The first of the franchise not to follow the escapades of Jason Bourne, instead The Bourne Legacy focuses on Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), a Blackbriar operative, and how the events of The Bourne Ultimatum affect him.
Cross, like Bourne is an elite agent, who maintains his physical and mental enhancements by continuously taking specially engineered medication. Unfortunately, following the exposure of the Blackbriar project, Col. Eric Byer (Edward Norton) decides to terminate the programme to limit any damage. This involves killing all the operatives and scientists who worked on the project. Apart from having the CIA hunting him down Cross is also down to the last of his meds and attempts to enlist the help of Blackbriar scientist Martha Shearing (Rachel Weisz), who is also being hunted by the CIA. The two embark on race to keep Cross medicated before he looses the enhanced abilities that are keeping them both from being killed.
As most of the characters from the previous Bourne films are either absent or relegated to minor roles, the film first has to introduce its new cast, which unfortunately keeps the first half of the film at a sluggish pace. This is further exasperated by the continuous cutting between the different story lines in the film, which can be disorientating at times. Once the story lines converge the action really begins to take over and the film returns to standard action movie form – fights, guns and explosions galore. The confrontations with the CIA are not particularly remarkable, although there are one or two notable moments of high adrenaline cinema, namely the climatic motorbike chase.
The Bourne Legacy relies a lot on the audience knowing what happened in the previous Bourne film, as not only do the timelines of both films overlap, the inciting incident for all the dramatic tension in this film also occurred in the last one. Coupled with the slow pacing in the beginning of the film and continuous allusions to the absent Jason Bourne means that it does not measure up well as a stand alone action film. However, for fans of the franchise who want to delve deeper into the world of Bourne this is a reasonably good watch, it neither bores nor amazes, but it’s not the worst way to spend two hours and fifteen minutes.