Movie Review | The Bourne Legacy
Except for a few still photographs and a couple of mentions of his name, Jason Bourne is AWOL in “The Bourne Legacy,” the fourth in Robert Ludlum’s espionage franchise. Director Tony Gilroy’s riveting thriller and Jeremy Renner’s compelling lead performance are so good that you actually don’t end up missing Bourne.
Treadstone, the shadowy black-ops CIA program that made Jason Bourne a human-killing machine, is in the government’s crosshairs. Disgraced CIA spymaster Pam Landy (Joan Allen) is about to go public, and other CIA brass are in a panic. The solution, says CIA operative Eric Byer (Edward Norton), is to liquidate the program — which means killing the other operatives who received the same training and viral genetic enhancement as Bourne.
The liquidation is successful except for one: Aaron Cross (Renner), out there in the Alaskan wilderness, who survives a drone strike and a pack of wolves. With his medication running low, Cross heads south to Langley, Virginia, where a doctor has shot up the laboratory doing the CIA’s genetic research. He finds the lab’s only survivor, Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), before more CIA agents clean up the mess and finish her off, too.
In a stroke of cold reality, the story is structured so that Cross never meets the people who have ordered his death. Renner’s Cross is constantly on the run, while Byer and his thinly identified CIA co-horts work amid walls of video screens in an airless control room.
Renner and Weisz make an entertaining action-movie odd couple, the terse man of action and the chatty scientist who learns fast how to react when the shooting starts. Their pairing is especially effective in the climactic chase through the streets of Manila. “The Bourne Legacy” gives this strong series a powerfully fresh spin.