Review: The Bourne Legacy

Instead of completely rebooting the Bourne series (which was surely considered), Universal have sought for a continuation of the franchise, controversially without Matt Damon and director, Paul Greengrass. However, screenwriter of the original trilogy, Tony Gilroy, now capably steps into the director's chair and alongside new leading man, Jeremy Renner, who prove that there is more life in the Bourne series than ever.

The Bourne Legacy follows genetically modified agent, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), being hunted by the men who created, him after the widespread chaos caused by the highly publicised Jason Bourne scandal. Cross is aided by Doctor Shearing (Rachel Weisz), who also attempts to cure Cross' dependency on the corporation's prescribed medication.

The Bourne Legacy sticks to the traditional ground of the series balancing a cat and mouse tale of survival alongside reflections of the wider ramifications of the CIA's shady operations (mostly based in briefing rooms). Gilroy's direction instils a strong sense of tension and unease throughout, from the eerie silence of the snowy Alaskan mountains in the opening to the heat and hustle of the streets of Manila in the final act. These landscapes (as well as Mainland USA) form the setting for several highly-charged action set pieces, sticking to the Bourne formula including high-speed bike chases and wolf attacks to unexpected home intrusions.

Gilroy does have a tendency to break this stirring atmosphere with an overreliance on several talk-heavy CIA scenes, which occasionally makes the first act of The Bourne Legacy somewhat challenging to fully engage with. At 135 minutes, Gilroy's film may have benefited from some tighter editing and removal of some of these less relevant office based scenes.

Fortunately, the pace heightens by the second act where we see a chilling attack on Shearing's research facility, capturing the paranoia-infused nature of the tainted CIA operations. This allows for Rachel Weisz to bring a nervous energy to the role, showing us that Shearing is a woman thrown from her comfort zone and forced into a world of treachery and secrets.

Leading man, Jeremy Renner proves to be an exemplary piece of casting - convincing as an action hero in nearly every way. The Hurt Locker star captures the perfect balance of mental intelligence and physical competency in the role of Aaron Cross, proving far more convincing than Matt Damon's Jason Bourne. There is also an increased sense of emotional attachment to Renner's Cross through flashbacks into the past that haunts him. uHH

The Bourne Legacy feels like a taut rebirth of the series, and is perhaps its finest moment. After a slight overreliance on slower-paced talky scenes, Gilroy hits his stride - instilling tense direction alongside some well-crafted action sequences. An utterly convincing and focussed performance from Jeremy Renner alongside an energetic turn from Weisz, help remind us that the series does not need Jason Bourne to survive.

Rating: 4/5
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