It was with great trepidation that I approached The Bourne Legacy. Co-writer/director Tony Gilroy has been in the hot seat with Matt Damon ever since he handed in his rough draft of Ultimatum and literally walked away. While Damon said he would not return to the Robert Ludlum franchise so long as Gilroy was involved, it didn’t stop Universal Pictures from marching on. Let’s be honest: every studio knows a good cash cow when they see one. So while Legacy may not necessarily bring anything truly new to the table, at least things haven’t gone so awry that it can’t be salvaged by pairing up new star Jeremy Renner with Damon in a hopeful faceoff.
The Bourne Legacy begins essentially the same as Ultimatum did. Journalist Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) has been gunned down at London’s Waterloo station and Jason Bourne (a seen-only-in-photograph Damon) has come to New York. What begins now is a side story (or “flash sideways” as I call it, thanks to Lost) that runs parallel to the events in Ultimatum. This time the story focuses its attention on new Blackbriar “Participant” Aaron Cross (Renner) who is on his own in the Alaskan wilderness popping blue and green pills, taking his own blood samples, and fending off wolves. We learn that he’s on disciplinary action when he meets up with another participant of the program at a cabin in the woods.
It’s not long before the cabin is blown to smithereens and Cross steals a plane headed back to the States. Meanwhile, Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) is performing her scientific duties to the program in a lab at Sterisyn-Morlanta. Before you know it, Dr. Donald Foite (Zeljko Ivanek) goes berserk and guns down five of the lab staff before he turns the gun on himself. Back at home, Marta is visited by grief counselors but not before they turn a gun on her in what is supposed to wind up looking like a suicide but, just in time, Cross comes busting in on the scene. Now Marta’s home is engulfed in flames and Retired Col. Eric Byer, USAF (Edward Norton) is hot on their tails while Cross and Marta take off on a global trek to find Cross some more “chems” (i.e. medication) and maybe even wean himself off and out of the program.