisz was any good. There were a few other things, but my complaints would have me writing another review about this movie.

  6. Hey Dan!
    I first just wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog awhile back when you left that comment on the Savages review. My friend/guest blogger Frank Venuto actually did that review for Savages. I just posted his review for The Dark Knight Rises, so feel free to stop by and check it out!

    I love action flicks, but I somehow missed the whole Bourne franchise. It’s probably because I have never been a big fan of Matt Damon, which I think is kind of funny since it has only been recently that I am starting to warm up to him. I liked him in Adjustment Bureau, Hereafter, and We Bought a Zoo.

    Anyway, I really like Jeremy Renner (ever since I saw him in The Town), and that is one of the main reasons why I wanted to check out Bourne Legacy. I haven’t had the time to check it out yet, but I am assuming I don’t need to see the other films in order to understand this one?

    Thank you for the great review. I think you explained everything nicely without giving away spoilers. I’m a big fan of Edward Norton as well and I agree– why isn’t this guy getting better parts???

    I recently had a chance to go to an advance screening of Lawless starring Tom Hardy, Shia Labeouf, Jessica Chastain, Gary Oldman, and Guy Pearce. It was amazing! I hope to have my review of it posted up on my blog within the next 2 weeks. I’ll let you know once it is posted!

    Anyway, I’ll be back to check out more of your reviews soon, especially Killer Joe.
    Mia @ The Muses Circle

  7. i loved weisz and norton here too, as well as renner (who is definitely the second best person for this role, if we can’t get damon). while it did get tiring at times as you pointed out, i liked the pace of the second half and i also like the necessary explanation of the new character that the beginning had.

  8. It was slow to start but I guess they were setting up for this character. I liked how they used the two movies to overlap though. Didn’t like this as much as the others although I know everybody was talented and gave their best. Better next time.

    • They all did great jobs and I hope they continue with this story because I feel like it could get very interesting for them all from here on.

  9. I’m going to see TBL next weekend and I have only heard universal criticism in comparison to the original trilogy which was absolutely sublime. Sounds like merely a money-making exercise by dredging up a story which had nicely concluded and shoved in a new guy and an anaemic plot.

  10. Nice. Always nice to see eye to eye more or less. 😀

    I think this one was decent, but like you say, most of the best parts are mimicking the original trilogy. LOL. I do hope we get Bourne 5 though, especially if it unites Renner’s character with Damons! 😀

  11. Nice review, Dan! My main issue was with the pacing and not enough focus on Cross, but the performances kept me interested. I still kind of wish they would have continued the story with Renner taking over as Bourne, but what they did opens up a lot of possibilities if they decide to do another.

    • Thanks Erik! They opened up plenty of ideas and possibilities and I think that’s what has me the most intrigued. I can’t wait to see what they do with this story and if it just becomes another case with Bourne, or something a lot cooler.

  12. I completely agree with your analysis of Jeremy Renner in this role. You’re right on! And yeah, the movie sure didn’t feel like I was watching for as long as it was. Now I really look forward to the next installment and finding out more about Aaron Cross and how his past influences his future.

  13. Great review! I loved Jeremy Renner, and the fact that his character was slightly more human than Bourne. But I was also struck by that sudden ending; up until that point I didn’t really realize that they had no “ultimate goal.” Getting the meds really felt like it should have been the halfway point, followed by a cool fight with the other baddie, followed by…. something. Something bigger than just getting a shot.

    Didn’t that feel a little too easy? I thought it could have been more dramatic if we’d actually SEEN some of the ‘danger’ of being off the blue pill for too long. And then Weisz just magically makes this viral cure in 30 minutes? Why didn’t they do that years ago, or when they did the same for the green pill?

    Just made the trip to Manila seem like it wasn’t a big enough challenge to be the focus of a movie.

  14. Found myself nodding with a lot of what you’ve written here, but I think you enjoyed it a bit more than I did. The build up was just too slow and then the pay off was too short. It felt like a remake of Identity for me.

    Renner was great. The saving grace of the film, right from the beginning. But by the end I just felt like going home and reassuring myself of the Bourne franchise by watching Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum again.

  15. Dan, what did I tell you about this movie? I told you that this movie was going to be meh. It was for me. It was slow. It was like Spider Man for me. It was a blatant cash grab. Leave well enough alone.

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