Posted on 8/11/12 04:24 PM
The Bourne trilogy was a masterful trio of films, each one featuring a great many spectacular yet plausible action sequences woven together by an engrossing storyline. The Bourne Legacy, co-written and directed by series writer Tony Gilroy, reverses that relationship, trading action for dialogue and vice versa. The first forty-five minutes or so consist mostly of exposition for a plot that tries to say too much in the time it is given.
I like to think that I am good at following narratives. However, having not seen any of the previous Bourne films recently, I admit that I knew what was happening, but not why. The whole film feels like an unsolvable jigsaw puzzle; however absorbed you may be in the process of assembling it at first, you gradually realize that some of the pieces don't quite fit together, and you wind up feeling frustrated. All this story needed was a few more connecting threads, and this could been another solid entry in this exemplary series.
While the story is a bit weak, the actors are certainly not. Jeremy Renner, though lacking Matt Damon's charm, pulls off his finest performance since The Hurt Locker. With his rugged looks and toughness, he fits his role perfectly, appearing every inch the genetically enhanced action hero he is. Rachel Weisz plays a doctor partially responsible for the genetic manipulations performed on Cross (Renner) and his associates, who require pills to keep themselves enhanced, lest they degrade both mentally and physically. It is this possibility that keeps Cross on the run, due to his need to acquire more of these pills, and the decision by higher-ups to terminate the program employing both him and Dr. Shearing (Weisz) in light of the events of the preceding trilogy.
These attempts to tie up the program's loose ends make up the best aspects of the film. The action scenes, particularly those involving Cross beating the hell out of baddies, is incredibly visceral, with pitch-perfect fight choreography and involving, if over-stretched, chase scenes. If there had been more of this sort of thing within the two-and-a-quarter hour runtime, this could have been something special. As it is, this film over-exposes one of the better storylines in Hollywood. Maybe the sequel will clear things up, but in the meantime, it's regrettable that well enough just couldn't be left alone.