Tony Gilroy had been behind all the movies in the Bourne
series prior to The Bourne Legacy
, so it was a relief to see he would also pen the latest chapter. Conversely he's had less experience in the director's chair, but there were three other films to act as adequate how-to guides so the worry could be minimized. In the end the film has its issues, but it's still an enjoyable addition to the franchise.
Occurring in parallel with The Bourne Ultimatum
, audiences are shown the much vaster consequences of Jason Bourne's defiance. After the CIA weighs its options, it decides the best choice is to shut down the Treadstone program and destroy any incriminating evidence - breathing or otherwise. Unwilling to be listed as collateral damage, subject 5, a.k.a. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), does everything he can to evade the clean-up crew. In addition, he must eliminate his reliance on the agency by getting rid of his need for the medication they supply. To do so, he rescues Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) from impending death. In exchange for keeping her alive, he requests her help with the scientific element of his plan.
In true Bourne
tradition, Cross is faster, smarter and more durable than the average human. He is constantly one step ahead of his pursuers and able to outrun them if a misstep allows them to get too close. Unlike Bourne, he's also fully aware of his situation with contingency plans in place in case, as with many government covert operations, things went south. He's harder and less forgiving in most situations, and he's quite adept on a motorcycle.
However, moving away from the main protagonist thus far, Gilroy seems to have felt the need for an extensive character introduction. Cross spends the first hour of the film being chased by hungry wolves and asking questions of another operative, demonstrating his skill and black sheep status. Combined with the governments disturbing cost analysis, the first shootout does not occur until almost the halfway point of the film. And then it becomes the thrilling cat-and-mouse chase to which audiences have become accustomed.
Renner makes an exciting, if not as charming, action hero. He's great at delivering deadpan humour under dark circumstances and more than capable of meeting the physical demands of the role. Even with the long introduction though, little is known about Aaron Cross and it’s difficult to connect to his character. Edward Norton is a new addition to the franchise, playing the cold and calculating bureaucrat not afraid to make the tough calls. There are also several familiar faces among the office dwellers who oversee the program, including Joan Allen as whistleblower Pam Landy.
The crossover between this instalment and the last mean those unfamiliar with the story will likely be lost. On the other hand, for the previously initiated, it makes the narrative more significant and several aspects of the movie more interesting. There are undeniable problems with the first extension of the franchise (surprisingly, most of them pertain to the script), but there is potential for more, even better, adventures.
Director: Tony Gilroy
Starring: Jeremy Renner
, Rachel Weisz
and Edward Norton