Theatrical release: 08/10/2012 DVD Date: 12/11/2012
Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 135 minutes
Note(s): Original screenplay by Tony Gilroy and Dan Gilroy, inspired by the "Bourne" thrillers by Robert Ludlum and Eric Van Lustbader.
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Review: This fourth film in the franchise is a bit controversial since, though "Bourne" is in the title, Matt Damon playing Jason Bourne is not in the film. Though the character does make several appearances via news reports and a confusing subplot involving a coverup of some sort in New York City (for which Joan Allen makes a brief appearance as Pam Landy, a chief officer in the CIA who appeared in two of the previous films). Still, it's made clear early on that Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner's character) is a contemporary of Bourne, though their paths never cross.
The other somewhat controversial element to the film is that, unlike the first three, this one is not based on any book in the series, created by Robert Ludlum and now continued by Eric Van Lustbader. And yet the film shares the same title as one of the books, coincidentally the fourth in the series.
I knew a bit about the film before seeing it and yet for the first hour I was thoroughly confused. Entertained, to be sure, but also confused. It isn't until about the halfway point that I thought the seemingly disparate storylines started to come together, explaining that Cross has been genetically modified via a super-secret government program to be superior to his peers, not enough to make a significant difference in his everyday life but enough to have an advantage over his enemies. And now his primary enemy are the backers of the government program that created him, who are determined to shut him down permanently.
The film is nicely paced with the action sequences — and there are a lot of them — generally well executed, notwithstanding a motorcycle chase through Manila towards the end goes on for far, far too long. Even though I was confused at first, I thought the screenplay did a fine job of creating a new universe for Aaron Cross all the while maintaining a connection to the Bourne universe. The direction is crisp and the actors all do a credible job of portraying their respective characters. The bottom line here is I really enjoyed The Bourne Legacy. The ending keeps the door open for a sequel, should the producers decide to film one. I hope they do.