How many good Part 4’s can you remember? Between that, and knowing that the lead star isn’t taking part, you could be excused for thinking that The Bourne Legacy seems like a clunker from the outset. Words like “cash grab” and “desperation” come to mind. So it’s nice to settle in and realize the filmmakers have actually put some thought into this installment of the reliable spy franchise.
Jason Bourne, the amnesiac hero of the first three films, is only seen in photographs, though his presence is the catalyst for much of the action. The same black ops government program that turned Bourne into a conscience-free killing machine has other loose ends floating about, but the one we’re concerned with is Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner). Unlike Bourne, he’s happy to be in the program, but is forced to go on the run once the powers that be decide they have lost control and that everyone involved in the program must be eliminated. That’s when he teams up with a doctor (Rachel Weisz) who helped administer the program’s behavior-modifying drugs and now knows too much.
Between Renner, Weisz and an embarrassment of riches in the supporting cast — which includes Edward Norton, Stacy Keach, Scott Glenn, Zeljko Ivanek and cameos by Bourne regulars David Strathairn and Joan Allen — The Bourne Legacy is as high-quality as you could possibly expect from an action reboot. With original writer Tony Gilroy returning, while also taking on directing duties, the transition is fairly seamless, and Gilroy hasn’t forgotten how to inject character moments into all the car chases and quick-cutting fight scenes.
With so much story to get through, though, Legacy can’t help but feel more like the pilot of a promising TV series than a fully formed film. Thankfully, it’s a series you’d like to see continue.
The Bourne Legacy is available starting December 11 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
© 2013 Universal Studios