"Jason Bourne was just the tip of the iceberg...."
Universal / 135 Minutes / 2012 / Rated PG-13 / Street Date: December 11, 2012
Like so many of the non-Ludlum sequels and spinoffs of The Bourne Identity in prints, The Bourne Legacy is never bad, but it fails to develop into anything more than a steady simmer. There are a lot of elements that serve the movie's reboot feel quite well, but even with a rock-solid supporting cast and a ready-and-eager Jeremy Renner in the driver's seat, The Bourne Legacy offers up some fun set pieces, but ends up dissolving on impact.
Director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) wants to bring Bourne back to basics here by framing his tale of super-spies with top-secret physiological weaknesses with a simple, single-file storytelling technique, but this act does as much good as bad. The Bourne Legacy moves along steadily - it's never not engaging - but at the end of it, one is left with some head-scratching unanswered questions. It's the kind of film that entertains enough while it's running through a projector, but the minute end credits start rolling, the whole thing starts to slant.
My main issue with the movie is what I can only call its 'midichlorian factor'. Stay with me. The Bourne Legacy focuses on the dangers of exposure - the covert operations that train spies is in danger of becoming public knowledge, and therefore open targets - but at the center of these mine fields is the fact that agents like Aaron Cross (Renner) have been genetically enhanced in order to be the supermen they are. This means, unfortunately, that if they don't take their special spy pills every couple hours, they bite the dust.
There is definitely action here, and if you squint, The Bourne Legacy makes for a fine franchise actioner, but turning folks like Jason Bourne or Aaron Cross into cyborgs of a sort is a dramatic error. Just like Lucas and those damned midichlorians (nobody needs a high count to be a Jedi, right?), in converting the agile supermen of Ludlum's original trilogy into drug-reliant zombies, Gilroy has atom-bombed the core of his basic story. The Bourne Legacy works, I suppose, but the argument could be made that Gilroy and company have Lance Armstrong-ed the thing, and that's a shame.