I know it’s an unpopular opinion but I think The Bourne Legacy is pretty damn awesome. It doesn’t carry the same visceral “shaky-cam” aesthetic as the previous entries, but on its own terms, this is an effective and subtly stylish movie made by one of the chief architects of the series. Those first 20 minutes are heady brilliance, and I loved how writer/director Tony Gilroy connected the last act of Ultimatum to the very start of his universe expanding continuation, taking all of the elements that we’d come to expect from this run-and-gun template, and bringing something — GASP! — new to the table in terms of story and character. Jeremy Renner was a perfect addition to the franchise, and it seems a shame that this film didn’t do an additional $50 million domestic, as we’re unlikely to see any more hybrid tales with his Aaron Cross character. Super-hot Rachel Weisz was smartly cast as his scientist ally, and on a purely superficial level, it must be said, her haircut and glasses combo in this film are nearly painfully sexy. The story was so well done and exciting that I never missed Matt Damon at any point, as Gilroy was able to pay respect to the previous films while charting a new course of action.
Oscar Isaac, who at one stage was Gilroy’s top pick for the lead role, got some terrific moments in that ominous log cabin, while the entire snow-set prologue was a refreshing and dynamic way to begin the film’s dense narrative. There’s also that glorious shot that spans the length of Ed Norton’s conference room table desk, where you see all of the various black-op programs that the government is involved in — Blackbriar, Treadstone, Outcome — I eat all of this stuff up. Norton, Stacy Keach, Scott Glenn, and Corey Stoll all added reliable support. I’m not sure why so many critics had so many beefs as it really feels like nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking. The final chase provides the visceral thrills, the chilling mid-film set piece with Željko Ivanek was startling and eerie, and Renner’s steely determination complimented the introverted work that Damon brought to the previous adventures. Robert Elswit POWER all over this movie, there’s a superb score by James Newton Howard, and Gilroy’s brother, John, handled the tight and crisp editing. This is a very underappreciated actioner.