“We are the sin eaters. It means that we take the moral excrement we find in this equation and we bury it down deep inside of us, so that the rest of our case can stay pure. That is the job. We are morally indefensible, and absolutely necessary.”
- Retired Col. Eric Byer, USAF
Here’s what I wrote about this film in my theatrical review:
“At the same time Jason Bourne is running around dismantling the CIA’s clandestine Treadstone and Black Briar programs in New York, a shady outside operative, retired Col. Eric Byer, USAF (Edward Norton), is instructing his team, as well as a mysterious government bigwig, fellow retired military man Adm. Mark Turso, USN (Stacy Keach), that they’ve got a bigger problem than just a single man on a mission of vengeance. They need to erase, not all memory of the programs Bourne was a part of, but the ones his training and development led to as well.
Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is in the wrong place at the right time. It’s blind luck that the highly trained agent was in the middle of Alaskan nowhere when the kill order came down, and using every facet of his unique skillset he’s able to escape wondering what is going on. But he needs to refill his medications, the drugs his superiors who have augmented his abilities have got him borderline addicted to. When the woman in charge of his medical evaluation, Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), is also marked for assassination, Cross knows it is up to him to save her, and in so doing hopefully get refills to satiate his growing need.
One thing leads to another, of course, a gigantic conspiracy far larger than anything Jason Bourne ever could have imagined ultimately unveiled as Cross and Shearing make their way across the globe trying to avoid detection. It’s interesting, a great deal of fun, even, but there is no avoiding the fact that The Bourne Legacy, an expansion of the universe set forth by The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum but without that trio’s titular hero and star, does feel a bit on the overly familiar side. As spectacular as some of the beats are, as great as many of the escapes, close calls and bit of intellectual ingenuity can be, the simple truth is that we’ve seen all of this before, and even though we’re presented with a new cast of characters the situations themselves present more than their fair share of déjà vu.
But give credit where credit is due. Director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, Duplicity) has had a hand in all of the previous films and he knows this world inside and out. Instead of going with a reboot, instead of just jettisoning Matt Damon for another actor like the James Bond flicks have done for five-plus decades, he and his co-screenwriter brother Dan (The Fall) attempt to broaden the scenario, make the world Jason Bourne inhabited a much larger entity. They’ve set the action during what is essentially the last third of The Bourne Ultimatum, show what effects Jason Bourne’s New York demolition derby have on the shadier aspects of U.S. intelligence gathering at-large.
Better than that, he’s somehow managed to make this new direction of the series both entirely his own while still maintaining tonal fidelity with the trio that preceded it. Old characters played by Joan Allen, David Strathairn, Albert Finney and Scott Glenn float in and out, while new ones portrayed by Norton, Renner, Weisz, Keach, Zeljko Ivanek, Donna Murphy and Corey Stoll slowly take center stage. It is an efficient movie, electrically paced (even at 135 minutes), beautifully shot by Robert Elswit (The Town), enthusiastically edited by John Gilroy (Warrior) and scored within an inch of its life by the great James Newton Howard (The Hunger Games).
In all honesty, the movie works far better than it probably has any right to. I was never bored by the proceedings. More, I was constantly curious what was going to happen next and where it was Gilroy and company were intending on taking us. Like the other entries in the series the action propels the narrative forward, is organic to the material and doesn’t feel pre-designed so that the script would have to be molded around it. While a lot is taken on faith, while much of the motivations are strictly of the surface level variety, this is still a character-driven enterprise through and through, and as such it’s extremely difficult not to become intertwined in the labyrinthine mess Cross and Shearing find themselves ensnared within.
Does that make The Bourne Legacy necessary? No, not really, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining all the same. It may be following familiar, in some ways downright iconic, footsteps, but Gilroy is doing it with flair, skill and panache to burn. The world of Jason Bourne has just gotten a heck of a lot larger, and if audiences find themselves drawn to it like I think they will be I for one am curious to see just how far down this rabbit hole Cross, Shearer, Byer and maybe, at some point, even Bourne himself are willing to descend.”
If taken on its own merits, The Bourne Legacy still works incredibly well. Impeccably acted (especially by Weisz, she elevates numerous scenes and sequences all on her own), filled with a number of glorious action sequences (which actually propel the plot forward instead of stopping it cold) and confidently directed by Gilroy, the movie gets the job done and then some. Is it necessary? Probably not, but it is entertaining, and in the grand scheme of things truly that’s all that really matters.
The Bourne Legacy is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 2.40:1 1080p transfer.
This Blu-ray features an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack as well as English, French and Spanish DTS 5.1 tracks and features optional English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Extras here include:
· Audio Commentary with director/co-writer Tony Gilroy, co-writer Dan Gilroy, editor John Gilroy, director of photography Robert Elswit, second unit director Dan Bradley and production designer Kevin Thompson – This commentary track covers just about every facet of the film, its production, its backstory, everything, and as such it’s a wonderful listen, even with so many participants, from start to finish.
· Deleted Scenes – Three great scenes, two of which border on awesome, yet all of which Tony Gilroy was correct in removing. Pity.
· Re-Bourne – Featurette on the direction Tony Gilroy and company felt they needed to go in order to keep the series going and allow this movie to stand on its own.
· Enter Aaron Cross – Short centered on Jeremy Renner and why he decided being a part of this movie was a good idea.
· Crossing Continents – Forgettable short on shooting around the globe.
· Moving Targets – Nice little featurette centered on Marta and Aaron’s relationship.
· Man vs. Wolf – Featurette that feels like it could have just as easily been part of The Grey Blu-ray, centered on Renner’s relationship with his wolf adversaries (real, CGI and animatronic).
· Capturing Chaos: The Motorbike Chase – A step-by-step examination of the film’s climactic motorcycle chase.
I like how The Bourne Legacy expands the Jason Bourne mythology, and even though the sequel isn’t entirely necessary I can’t help but feel that director Tony Gilroy and company do a solid job of entertaining the viewer all the same. It’s a solid effort, end even though box office receipts weren’t exactly what Universal was wishing for I still hope the series continues, maybe even with a sitting of the titular missing-in-action (this time around) hero at some point in the very near future.