The Bourne Legacy Review

By August 9, 2012

Do me a favor. Watch this trailer that I’ve embedded right here. Do not read another word until you watch it.

Did you enjoy that trailer? It was pretty awesome, right? The bad news is that the trailer is better than the flick!

The tagline for this film should read “There SHOULD have only been just one”.  “The Bourne Legacy” is a great idea on paper, but a very poorly executed action flick. The idea of expanding the Bourne universe and exploring other characters that are similar to him is an interesting premise. It becomes problematic when your new lead star can’t live up to the previous films.

Can you even call this an action movie?  For a two hour and fifteen minute film, I can only think back to maybe a good twenty-minutes of action.  I use the word good, because there was only about fifty-five seconds of GREAT action, which is the sum of four quick action shots. The rest of the action is overly edited and uninteresting, which is extremely annoying because action is supposed to be free flowing and enjoyable.

“The Bourne Legacy” needs Matt Damon, better action, more Edward Norton and an ending.  All I will say about the ending is that it leaves you unfulfilled and it’s incomplete. You feel like you are supposed to have at least one more action scene but the movie just cuts itself off. Imagine that you’re riding a roller coaster and you’re waiting for that last big drop or last big loop and the coaster suddenly just stops right before you get to it. The gate opens and you’re asked to step off at the highest point and fall to your death. That’s how it felt to watch this film.

I’ve seen the film twice now and I had two different interesting reactions to the closing of the film.  The first time, I sat there in my seat thinking it was a joke and that the movie would continue on. Minutes later, I walked out of the film, confused and disappointed. The second time, I sat in the theatre just so I could hear the audience react. I actually started talking right as the film ended and a friend of mine said, “Quiet dude, I’m trying to watch the movie”, obviously thinking there was more coming. Two minutes later, he goes “I’m sorry dude, I thought there was more to the movie. That ending was so bad.” Anti-climactic is the best word I can use to describe it without giving it away.

“The Bourne Legacy” is directed by Tony Gilroy (“Michael Clayton) and stars Jeremy Renner (“Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”, “The Hurt Locker”), Edward Norton (“Fight Club”, “Primal Fear”) and Rachel Weisz (“The Constant Gardner”, “The Fountain”).

It’s extremely hard to get to in to the details of the plot considering the film’s story is very hard to follow. On the surface, the film picks up during “The Bourne Ultimatum,” and we learn that there are many more super soldiers like Jason Bourne (Damon) except that these other soldiers are being chemically enhanced.  Bourne was part of a government program called Treadstone and spent three films trying to find his identity and keeping himself alive. When “The Bourne Legacy” opens, we meet Aaron Cross (Renner), a solider with cognitive and physical enhancements. He takes blue and green pills every day to keep up his body and mental enhancements. After an incident, Cross’ program is shut down and all soldiers involved are to be killed. Heading up the program is Eric Byer (Norton), who has also ordered the program to be shut down. Cross survives the shut down and goes on the run with a Dr. Marta Shearing (Weisz). Shearing was involved in administering the drugs to the soldiers and knows a way to help Cross viral off the drugs so he doesn’t lose his mind.

On a positive and negative note, the film does contain very intense sequences but these scenes don’t involve our lead character. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that both scenes include Rachel Weisz. One is a very intense and violent sequence and the other is dialogue sequence.  It’s just crazy to think that the most memorable scenes in the film don’t contain our lead action star. Edward Norton definitely delivers great intensity in his sequences and rides that fine line of a bad guy/good guy. His character must execute terrible things but he is also looking out for the greater good of the country.

For me, anytime Matt Damon entered a room in the ‘Bourne’ films, I never had a doubt in my mind that he couldn’t wipe that whole room out with his bare hands.  He always commanded such an amazing on-screen presence. Renner has only half of that presence. I never found myself fully invested in him as an action star which is sad considering how great he was in “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” and “The Hurt Locker”. For me personally, he doesn’t have the charisma to carry a leading role in an action film.

James Newton Howard’s (“The Dark Knight”, “The Hunger Games”) score is absolutely phenomenal and my favorite part of the entire movie. I found myself more interested in the music than what was happening on the screen. It’s a very intriguing and interesting piece of music that you can bob your head to.

There is one particular shot that I wanted to point out that I was extremely fascinated by. Look out for a scene when Renner’s character is at Weisz’s character’s house. He leaves the house during an action scene and director Tony Gilroy then follows Renner in one continuous shot of action as he climbs the side of the house. It does appear to be one shot but as Gilroy told me, it’s manipulated to look that way much like the famous continuous shots in “Children of Men”.

I say skip “The Bourne Legacy” in theaters and wait for the rental. You’re better off renting “The Bourne Ultimatum” (my favorite of the three Matt Damon flicks) if you what to see great action and a lead character that grabs you and has killer on screen presence. “The Bourne Legacy” receives a 2.5/5 rating in my book.

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Kevin McCarthy

Kevin "BDK" McCarthy is a film critic in the Washington, DC metro area for FOX 5 (WTTG-TV) and CBS RADIO. Kevin graduated from George Mason University in the spring of 2006 and majored in communications with a concentration in media production and criticism. Kevin began his movie reviewing career on "The Junkies" morning show, heard on 106.7FM The FAN, where he also hosted a movie show Friday evenings from 7p-10p until 2009. In the summer of 2007 after dressing up as a Wizards cheerleader (yes, this is how he got the job), Kevin was hired as the movie reviewer for the FOX 5 morning news where he also contributes as the entertainment reporter. His full written reviews and celebrity interviews can be found at Kevin is known for his conversational writing style and unique rating system. He has loved movies for as long as he can remember and saw his first R-rated film when he was just eight years old. This only occurred because he cut a deal with his folks that if he received a great report card, he would be able to watch James Cameron's "Terminator 2: Judgment Day." After seeing that film at such a tender age, Kevin knew that movies would be a centerpiece in his life. The film is still Kevin's favorite action film of all time. Some of Kevin's favorite moments in his movie reviewing career have been interviewing some of his influences/idols: Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Gary Oldman, Angelina Jolie, Robert De Niro, Tim Burton, Don Cheadle, Kevin Smith, Darren Aronofsky, and more! Kevin appears on "The Junkies" every Friday morning and will continue to make appearances on FOX 5 TV. He is also a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and his reviews are featured on He can be followed on twitter at and Facebook at Kevin's favorite film of all time is "True Romance."

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