Unfortunately, the titular Legacy in The Bourne Legacy looms just a little too large over screenwriter and director Tony Gilroy's sideways re-launch of the Bourne franchise. This comes after his longtime collaborators—director Paul Greengrass and, of course, star Matt Damon—left the series following 2007's megawatt shoot-out blockbuster The Bourne Ultimatum brought memory-challenged assassin Jason Bourne's arc full circle and set him free, like a caged animal finally let go into the wild.
Legacy introduces us to not just a new cast, but a whole other level of secretive bureaucracy that exists within the framework of the Bourne world. While Damon's character was brainwashed into becoming an intelligent and obedient killer for hire, star Jeremy Renner (the Oscar winner from 2009's tension trap The Hurt Locker) plays a naturally sluggish army vet who volunteered as willing subject of an experiment to alter his brain's chemistry to boost his intellect and his muscle recovery.
As Renner goes on the run to escape “the program” with the doctor who administered his meds and has just survived a bizarre workplace assault that killed all of her colleagues, Gilroy may have just crafted one of the greatest spin-offs of all-time. But that's a backhanded compliment, to be honest, like saying Jaws II is the greatest unnecessary sequel ever.
Legacy is a film that, much like Renner's stealthy spy Aaron Cross, is too often caught between a rock and a hard place. The picture spends too much time trying to weave it's first act into every nook and cranny of Ultimatum's climax, and when it's not doing that, it is feverishly laying groundwork for its own inevitable sequel. The result is an uneven film that resolves and evaporates before you even know it.
Legacy is at its best when it is it's own film, breathing fresh air as it does in an extended first act in which Cross is holed up in a remote mountain cabin with another operative until something wicked this way comes in the form of a remote-controlled drone. This section reminded me of the soon-forgotten George Clooney sniper drama The American, a slow-boil, European-style take on a thriller.
After the Alaska-set opening, the pace shift is perplexing, but there are enough thrilling chases—even if they are filled with a few “He really survived that?” moments that are in all the Bourne movies—and meaty performances—Rachel Weisz is particularly believable in two harrowing escape sequences, while Edward Norton does egghead angry and in charge better than anyone in the business—for Legacy to justify its existence. Just don't expect many answers. Those live somewhere further down this ever-expanding rabbit hole. Maybe a few of them, or even Matt Damon, will be in the sequel.
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These swimsuits will keep you stylish all summer long
Better Block BR
On Saturday the two blocks between Bedford and Beverly drives on April 13, 2013, residents will get to see a model of what Government Street could look like if we push local and state officials to update the roadway to a safer, more "complete street" model.