This isn’t the first summer of sequels in recent years, and it seems that audiences are getting tired of them. And now The Bourne Legacy seems to imply that even filmmakers are getting tired of it, because this movie is barely related to its predecessors.
The Bourne Legacy centers around an operative Aaron Cross (played by Jeremy Renner) who is inexplicably in the middle of nowhere, having been off the grid for some period of time. Cross, like many agents, is a kind of guinea pig for secretive government experiments trying to create ever-better super soldiers. One such experiment has him taking regular doses of green pills (which is supposed to improve physical characteristics like strength and speed) and blue pills (which are supposed to improve his mental faculties). His time away from civilization has depleted his supply of each, and he’s in desperate need of a resupply. Especially of the blue pills, because he was apparently a blathering idiot before he started taking them and he’s in real danger of a relapse.
One of the advantages of his being out of touch with the agency is that he’s gotten an unintentional temporary reprieve from the change in the drug regimen given to other soldiers in his unit. Apparently Bourne (who they at least mention on a couple of occasions) did something that could put some of the higher ups in hot water, and they’re trying to cover their tracks. Cross’s unit just happens to be one of the things that has to be covered, so the soldiers’ normal medication has been swapped for suicide pills and now they’re all dead. And now it’s going to be even harder for Cross to get his next fix.
The Bourne Legacy is literally a film about a junkie in search of his next high, except in this case he’s just high on mental competence. Bourne is mentioned a few times and we see his picture at least once, but that’s the extent of his presence in the movie. We do get other characters from the Bourne series, including characters played by Joan Allen, Albert Finney, and David Strathairn, but this one is almost entirely focused on Renner and a pharmaceutical chemist played by Rachel Weisz.
The film is severely lacking in intelligence and originality. It’s got a mind control subplot that might as well have been directly lifted from The Naked Gun, and none of the handful of action sequences is anywhere near as much fun as we got in earlier installments. That’s not really a knock against Renner, since he plays the part well enough, but it’s just such a stupid part in a stupid film that it’s unlikely the movie would have gotten a green light if it had been a part one instead of a part four.