Story: Jeremy Renner is Alex Cross, another agent in the secret Treadstone project of the CIA. His superiors want him dead to cover up the project after Jason Bourne exposed it. Together with a doctor (Rachel Weisz) who is also on the kill list, Cross escapes and sets out to reclaim his life.
I have never been a big fan of the Bourne movies. I liked Robert Ludlum’s novels well enough, but I though that The Bourne Identity was a poor adaptation. The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, directed by the much lauded Paul Greengrass, took their titles from the novels, but nothing else. Supremacy and Ultimatum are widely considered to have changed the face of action films. But I never much cared for that new face. The shaky camera style that makes it impossible to keep up with what is happening in an action scene is in my opinion but a trick to conceal that the filmmaker does not know how to properly shoot an action scene.
(Proper action scenes, I think, are hardly shot anymore, now that this trick has become widespread. Even the James Bond movie Quantum of Solace was hampered by it. I much prefer old-fashioned action set pieces like those directed by Michael Mann or Philip Noyce)
Where I find Greengrass’ contribution to the Bourne series to be overrated, I must admit that I was a big fan of Matt Damon as Bourne. Over the years, I’ve grown into the idea of Damon as a bona fide character actor, rather than as a Hollywood pretty boy. But for the fourth film in the Bourne series, The Bourne Legacy, both Damon and Greengrass have not returned. Tony Gilroy is now in the director’s chair. He was one of the writers of the previous films and he directed the exciting thriller Micheal Clayton. And the leading man is now Jeremy Renner, the rising star of The Hurt Locker, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and The Avengers.
In The Bourne Legacy, Renner does a decent job with admittedly poor material. This film is shockingly underthought and underwritten. Entire plot strands and developments make no sense at all (including a lengthy opening scene in Alaska). Characters are introduced and dropped at a whim, or not used at all (why Joan Allen’s Pam Landy had to reappear is a mystery to me). Curiously, the action scenes were better than they ever were in the previous films. Especially the Manila motorbike chase is a spectacle the likes of which we have not seen since The Matrix Reloaded.
Verdicht: This film will entertain as long as you do not overthink it. Renner and Weisz are always a pleasure. There is some realy good action. But I can’t escape the thought that this was an idea for just another action movie first, and that the Bourne label got stuck onto it later, for marketing purposes only. And exactly that change has made this film such a mess.