Iím getting older. This is becoming inherently clear in my assessment and understanding of some of the more popular and successful films in recent years. Movies such as Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises were huge summer blockbusters, of that, there is no debate. But both films had me scratching my head during plot developing scenes desperate to connect dots that were not overtly apparent to my aging eyes. These lapses in understanding did not deter me from appreciating both films in their full capacity. But quick conversations with friends outside the theatre directly after the screening were required in an effort to help talk me down from my frustrated ledge. These friends are going to be called upon again this week in my effort to help piece together the complexities of The Bourne Legacy, the new film by Tony Gilroy that continues on from the Matt Damon trilogy that ended with The Bourne Ultimatum (2007).
In this fourth installment of the popular Robert Ludlum books, we get introduced to Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) who seems to have the same skills and unfortunate management corruption that dogged Matt Damonís Jason Bourne character for years.
Cross is one of six agents part of a program called Outcome and they have been developed and trained by the Department of Defense. The program was built by Eric Byer (Edward Norton) and when a video is released on YouTube and a report of a Jason Bourne sighting in New York, it is Byer that tries to shut down the project and have the highly skilled members of eradicated.
This part of the story, I was more or less able to following along with the bouncing balls. But The Bourne Legacy also goes all sci-fi on us with Cross having to take blue and green pills to function. When Cross escapes an attempt on his life, he then teams up with medical researcher Dr. Martha Shearing (Rachel Weisz) in an attempt to secure more of the colored pills. The couple find themselves dodging bullets in an endless cat-and-mouse game throughout at least two countries as they attempt to Öwell, I donít know exactly what they are attempting.
There were many issues that we had with The Bourne Legacy. There were too many locations (over 10) too many characters (those with parts both big and small in Legacy include Norton, Scott Glenn, Stacey Keach, Zeliko Ivanek, Albert Finney, David Strathairn and Joan Allen) and a plot that was hardly involving and then just stops on a dime for the end credits.
Even if we were to strip away everything about The Bourne Legacy that we couldnít quite figure out and attempt to enjoy the film purely on the action entertainment value, we were still left feeling empty. Renner proves that he is indeed an action star and the chemistry he shares Weisz is clearly on display, but when the bullets started flying and the characters started running, the uninspired action sets and sequences induced yawns instead of cheers.
The Bourne Legacy is still no Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Itís a nice companion piece to the superior trilogy and is at least watchable Ė even if incomprehensible. And there are so many references to the Jason Bourne character and movies in the fourth one, you canít help but reflect back on the greatness of its predecessors and how the legacy has been tarnished.