In a parallel story line, a lab scientist played by veteran character actor Zeljko Ivanek goes subtly berserk and (without reason) kills every doctor who has ever had anything to do with keeping these spies physically fit. It’s the film’s most hauntingly realistic scene. As the small statured Ivanek slowly makes his way around the lab, coldly executing one colleague after the other, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the all-too-frequent stories of crazed men blankly opening fire for unexplained reasons in public places. But then, right around the time Ivanek’s character kills himself, leaving one scientist (Rachel Weisz) to live another day, The Bourne Legacy stops being real a turns into a muddled, confounding mess – an action thriller with little action and fewer thrills.
Soon, Renner and Weisz are fighting an unbeatable and remorseless American government (headed by Edward Norton’s calculating, borderline psychopathic desk jockey) the same exact way Matt Damon and Franka Potente did in The Bourne Identity. The difference is, and try to stay with me here, instead of Bourne trying to regain knowledge of who he is, Cross is trying to not turn back into a moron.
No, really. You see, Cross and the rest of the super spies have to take routine doses of medicine that chemically maintain their superhuman strength. They are quicker, stronger, and smarter. If Cross stops taking his pills, he will turn back into his old self, a dimwit with an IQ 12 points below the standard to even enter the Army.
I mean… what?
So, the entirety of the movie consists of Cross and his genius lady scientist friend traveling across the world to find a cure so that Cross will be able to keep his strength and intelligence, without having to take the pills. All while escaping near death at the hands of the government, naturally.
Writer/director Tony Gilroy (who co-wrote the first three installments) knows how to create thrilling cinema; his Michael Clayton is clear evidence of that. But The Bourne Legacy is far too puzzling for its own good. Sure, it’s nice to see a character like Cross carry himself with a little charm and humor, and most of the acting here is reliable throughout, but if you don’t bother to give a shit about what they are talking about, what’s the point of it all?
On top of the film’s general lack of coherence, its action sequences are few and far between, and, save the truly stunning motorcycle chase that concludes the film, is nothing new to what we’ve already seen in the franchise.
The film’s lack of an ending only cements the notion that The Bourne Legacy in no way needed to be made. It isn’t interested in answering questions or offering new insight. Its goal is to open doors and pray for a sequel.
The Bourne Identity: B
The Bourne Supremacy: B
The Bourne Ultimatum: A-
The Bourne Legacy: D+