The Bourne Trilogy was a nice trio of action films, but how could Jason Bourne continue without Matt Damon? Well, it could if the hero wasn't Jason Bourne but newcomer Aaron Cross (played by Jeremy Renner). Yet, after seeing The Bourne Legacy, it's clear that continuing a franchise takes a lot more than another actor playing a similar character.
As The Bourne Legacy opens, Aaron Cross is stuck in the Alaskan wilderness, surviving on his wits and being chased by a pack of wolves. At the same time in Washington, they find that a British reporter has compromised all of their secret programs. Led by Colonel Eric Byer (Edward Norton), his top-secret governmental agency seeks to eradicate all of the black ops programs. Cross is a member of Operation Outcome (Bourne was part of Treadstone) where operatives take blue pills to enhance their mental capabilities and green pills to enhance the physical. Yet Byer wants all operatives eliminated. Cross is about the only one they can't get rid of.
While in Alaska, he runs out of pills and needs a new supply if he's going to outrun Byer's henchmen. He finds Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) who has just narrowly escaped being killed in a rampage by a fellow co-worker (Zeljko Ivenek). She explains that he no longer needs the green pills because he has 'viraled off' of them. If they can get to Manila, where the pills are manufactured, she can viral him off of the blue pills so he will no longer need them either.
I wanted to like this movie but several things prevented that from happening. First, the Alaskan portion seemed to go on forever. Second, the scenes with Norton and in the 'control room' are bogged down with so many acronyms and technical jargon that I lost interest. Third, there is a parallel story about Jason Bourne's whereabouts that really has nothing to do with the story.
Fourth, yes, there is a fourth. There are the questions. Why again, was Cross traipsing around the Alaskan wilderness? Why did the doctor go ballistic and massacre all of his co-workers? Where is Jason Bourne and what does that have to do with anything?
Renner, Weisz, Norton et. al. were solid as actors. It was Tony Gilroy (writer of the Bourne trilogy) who seemed to drop the ball as the director. The first half-hour his idea of creating a fast-pace is jetting across the globe and letting us know by placing the locations in the lower right-corner of the screen. The alphabet soup of acronyms and tech talk didn't help.
I don't know if there will be a fifth Bourne. I didn't think we needed a fourth one. However, if they do a fifth one, I hope to see Renner and Weisz but maybe someone else behind the director's chair.