Watching a Bourne movie not starring Jason Bourne is like watching the Harlem Globetrotters starring the Washington Generals. Over the past months, writer of the last three, and now director of this one, Tony Gilroy and Matt Damon have feuded over the future of this franchise. Damon wants a good script in order to come back. After watching “Bourne 4”, I side with him.
Gilroy has stated that this is a companion piece which ties into the Bourne storyline, but other than telling us that there’s more than one C.I.A. program (a fact we could gather from the film’s poster alone), he’s really just telling the same story with different characters and minimal results.
Visit our Facebook page for a gallery of stills from “Bourne Legacy”
That program is called Operation Outcome, an offshoot of Treadstone that involves Sin-Eaters, guys called upon to do the necessary immoral things around the world. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is one of its field agents, who we discover trekking across the Alaskan mountains. One difference between Cross and Bourne is that Cross has been genetically enhanced with pills, probably why he, quite impressively, manages to take down a wolf and a drone sent to kill him after that.
The drone is courtesy of his superiors at the Agency, who are all worried that Bourne’s continued search for the truth will expose them all, thus programs need to be “cleaned up.” Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), a scientist at Outcome, also finds herself targeted for a “cleaning.” They go on the lam together.
So begins the chase, a disappointingly straightforward one that misses out on the plotting complexity of the first three “Bourne” movies and seems to be building toward revealing nothing. Gilroy’s direction moves at a snail’s pace (this movie should not be almost two and a half hours long) and he favors scenes of complicated, long-winded talk about things like genetic enhancement, pills, and trying to shoo-horn this Outcome story with the rest of the “Bourne” storyline. The adrenaline doesn’t start pumping until twenty minutes before the end, with a chase through the streets of Manila, Philippines that borrows heavily from other Bourne movies but is still the best thing on offer here.
Renner has nice action-star physicality but he lacks Bourne’s wit, charisma and vulnerability. It’s hard to care about him. Meanwhile Norton, a great actor, sleepwalks his way through and comes in far behind Chris Cooper, Joan Allen, and David Strathairn who played team leaders in the other films.
If Gilroy & Co. hope to turn this into a bigger conspiracy, he’s going to have to do a lot more than just rehashing in order to make it work. This is the first time “Bourne” feels more like “Boring.”
Cast interviews and movie tickets on FANDANGO