For a character that never actually makes an appearance in the film, Jason Bourne sure is a present figure in “The Bourne Legacy.” Matt Damon’s boyish headshot stares out into the audience from piles of papers and documents, while suits and ties carry on about “Jason Bourne this” and “Jason Bourne that.”
Apparently, Jason Bourne has left a lot of messes to clean up—one of them being “The Bourne Legacy” itself.
This is an infuriating movie. In many ways, it’s a convoluted footnote to the extremely intricate trilogy expertly lifted from Robert Ludlum novels, where Matt Damon played the title amnesiac and was able to participate in his story arc while kicking tail at the same time. Remember when he took a guy out with a magazine?
“The Bourne Legacy” seeks only to continue a story that need not be continued by creating one that need not be created. The film is chockfull with tedious exposition tying everything back to Jason Bourne, and after a while I became extremely jealous of Matt Damon for managing to escape this franchise and I desperately wished to join him.
I was even tempted to go home and revisit the first three ‘Bourne’ films, back-to-back-to-back, a multi-hour affair that I feel would probably pass quicker and feel more entertaining than “The Bourne Legacy” manages to be in its grueling 125 minutes.
I am just completely taken aback at how little happens in this movie. A collection of suits in back rooms—led by Edward Norton, whose performance would have been greatly improved had he worn his “Moonrise Kingdom” khaki scouts uniform—endlessly debate the aftermath of Jason Bourne and decide to terminate their “program participants.”
These participants, chemically manipulated through blue and green pills called “Chems,” are taken out, yet one remains—Aaron Cross, played by Jeremy Renner, who survives his attempted termination and sets a course to become an action hero because, well, the movie requires him to.
But here’s the thing; Aaron Cross barely becomes an action hero until just before the movie appallingly cuts to credits, an act which escalates the movie’s blatant incompleteness to laughable plateaus. The film ends with a lengthy rooftop, car, and motorcycle chase that would have fit perfectly at the midpoint of any action movie. Only problem here is that it’s the second to last scene in the movie.
So anybody expecting resolution should steer clear of a movie that stands polar opposite against everything its three predecessors aimed to do. Swapping smart for stupid, elaborate for silly, “The Bourne Legacy” meanders along with a very few scenes of life scattered tragically along a 125 stretch of nothingness.
In the end, you’ll just feel cheated. The movie is mere setup for a blatant attempt at another ‘Bourne’ franchise, and concludes just as its story seems prepared to actually become exciting. But no, the movie just decides to aggravate rather than entertain—conjuring up memories of the fantastic trilogy that preceded it and then stomping all over them.
Congratulations. The ‘Bourne’ trilogy now has its “Phantom Menace.”
Greg Vellante is a film critic for The Eagle Tribune.