One thing The Bourne Legacy does wonderfully is putting the audience in the shoes of those corrupt CIA agents who are always trying to track down Jason Bourne, and how frustrating it is when he can’t found. As in, when you can’t find him in the entire movie. Like those CIA spooks, I wanted nothing more than to see Matt Damon car-chase himself onto the screen, even if for nothing more than a cameo. Fine, I admit I knew beforehand this wouldn’t be the case, but a fanboy can hope. Universal Pictures never intended Bourne to be in the movie, leading some (myself) to label this The Bourne Cash-In. What’s next, a Bond movie featuring Larry Nelson, agent 008?
Harsh? Probably. I’ve seen the (mostly) perfect original trilogy countless times, and I enjoyed the satisfying resolution, darn it. Back to that in a second, but the question everyone had going into the movie was,” how will this fit into the Bourne story?” The answer is: not very well.
I’ll put it out there- The Bourne Legacy is a good movie, just not a good Bourne movie. To be honest, the fact that it compares itself to a Bourne movie actually makes it worse. Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, and Rachel Weisz all give convincing performances, and the action scenes are well done. However, everything about the movie, from the cinematography to the pacing to the music, all feel “off.” Good grief, the soundtrack of any movie series/trilogy is what ties them all together. For example, the money monster known as Star Wars has common, John Williams-composed (or inspired) musical theme themes in all of its movies, video games, television shows, etc. With all these different interpretations out there, the musical style helps tie everything together and give the feeling that, yes, this is still in the same universe.
What do we get in this movie? A completely generic action soundtrack that is the polar opposite of the trilogy’s stringed themes. The Bourne character punching wolves, hearkening more to The Grey than any Bourne movie (Liam Neeson should have had Aaron Cross on his team). Gone without a memory (zing!) are the intricate amnesia plots, replaced instead with different colored pills. These gems apparently make agents super smart, super strong, or super berserk, depending on which color. I thought the film’s use of the last effect was the most out-there logically, as one character pulled a complete 180 and went crazy, but also in the way that the baddies wanted. But seriously, punching wolves.
The climax of the movie took me by surprise, mostly because I didn’t know I was watching the finale until it was over and the credits rolled. It featured a long, drawn-out chase with about twenty minutes of ultra-shaky camera work. The brief appearance of classic characters, along with a re-worked “Extreme Ways” by Moby, reminded the audience that they had just watched a Bourne movie, darn it. Seriously, when cameos from classic characters are some of the best moments, something’s wrong with your movie.
Will I watch the inevitable sequel? Of course. But only if Matt Damon co-stars with Renner. Come to think of it, that’s the only way I think Universal Pictures could justify this unnecessary sequel. Here’s hoping that they re-resolve everything they unresolved just to make a new plot.