|Starring||Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Albert Finney, Oscar Isaac, David Strathairn, Joan Allen|
|Release||10 AUG (US) 13 AUG (UK) Certificate 12A|
While Legacy is reluctant to diverge from a winning formula (international jet-setting, close-quarters combat, improvised weaponry, Moby), writer-director Tony Gilroy is smart enough to keep things familiar without feeling like a retread. Gilroy – writer of the first three Bourne movies – cleverly plants Legacy's roots deep within the established universe, courtesy of brief cameos from the likes of Albert Finney and Joan Allen, and blink-and-you'll-miss-it re-runs of pivotal Ultimatum scenes (hope you weren't counting on seeing much of Paddy Considine's head). The rapid-fire dialogue is all reminiscent of Greengrass' trademark chatter, with the agency suits conversing in top-level government lingo and highly-stylised Sorkinisms ("You were given a Ferrari and your people treated it like a lawnmower"). The biggest crime Gilroy commits is quarantining Ed Norton into a little computer control room, where he's forced to shout at maps and marshal his staff like a schoolteacher.
Topping two hours, The Bourne Legacy could have perhaps taken a few lessons from its predecessors and been trimmed to a leaner runtime, although doing so would necessitate the removal of some of its most interesting elements and characters e.g. Oscar Isaac's poker-faced outpost agent and Rachel Weisz' lab colleague, whose terrifying stalk-and-shoot breakdown provides the movie with its most heart-stopping sequence. The Bourne Legacy doesn't need these characters, but it is infinitely enriched by their presence, and the interaction between them never feels rushed. Renner and Weisz form a neat, interdependent partnership on the run, and never resort to anything more romantic than hand-holding and a motorbike backie. Even Jason Bourne had sex with his hostage.
In actual fact, The Bourne Legacy could benefit with further fleshing out in parts: Norton's history with Renner is limited to a few flimsy flashbacks, while a curious 'Flowers For Algernon' vibe is unexplored – weaned onto an intelligence-boosting blue pill by his agency, a cold turkey Cross insinuates he'll lose mental faculties the longer he's off his "chems", a theory supported when Norton's handler says he'll eventually "run out of brain". So basically we've been robbed of an action thriller in which the lead turns into a gibbering idiot who voluntarily hands himself into his local police station to claim his free speedboat.
Though it ultimately splutters towards the finish, lacking a credible threat and a sense of direction in its final third, The Bourne Legacy nonetheless stakes a claim to being a vital part of – for my money – one of the best action franchises of the new millennium. We'll never know what Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon would have done with a fourth Bourne movie, or if they'll ever make another one, but Legacy is as good a stop-gap as we could have expected for now.