The Bourne Legacy is not a bad movie. It is, however, a movie without any meat. It’s appetizer and soup without the main dish. And if it were in fact a main dish, it gives us only a single bite before the whole plate is taken unceremoniously away from the table. Yet the bite quenches our stomachs and we ponder, as the taste lingers, of how delicious it could have been if only we were given the whole plate to eat.
You see, it suffers from an abrupt ending. Just when I thought the story just started, the credits rolled in.
The movie introduces us to Aaron Cross. As the film opens, we see Cross in Alaskan training ground, diving into a river, being hunted by a pack of wolves and leaping over snowy rocky mountains. We learn that he is a member of Operation Outcome, a black ops program which involves modifying the human genome for incredible physical and mental ability. They do this by letting their operatives take little blue and green pills (‘chems’) every couple of hours. Operation Outcome, however, is threatened by the public exposure of the Blackbriar program by Jason Bourne. To address this, Outcome is closed down and everyone connected to it gets a death sentence. The fourth Bourne movie is essentially a man who needs his medicines (or his fix by viralling out) and tries to get it while being hunted down by his own agency.
At this point, it is important to take note what the guy is not: he is not Jason Bourne, he is not Jason Bourne without the amnesia, he is not Blackbriar and he is not Treadstone. The film takes pains to remind us of these from time to time. The story is a ramification which was set into motion by the actions of Jason Bourne. Aaron Cross is not Robert Ludlum’s rogue masterspy, but like his predecessor, he isn’t a superhero either. He gets hurt when someone hits him, he goes down when someone shoots him, and like every other human being in the planet, he doubles over when a virus is injected into his system. I don’t know how Ludlum would have reacted to the enhancers, but I do know that he has always intended his characters to be just human beings capable of feeling pain. While Aaron Cross may not be his creation, I feel like this aspect of him stayed true to Ludlum’s… ‘character vision’.
While the story itself is a bit uninspired, the film benefits from the performance of its two main leads. Jeremy Renner gives a magnetic performance as the enhanced ex-agent and embraces Aaron Cross as his own. The man can act, he’s likable in his role and he is indeed, Aaron Cross. Rachel Weisz holds her own strongly as Dr. Marta Shearing, a PhD geneticist. For the past few years the two of them has met thirteen times in the laboratory (he counted), he has flirted with her whilst on camera, and the movie isn’t shy at showing their attraction. Who knew Renner and Weisz has chemistry? They were actually… sweet. In a film which sadly failed to exploit Edward Norton’s full potential as CIA hunter Eric Byer, both Renner and Weisz stands as its saving grace.
I’m not saying the movie is a disgrace to the Bourne franchise because it is not. But while it has its own story to tell and it tells it, it just doesn’t quite deliver. It may have been an uninspired story but it had potential. In food metaphor: it was a tasty bite, but as a meager one bite from a delicious dish would have it, it’s not enough. Imagine my shock when after that very long motorcycle chase the scene cuts to a boat, a meaningful look between Aaron and Marta and – poof! – the credits rolls in. It’s like yanking the dishes away from the table just after everything has been set and everyone has sat down. Maybe they could have trimmed down the chase scenes (they were unnecessarily long, and maybe badly edited because I didn’t get the whole picture) and spared us the genetic mutation crash course (the public doesn’t speak genetic science) to give more time for a decent conclusion.
Yes, I know there’s a sequel to this. The final scene doesn’t fail to promise us that. With six more books to go, the Bourne franchise is here to stay. While I may have not read Eric Van Lustbader’s Bourne books (Legacy, Sanction, Deception, Objective, Dominion and Imperative) I very much hope the franchise doesn’t overextend its welcome. I love Jason Bourne, in fact Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity is my most favorite novel of all time. While the films didn’t quite turn out as how I initially thought they would be, I do hope that the quality of the remaining Bourne films would live up to the reputation of its original source material.
Perhaps in the next film Jason Bourne and Aaron Cross meet, team up and take down the CIA together a la Avengers: Master Spies Edition… An interesting concept. I don’t know how it would work, but the thought would be enough to make me watch it.
(P.S.: Did you know Jeremy Renner CAN sing? The man sure has an amazing voice…
And is he gay??)
/ I’ve been running around trying to bring down the CIA /
/ They won’t leave me alone. I’m not Treadstone. Gotta get away /
/ You know I’m gonna shoot somebody / Someone like youuu. /