When is a Bourne film not a Bourne film? That’s the question I find myself asking when watching the next installment of the Jason Bourne franchise. The answer it appears, when the lead character not in it. Since Paul Greengrass warped things up previously with Ultimatum, the studios were still cooking up ideas for a sequel. With neither Greengrass or Matt Damon on board, we now have Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), an agent working with a separate branch called Outcome. However Bournes actions in the previous installment compromises the top secret programs in connecton, forcing Eric Byer (Edward Norton) to eliminate all operatives involved, leaving Cross on the run.
Legacy takes it’s time to get moving, more than necessary. As the new characters are introduced and a new plot is developed, it wastes time with the events of the previous film and over sells the reasoning of why we are not watching the further adventures of Jason Bourne. It is a shame, as this slows the pace down. Instead of cracking on with the action, we are stuck in a room for about 20 minutes of the running time, with shady government types, as they explain all the connections that link up with Matt Damon. Still, as it stands, Renner is a fine choice to lead. Walking straight of Mission: Impossible and The Avengers, he proves to be more than capable as an action hero. Hooked on a drug that enhances his abilities, Cross needs a fix. So he runs to the aid of Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), a scientist working for Outcome who is in the same predicament of being rubbed out. Weisz does a believable turn as someone who is pushed out of their depth, while being both confused and scared. Directed by Tony Gilroy who has been involved through out the series, plays it straight and confident. Lacking in the trademark handheld shaky cam, it misses the energy that made the Greengrass films exciting. That said, things pick up when Renner gets to fight wolfs, shoot down drones and generally beat people up. Norton is a perfect choice a shadowy head facing a wall of screens. Using his monotone delivery as he orders colleagues to their deaths for the sake of the government. However, he feels lost and underused amongst the bags exposition.
So what does this mean for the future? Will Mat Damon return and team up with Cross? Do we care? Gilroy & Co should have had more faith in their convictions and just told a different story, but in a same universe. The Bourne Legacy is a perfectly fine 95 minute triller. It’s a pity that it’s running time is 2 hours 15..