If ‘Jason Bourne was just the tip of the iceberg’ then this should’ve stayed submerged.
Following Paul Greengrass’ Supremacy and even more impressive Ultimatum was always going to be a tough task, but having worked as a screenwriter on the previous films and with directorial experience, it’s easy to see why Tony Gilroy was chosen as a replacement. With a new hero at the centre of the narrative and a new cast of leading actors, Gilroy’s film doesn’t have much in common with the previous films, aside from being nothing like Robert Ludlum’s novels.
It’s very strange for the leading character of a film series not to appear in the film, especially as his name covered every poster and teaser campaign. With Damon refusing to return to his role, Jeremy Renner was chosen to become a new hero, Aaron Cross, within the same narrative universe. Somewhat surprisingly, it works, at least for a while. New storylines are anchored to the original films and new characters are introduced convincingly, giving more depth to an already interesting narrative. But before long, it begins its descent into the same time-worn, entirely predictable format.
After his breathtaking performance in The Hurt Locker, Renner’s ability as an actor is well known. Recently he has starred mainly within the action genre and despite cliché-ridden roles, his performances have been consistently good. For Legacy, it’s more of the same from Renner, but unfortunately his character’s personal backstory isn’t interesting and we never escape the feeling that he’s a late substitution.
Joining the returning cast members are two of cinema’s leading names, Edward Norton and Rachel Weisz. It’s peculiar that only a few years ago Norton would have been appearing as the lead protagonist himself and though he manages to bring his usual charisma to a support role, he is certainly underused.
Similarly Weisz is relegated to a mere damsel in distress role – incapable of acting of her own accord, she spends most of her time aimlessly following the hero and is rendered helpless and screaming in every troublesome situation. Fortunately this role allowed for one of the most impressive, albeit distressing, scenes of the year. Aided by a stunning performance from Željko Ivanek, the scene lasts several minutes as Weisz’ Dr. Shearing attempts to hide from the drug-induced possession of Dr. Foite as he begins callously slaughtering her colleagues with unflinching cruelty. There are plenty of brief moments in this film that make me believe there’s a really good film in here, but sadly not quite enough to prove it.
The true highlights of the Bourne films come from its action sequences and unfortunately this is where the problems lay. Without enough intensity, inventive weaponry or even the innovative shaky-cam that benefited its predecessors, it fails to match up in almost every way. Despite a few attention-grabbing moments, too many stunts are weak and poorly crafted – failing to offer any proof that these characters are super-humans at all.
Fans will put off by the lack of everything that made the previous films great and new audiences will be equally dismayed by pedestrian action sequences and convoluted science. All faith in this film was lost at its conclusion, which is definitely the worst film ending I’ve seen in a long time.