Director: Tony Gilroy
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach, Oscar Isaac
Plot: After the events of Ultimatum, Colonel Byer (Norton) is tasked with shutting down other black book operations, including murdering the assets.
Legacy is the black sheep of the Bourne franchise. Its main problem is the sense it is trying to kick-start a infinite timeline for the Bourne series, a future that isn’t tied to Matt Damon. There is an argument this is possible, especially after the introduction of Blackbriar in the Bourne trilogy. Treadstone might be shut down, but there will always be one sinister government official who is tempted to relaunch a program involving assassins. Replace the hero of Bourne with another equally dangerous assassin and there is the foundation for a continuing series. The problem is simply the Bourne trilogy set a standard. A standard Legacy failed to live up to.
In some ways, it does a lot right. Renner is a capable action hero and by foregoing the amnesia plot-line, he is able to deliver a more honest performance. Damon was held back by the fact his character was learning information as fast as the audience were. Renner is able to explore the conscience of his assassin character, perhaps playing to the side of the story where he partially agrees with the program. Bourne is horrified at his past actions; Renner is merely acting out of a sense of survival. He can also fight with the best of them. Coming straight from several films that required him to flex his action hero muscles, Legacy has a competent fighter. Throw in several talented supporting cast members and we have an impressive line-up. That being said, few might be dissuaded that Norton is stuck behind a desk, as per usual with the Bourne movies, and Rachel Weisz is far more talented than the damsel role suggest she is. However, they do the best with what they have, giving life after Damon the best attempt they can muster. Sadly, Legacy just strikes the audience as an impression of Bourne, rather than a Bourne movie in its own right. Norton’s stereotype feels like someone checking off a box in the Bourne trademark list. The conspiracy angle has been played out so many times in the last three films that the writers seem to be just throwing story ideas into a pot, rather than tackling a script holistically. You end up missing Greengrass. The pace is up and down. One midway scene where Weisz is approached by a suspicious team of government officials drags too long. Gilroy just cannot direct like Greengrass. Greengrass knows when to hold a shot for just a moment longer to give the audience that kicks of adrenaline. Gilroy cuts too soon. It feels like little things to condemn, but, all jokes aside, they are the Identity of the Bourne movies. Legacy just feels like a B Movie fan film.
Okay, that’s a little harsh, perhaps. The final third is enough to earn forgiveness. The conspiracy is forgotten, giving way for an action sequence in the Philippines that is the Bourne we were waiting for. Renner takes on an asset and several local authorities in a gripping chase sequence. In many ways, everything else in the Bourne movies were salad dressing anyway. The meat of the series is replicated with enough precision to entertain here. Squint and we see the Bourne films of before.
Final Verdict: There is little to suggest that Bourne needed a life outside of Damon. Good enough, for what it’s worth.
My biggest thing with Legacy is that it is not necessarily a bad film, but should not fall part of the Bourne franchise. It could have been its own thing and not tried to join itself so closely with Bourne, and it would have been seen in a much better light. Oh well.