Student review: ‘The Bourne Legacy’

When we last left the “Jason Bourne” film series, Matt Damon’s titular hero had just taken a swan dive off a high-rise and landed in the depths of the East River. He was presumed dead, but one of the final shots of “The Bourne Ultimatum” showed him swimming away, having once again evaded capture.

“Ultimatum” was the concluding chapter of the original “Bourne” trilogy and marked Damon’s departure from the franchise. We pick up five years later with “The Bourne Legacy,” directed by Tony Gilroy and starring Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross. Cross is a member of Operation Outcome, a clandestine special operations group similar to Treadstone from the original trilogy. Rounding out the cast is Scott Glenn (reprising his role as CIA Director Ezra Kramer), Rachel Weisz as scientist Marta Shearing, and Edward Norton as Eric Byer, the villain of this tale.

“Legacy” isn’t the non-stop thrill ride that “Ultimatum” was, but there’s a good bit to like about it. Renner, who last appeared as Hawkeye in Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers,” is a fine actor, and he holds his own as an action hero. I’m relatively unfamiliar with Weisz, but she does good work. Norton is in fine form, but his talent and his character are underused. Tony Gilroy, a co-writer for “Ultimatum,” directed the film, and he proves that he can direct action, with a couple of frenetic, impressive sequences.

While the original trilogy focused on Jason Bourne’s search for his identity and his attempts to outmaneuver and expose Treadstone, “Legacy” seems to be designed solely as a launching pad for another franchise, which is one of the film’s major flaws. The main problem I have with the film is that nothing really happens. While viewing the film, I often wondered what the point of it was, if such a point existed at all.

If Universal Studios wants to spin this film into another successful franchise, they’ve got their work cut out for them. I haven’t seen many of Renner’s films, but he turned in fine performances in “The Avengers” and Ben Affleck’s 2010 crime thriller “The Town.” I think he can carry an action franchise, but “Legacy’s” flaws are many and any truly great moments in the film are nonexistent. The film would have worked better if it didn’t seem like such a shameless attempt to capitalize on the original trilogy’s success.

It’s a decent film, but a weak script, dull story and uninspired characters make “The Bourne Legacy” a sad continuation of one of the best action franchises in recent years.