Running parallel to the plot of the last Bourne film, The Bourne Legacy will seem far more confusing for those not familiar with the earlier trilogy, or at least with Paul Greengrass’ concluding chapter The Bourne Ultimatum. This film follows the story of Aaron Cross (Renner), a member of Outcome; a top-secret U.S. government program designed to enhance the physical and mental capabilities of their operatives through pills known as “chems”. If you are familiar with the Matt Damon films, Outcome is a black ops operation à-la-Treadstone in that it attempts to create better secret soldiers, but with even more ambitious intentions for their operatives.
We begin with Aaron Cross in the Alaskan wild, swimming in ice-cold water, mountain climbing – often without ropes – and fighting off wolves. Aaron makes it to his rendezvous point a day before expected, and meets Number 3 (Oscar Isaac), another member of this mysterious program. They have never met before, and yet they can instantly relate through the shared secrecy of their lives. Yet they will likely never meet again, keeping their interactions professional and brief. Meanwhile, in Langley the head of Outcome Eric Byer (Edward Norton) decides that because of the rogue actions of Jason Bourne it has become too dangerous to have agents in the field, so they set in place a system to kill off every field agent in the program – probably about 10 or 12 uniquely skilled individuals like Cross.
Jeremy Renner approaches the role of Aaron Cross seriously, as he has shown to in other films such as The Town or The Hurt Locker. While this is more of a summer action flick the dramatic moments are few, but his performance is certainly good enough that Aaron becomes a successful new hero in the franchise. Weisz’s performance as Dr. Shearing compliments Renner well, and she gets a lot of screen time despite her not being a romantic interest; yet. Writer/director Tony Gilroy’s newest screenplay for the series is a little convoluted and doesn’t quite achieve all it sets out to, but the cast is great, and the thrills are filmed well enough that The Bourne Legacy keeps us interested in the franchise despite the lack of the title character.