Expectations are important when considering whether to patronize a franchise be it a food joint or entertainment vehicle. One expects the same burger whether one is in Las Vegas, London or Luxemburg; familiarity breeds contentment. The fourth installment of the Bourne series understands expectations and makes sure they are met in The Bourne Legacy. So if you liked the first three films in the series, you’ll likely like this one as it essentially is the same movie as the ones with some minor variations. In fact, it most closely resembles the first of the series The Bourne Identity.
Jason Bourne, played by Matt Damon, is only referenced here, as the film takes place a little bit after he wreaked havoc and exposed Trendstone. Of course, there always have been several super agents in the program and in this movie we meet another one—Aaron Cross, played by Jeremy Renner. Unlike Damon’s Bourne, who begins the series attempting to figure out who he is, Cross knows who he is—he wants to stay that way.
The plot hardly matters here—it’s the chase that’s important. As a result of Bourne’s exposing the program, it needs to be expunged. And, well, Cross is part of the program and so begins the chase.
Directing this one and a screenwriter on all the films, Tony Gilroy, meets all the basic ingredients of the Bourne series. Totally badass protagonist, with a strong moral compass repeatedly outwits a far superiorly equipped, foreboding and furtive government agency. Check. An attractive women, Dr. Marta Shearing, played by Rachel Weisz, is forced to team up with Cross to save her life, but in the process falls in love with him. Check. Nefarious bureaucrats played effectively by Edward Norton and Stacey Keach justify killing their own agents with some spurious ethics to “protect national security.” Norton’s retired Col. Byer tells Cross in a flashback that what they do is “morally indefensible and absolutely necessary.” Check. Intense, implausible, documentary-style chase scenes through a crowded foreign city. Check. A totally badass super-agent is deployed to stop “the threat,” but is dispatched after the aforementioned chase sequence. Check. And an ending so reminiscent of the first film’s ending, I almost certainly know how the next one will begin. Check.
As I mentioned, there are some minor changes here, the most notable is with Cross. While Bourne was taciturn and aloof, Cross is garrulous and friendly. He chats with anyone he can.
He’s a more affable killing machine. His motivation is not the same as Bourne’s however, as we find out that a drug he has been taking per the program’s directives.