"The Bourne Legacy" is the perfect antidote to edge-of-your-seat thrills, as the franchise’s chief writer, Tony Gilroy, seizes the directing reins to escort us on a slumped-in-your-seat borefest that induces more yawns than a two-hour commencement speech.
No one wanted this. Not even lapsed Christians sought to be “Bourne” again. But the greedy Hollywood suits, blinded by the golden dollar signs, thought otherwise.
Or should I say, didn’t think at all, as evidenced by what they’ve wrought with their Damon-less reboot, “The Bourne Idiocy.” Oh, excuse me, I’m told that it’s “Bourne Legacy.” No matter. It could be called ‘The Bourne Brilliancy” and it would still be as dumb as a box of hammers.
It’s the perfect antidote to edge-of-your-seat thrills, as the franchise’s chief writer, Tony Gilroy, seizes the directing reins to escort us on a slumped-in-your-seat borefest that induces more yawns than a two-hour commencement speech. And at times, “Legacy” feels just like that, as it drones on with reams of expository techno-speak, including lengthy discussions about altered chromosomes and the importance of popping blue pills.
Riveting stuff. But where’s all the franchise’s trademark action? Apparently, it flew the coop with Damon and director Paul Greengrass, who both wisely opted to sit this one out. Other than a couple of lame confrontations with a snarling wolf and a drone plane, “Legacy” is more than an hour into its extravagant 135-minute running time before a single fist meets flesh. And the one landing the punches is Damon’s lackluster replacement, Jeremy
Renner. He plays Aaron Cross, who, like Jason Bourne, is a rogue from the infamous Treadstone project that turned nice young men into sociopathic killers willing to do the CIA’s black ops’ bidding.
Like Bourne, Aaron has figured out he’s a lethal puppet on a string, and he’s out to sever those ties, much to the chagrin of his chief handler, Eric Byer, played by a constipated Edward Norton. No knock on him, because every one of his costars looks as anal retentive as he, as they conduct their rote deviancy from a tech-heavy control room that feels every bit as claustrophobic as the picture.
Just about everything that transpires seems to take place in an enclosed environment, from a researcher going postal in a high-security lab to a shoot-‘em up inside the home of Aaron’s soon-to-be partner in crime, Dr. Marta Shearing (a wasted Rachel Weisz). The two wind up in a race to the Philippines for what seems like the sole purpose of setting up the film’s two lengthy action scenes, one taking place on a rooftop (Where have I seen that before?) and a motorcycle chase through the crowded streets of Manila that seems to last longer than the Bol d’Or.
Clichéd, yes, but it might have been tolerable if Renner and Weisz shared a lick of chemistry or pizzazz. Don’t get me wrong, both are terrific actors (see “The Town” and “The Whistleblower” and you’ll see why), but this pseudo-cerebral action mumbo-jumbo just isn’t their forte. Of course, when the script is as bad as the one penned by Gilroy and his brother, Dan, it’s no one’s specialty.
They dutifully recycle every tenet in the spy-vs.-spy tome in service of a plot that’s more of a rehash than a restart; probably because this is the first time there wasn’t a Robert Ludlum source novel to crib from. Gilroy does attempt to liven things up with a succession of superfluous cameos by Albert Finney, Joan Allen, David Strathairn and Scott Glenn, but they are so quick you’ll miss them if you blink. The rest of the supporting cast, which includes Donna Murphy as one of Norton’s lackeys and a bulbous Stacy Keach as a blustery CIA honcho, is as dull as the movie. That’s pretty disparaging, I know, but what else can you say about a “Legacy” that’s anything but heir raising?
THE BOURNE LEGACY (PG-13 for violence and action sequences.) Cast includes Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton. Co-written and directed by Tony Gilroy. 2 stars out of 4.