I’ve never been a big fan of the Bourne movies. I find the plots too convoluted and confusing and the herky-jerky action sequences leave me with a headache and queasy stomach.
I stick with them because I like Matt Damon and can usually figure out the bare bones of the story (kinda like how I tolerate Shakespeare plays). And the films are filled with talented actors giving fine performances and when the action sequences aren’t making me ill, they’re pretty impressive.
When they announced the latest in the series, I was excited to learn that — although I like Matt Damon a lot — they were replacing him with Jeremy Renner, whom I like even more (And not just because he plays Hawkeye. I’ve been a Renner fan since “The Hurt Locker.”).
So I signed up for Episode 4: The Bourne Legacy, even though I don’t remember how the last one ended. Is Jason Bourne dead? I’m guessing he faked his death, that seems to be what usually happens in these kinds of films.
As expected, “The Bourne Legacy” has a convoluted, complex plot that I didn’t understand, but here’s the bare bones of what I could figure out: Edward Norton plays Eric Byer, a high-level, top-secret government official who has decided to erase Operation Blackbriar — or Operation Treadstone — or Operation Outcome — (it’s all a blur; aren’t they all the same thing? anyway, I think he’s out to wipe them all out) to prevent any potential embarrassment to the government. And by erase, I mean kill everyone involved in the programs.
Unfortunately for Byer, his operatives fail to take out Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), one of the secret super soldiers created in the same program that gave us Jason Bourne. Running low on the pills that keep him super, Cross goes to the government scientist (Rachel Weisz) who gave him those meds for help.
As luck would have it, Cross arrives at Dr. Marta Shearing’s home just as Byer’s agents have arrived to eliminate her. Cross saves Shearing and the couple embark on a globe-hopping adventure to dodge assassins and stay alive.
If you’re a fan of the Bourne movies you’ll probably enjoy this — unless all your enjoyment hinged on Matt Damon. Renner is a suitable replacement, in fact the film is at its most engaging when he’s on screen. Norton has a compelling screen presence, as usual, and the rest of the cast do good work.
All the other elements that make up a Bourne movie are here in regulation form. The action sequences are well done and for the most part not headache inducing. The exception being the overlong chase scene that wraps up the film.