Short Films
Interviews Contact Links Cheez Blog

The Bourne Legacy (2012)
Tonight's Feature Presentation


Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach, Donna Murphy

Written By: Tony Gilroy (also screen story), Dan Gilroy

Directed By: Tony Gilroy

The Shot

The Bourne Legacy is a dreadfully boring, almost aimless attempt at a spin-off that falls completely flat.  The only reason at all to watch this movie is if you bought a Bourne box set and got this as part of the package, and even then, it’s not worth the time unless you have a crush on one of the leads.

The Highball

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


Fake, full of holes, and lacking any substance or flavor.

Pairs Well With...


So... boring…

This went from something I don’t know about to something on the drawing board, and now you’re telling me it’s up and running?

“It’s up and running.  Consider yourself informed.”


Once upon a time, there were plans to make a fourth Jason Bourne movie.  A script was penned, and then it was given to franchise director Paul Greengrass and franchise star Matt Damon for review.

They both hated it, and refused to have anything to do with it.

Traditionally, one would think that the studio folks would then either 1) hire a script doctor or 2) hire a new screenwriter or two to start from scratch, with the aim in either case being to come up with something that the established parties would be excited about and happy to come on board for.

Instead, the studio chose to come up with another script that wrote out the franchise’s hero – you know, the guy whose name is in every title – and never mind the established director.

The result: The Bourne Legacy.  Or, as I now think of it, The Boring Legacy.

In principle, I like the idea of taking an interesting narrative world and spinning it off for new protagonists to play in.  (To be honest, I think this is something that the Bond franchise should look at.)  But for that idea to work, it needs a decent setup, a better-than-average story, and strong execution.

The Bourne Legacy has none of these things.

The audience first gets to spend a very long time watching Jeremy Renner pretend to be Survivorman in Alaska for reasons that are never really explained.  The shots are pretty and all – especially when viewed in 4k – but… yeah.  Wait; did he just wrestle a wolf?

Fresh audiences who haven’t already confused this nature boy for Les Stroud or Bear Grylls (I’d go with Grylls myself, since he looks like he’s been staying in hotels between camera takes) could be forgiven for thinking that Renner is playing a guy named Jason Bourne, since the movie is called The Bourne Legacy after all, and the setup is practically nonexistent, and these stodgy looking stuffed shirts whose chatter keeps getting interspersed with the nature shots can’t stop talking about this Bourne guy.   Of course, anyone who’s already watched The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum (hopefully recently) will recognize that this chatter is in fact footage from those two films spliced in with some new stuff thanks to one-and-two scene contracts signed by the earlier films’ second stringers.  That’s right, folks: it turns out that this movie takes place during the course of the previous two as a side story!  Apparently, the conspirators behind the two secret government programs that Jason Bourne was involved in also had some even nastier stuff hiding behind the curtain, and they want to napalm the evidence – read: kill everyone below a certain level on the org chart – before any congressional committees can come sniffing around.  Or something.  It takes the better part of an hour to get to the actual plot, which involves Renner’s character chasing around the world not to get revenge on or stop the people trying to kill him – whom he simply treats as an annoyance that just happens, like traffic – but rather to get some drugs (later upgraded to a virus in the bonus round) so that he can keep his artificially high IQ.

Sadly, that sounds way more exciting than it actually is.

Remember how I mentioned earlier that a spin off story has to be better than average to work?  Yeah; this isn’t that.  Anyone who hasn’t seen the previous material will be lost, and people who have seen what came before get to deal with bad guy stuffed shirts with no distinctive personalities (good luck catching anyone’s name or exactly what they do other than bark orders and stare) blathering through an underwhelming rehash that takes forever to get moving, and then be “rewarded” with an incredibly abrupt and unsatisfying ending that skips the climax.  (Bijou interruptus.)

Like I said: The Boring Legacy.

It doesn’t help that series screenwriter Tony Gilroy gets to pull double duty as the director of The Bourne Legacy.  Whatever acclaim he may have received for previous work on Michael Clayton, he’s got a tin eye for this film, which he imbues with zero pace, zero atmosphere, and zero oomph.  There is exactly one sequence that he manages to breathe life into – the motorcycle portion of a too-long chase – and by then, it’s just too late.

Indeed, the only thing that truly keeps The Bourne Legacy watchable to the “wait, that was it?” end – assuming one hasn’t fallen asleep or shut it off in frustration/disgust before the first hour is up – is the presence of Rachel Weisz, who does her very best to bring some life and humanity to an otherwise terminal bore.  (Bonus points to the otherwise uncooked script, by the way, for not turning her character into a sex object.)  But as much as I really do enjoy her performance here, I don’t think I’ll ever be watching it again.

Bottom line, The Bourne Legacy is a boring, pointless waste; a poor appendix attached to an otherwise interesting franchise.  Unless you bought a box set, there’s just no reason to bother with this flick, and even if you did get box set, it’s still very, very, very easy to skip disc #4.

Doom Cheez Cinema is now Cinema on the Rocks. Thank you for your support!

Tweet this page!

- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, July, 2016

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


- copyright 2000-2016, Ziggy Berkeley and Cinema on the Rocks, all rights reserved.

Promotional/still images copyright their original authors. If you're going to drink, please do so legally and responsibly. Thanks.