See it or Skip it: The Bourne Legacy

The fourth film in the series takes place during the events of the first three films, so there’s a good, solid reason that Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is playing Sir Not Appearing in this Film. There’s a real life reason too. Damon said that he wouldn’t return unless Paul Greengrass returned to direct, and since that didn’t happen, here we are.

Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye from The Avengers) plays Aaron Cross, a man who follows orders and likes the enhancements gained from his little blue and green pills. Renner’s character is different from Bourne, so the entire story doesn’t feel like a retread of the same exact material. Sure, there are similarities, but Aaron Cross joined up for completely different reasons, ones that I found to be a little more compelling once revealed. (No spoilers here.) It makes him seem more human, despite his enhanced capabilities. Renner does a good job on both the action parts and the more dramatic ones, of which there are more than in the other films. But when the chips are down, violence is almost always the immediate answer, followed by some thinking once the current opponents are dispatched.

Bourne may not be in the film, but his actions cause the program’s shutdown. This, then, is one facet of Bourne’s Legacy: the death of all the other operatives in the same program. Cross fakes his death  and could just run free and clear, except for one thing: He needs drugs to keep his enhancements up and running. Without them, he’s just a normal man who’s killed lots of people. This may or may not be quite true.

At the same time, he needs to dodge the attacks of his former masters, who seem to have every piece of surveillance tech from around the world at their fingertips in minutes. Action movie carnage ensues, with exciting chases and shootouts and running over the rooftops of Manila.

Rachel Weisz plays Dr. Marta Shearing, a scientist doing research work on Aaron Cross and his compatriots. She survives an attack at the lab that wipes out the rest of the team, and then narrowly escapes another at her house. Aaron helps her with the second one, showing up with the rescue timing you only find in movies. At least the movie shows that Aaron planned his rescue with a few scenes of him changing clothes in the woods.

Aaron and Marta have some chemistry, but it takes a while to develop. Actually, a lot of things take a while to develop in this film. It plays out more like a drama than an action movie for most of the screen time. This isn’t a bad thing. Aaron Cross is thinking for himself, perhaps for the first time in his life, so it’s cool to watch him develop.

There are some missteps in the movie and some mistakes that I’m not sure a secret assassin operative would make, (a red coat in the Alaskan wilderness? Really?), but there’s a lot of cool sequences and even some philosophical questions that make The Bourne Legacy a Go See It.