In 2002 Jason Bourne, the amnesiac spy/assassin loosely based off of the Robert Ludlem novels, made his way to the big screen. Played magnificently by Matt Damon, “The Bourne Identity” was a breath of fresh air in the action-thriller genre which had been dominated by movies like "Mission: Impossible" and the James Bond series.
In the following years, two sequels (“The Bourne Supremacy” and “Ultimatum”) also starring Damon came along, each tolerable in their own right, both feeding off of the previous story, but neither as good as the first.
Eventually the quality of the of the scripts were of such poor quality that even Matt Damon distanced himself and moved on from the franchise.
If only the studio made the same move.
Supposedly Paul Greengrass, the director of the first three Bourne installments joked about a fourth film being titled "The Bourne Redundancy," which turns out to be ironically appropriate. I submit the even more appropriate "The Boring Legacy."
Directed by Tony Gilroy, writer of the first three Bourne films, “The Bourne Legacy” struggles to introduce new characters and attach them to the established narrative.
In a nutshell, we learn that the covert program that created Jason Bourne has a sister program run by another clandestine government agency like the CIA. The head of that agency (The Incredible Hulk’s Edward Norton) is positive that the events of "Supremacy" have created an infection which needs to be "cleaned up" - a euphemism for killing all agents involved in the "Outcome" program.
Aaron Cross (The Hurt Locker's Jeremy Renner) is the last of these Bourne-like agents who are dependent on a combination of pills to maintain their amazing physical and mental skills. He's knows he's being hunted but desperately wants to obtain a refill so not to lose his lethal abilities.
Bored yet? I felt the same way watching.
He teams up with a reluctant biologist (Rachel Wiesz) who helped engineer and administrate the "Outcome" agents and program who is also marked for "cleansing" as the rest of her team is massacred in a workplace shooting that was frankly, extremely uncomfortable to watch in light of the recent real-life mass murders in Colorado and Wisconsin.
What made the first Bourne film so captivating was the intriguing plot that accompanied Bourne's amnesia laced with the action sequences that showcased his innate abilities to assess a situation and appropriately and effortlessly kick ass.
And that's precisely where “The Bourne Legacy” fails. The plot is nothing more than boring and the action scenes not only pale on comparison to and in intensity to Bourne's, Bond's and Hawke's (of Mission: Impossible) they happen so late in the film that they hardly matter since you have literarily already seen all of them in the film's trailers.
Ironically the tagline to this installment is "There was never just one."
There probably should've been.