If Matt Damon was dead he’d be spinning in his grave. But get this - Paul Greengrass is alive and well and there have been reports of him finding a coffin-shaped hole, throwing himself into it and spinning round and round and round - ‘The Bourne Legacy’ just doesn’t work.
Damon, Greengrass (‘Supremacy’ and ‘Ultimatum’ director) and Doug Liman (‘Identity’ director) delivered perhaps one of the most satisfying trilogies of all time in ‘Identity’, ‘Supremacy’ and ‘Ultimatum’. So it was with great trepidation that I, along with thousands of others, approached the Damonless and Greengrass-free ‘Legacy’.
Within the first few minutes of ‘Legacy’, we learn that ‘Treadstone’ (the name of the project responsible for Jason Bourne) was just the tip of the secret service iceberg.It’s suggested that several other highly covert operations are in existence, with ‘Outcome’ being the most high profile.
‘Outcome’ is essentially a recruiting platform for the military’s most elite killing machines, of which Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner - pictured above - ‘The Hurt-Locker’, ‘The Town’ and ‘Avengers Assemble’) is one.
In a bid to contain the political shit-storm unleashed by Bourne’s antics in New York, secret service big shot Col. Eric Byer (Edward Norton - ‘American History X’, ‘Fight Club’ and ‘Primal Fear’) decides to shut down ‘Outcome’.
Now, when I say shut down, I don’t mean that all of ‘Outcome’s’ spies around the world are handed their P45s. One by one, Byer has all of the secret service operatives killed. But with the help of a scalpel, a wolf and a rather large explosion, Cross manages to escape.
Unlike Bourne, Cross needs ‘chems’ to maintain his superior physical and mental strength; without them he’ll revert back to being an average Joe.
After escaping the attempted assassination, Cross makes for the facility that has been providing him with his ‘chems’ only to learn that an employee there has conveniently flipped a lid and killed most of colleagues.
Lucky for Cross, one survived - enter stage right the reliably average Rachel Weisz (pictured left) as Dr. Marta Shearing. Let the cat and mouse games begin!
Tony Gilroy (‘Duplicity’ and ‘Michael Clayton’), who helped write the screenplay for the previous three Bourne movies, takes up the reigns from the evidently irreplaceable Paul Greengrass. And within the first hour of the film, I thought - why did they even bother with a fourth movie?
Renner is undoubtedly a talented actor - I thought he was the star of the show in the Ben Affleck directed ‘The Town’ - but no matter how hard he tries, he’s just not Matt Damon.
Damon’s Bourne may have been bereft of emotion but that’s what we liked about him. His ability to go from pragmatic to merciless in the blink of an eye was what made us crave more - I just couldn’t and didn’t feel the same way about Renner.
It’s easy to wave the finger at Renner and to be fair to the 41 year-old he does manage to attain a somewhat satisfying level of ‘ohhhss’ and ‘ahhhss’ when he’s breaking limbs and snapping vertebrae but again (through no fault of his own) he doesn’t have the edge of Damon.
‘Legacy’s’ script is certainly found wanting and Weisz’s transformation from quivering, lab-coat wearing virologist to foot-wielding sidekick is implausible to say the least.
The first two thirds of ‘Legacy’ are acceptable and at times entertaining but the movie’s finale is almost laughable.
It’s almost as if writers, Tony Gilroy and younger brother Dan, ran out of ideas and decided to replicate the Moroccan rooftop and motorbike street chase scene from ‘Ultimatum’.
Some might try and justify it by saying that the Gilroys steered close to what made ‘Ultimatum’ a success but even a screenwriting novice could have conjured up something a little more original.
The movie’s last half hour feels awfully rushed, which is a shame because the first hour felt overstated and laboured. Had Gilroy attained something more consistent then it would have most certainly helped.
Will a fifth movie happen? Only box office takings will determine the answer to that question. But one thing’s for sure, if a prequel does ensue, serious lessons have to be learned and learned quickly.
Verdict: 2/5 - ‘Legacy’ most definitely falls short of the mark set by the previous three Bourne movies and, unfortunately for Renner and Gilroy, it will forever reside in the shadows cast by Damon, Greengrass and Liman.