Not so much a bad movie as it is an unnecessary and unoriginal one, The Bourne Legacy is to the magnificent original trilogy what microwaved leftovers are to a home-cooked meal: the ingredients are still there, but it's not nearly as enjoyable as it was when it was fresh. It's a real shame, too, because the first hour of the film is very promising, expanding the Bourne universe and giving us a story that occurs parallel to last film's events. Pulling back the curtain to see who was really pulling the strings behind the last trilogy while giving us a compelling new hero and some intense action scenes, it seems for a time that Legacy is going to firmly establish itself as its own animal, related to the other films but not overly reliant on them.
Sadly, it drifts into routine from there, with story beats and character interactions that are all too familiar, giving audiences only what they've seen before, but done far better the first time around. This film plays mostly like a knockoff of The Bourne Identity, with a heart-of-gold assassin on the run with an innocent woman while corrupt officials send another assassin to take them out. The only difference is that writer/director Tony Gilroy substitutes memory loss (which made Damon's character vulnerable and gave the series a compelling sense of mystery) with the gimmick of biochemically-enhanced assassins (think a more “realistic” version of Captain America‘s super-soldier program).
Too bad The Bourne Legacy plays it safe, because there's some terrific moments, both in terms of acting and action. The cast is stellar: Edward Norton is always excellent, Rachel Weisz is a fine actress, and Jeremy Renner (The Avengers; Mission Impossible- Ghost Protocol) has the charm, intensity, humanity, and physicality to be a Grade-A action star. They all deserve better than Matt Damon's sloppy seconds.
CONTENT OVERVIEW:The Bourne Legacy is rated PG-13. Like the previous films, it contains plentiful action violence and some language (no f-words that I could hear, however). The hero may or may not break a man's neck in a fight scene (it's unclear). A workplace shooting scene is prolonged, realistic, and terrifying; it's especially chilling in light of the recent shootings in Aurora, Colorado. There is no nudity or sexuality. Reliance on medications is a recurring plot point.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: There are corrupt people in high places who must be challenged. While some medications are helpful and even necessary, unhealthy dependence can compromise our free will.
Licensed marriage and family therapist. Husband. Father. Film critic.