Can a Bourne action-adventure succeed without Jason Bourne? That’s the hope behind this continuation of the popular espionage series – minus Matt Damon. After the franchise, including “The Bourne Identity,” “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum,” grossed nearly $1 billion worldwide, the filmmakers, including director Paul Greengrass, simply ran out of story ideas. But why stop milking the cash cow?
So writer/director Tony Gilroy (“Michael Clayton”), who wrote scripts for all three previous films, concocts a different device. Collaborating with his brother Dan, he expands the Bourne mythos that was originally created by best-selling author Robert Ludlum back in the 1980s. His new protagonist is Aaron Cross, played by Jeremy Renner (“The Hurt Locker,” “The Town,” “The Avengers”), who joins a highly secretive national-security program.
It helps to be acquainted with the Bourne background, including Bourne’s attempts at making public the covert Treadstone and Blackbriar operations. As a result of his most recent debacle, retired military officials (Edward Norton, Stacy Keach) decide to terminate a third program, called Operation Outcome, which went a step further than its predecessors by attempting to pharmacologically enhance its field agents. Aaron Cross is one of those operatives who are being hunted, as is Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), a neuroscientist who helped administer the experimental drugs and goes on the run with him. Cross’s mission is to make his ‘super soldier’ enrichments permanent so he can end his reliance on obtaining meds.
Problem is: this is such an obvious ploy to revive the Bourne-again legend which began when Jason Bourne woke up with amnesia and was forced to find out who’s trying to kill him and why. Although he’s also a government target, the character of Aaron Cross simply lacks the same emotional resonance, although Joan Allen, Albert Finney, David Strathairn and Scott Glenn reprising their supporting roles.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Bourne Legacy” is a black-ops 6 – with several other Ludlum adaptations in development, including “The Janson Directive,” “The Parcifal Mosaic,” “The Osterman Weekend” and “The Matarese Circle”