|Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross|
So what of The Bourne Legacy? The narrative is set within the same time frame of Jason Bourne's excursion to New York in which he infiltrates the CIA. The focus this time is on Aaron Cross, another CIA operative who ends up being betrayed in order to minimise the political fallout from the Jason Bourne scandal. Cross is the latest covert CIA operation; a lab experiment enhancing both his strength and intelligence. The plot is somewhat of a regurgitation of the Bourne films and offers few surprises in the way Cross attempts to regain his identity. What makes Legacy such a worthy follow up is the way Gilroy chooses to maintain political intrigue with a genuinely exciting handling of the action set pieces. Strangely enough, Legacy felt more like a traditional thriller than the other Bourne films and although this may seem like one of the conventional aspects of the film, it gives the narrative a tautness. One of the best and politically prescient sequences takes place near the beginning. A remote controlled drone is used to carry out a strike against two of the CIA operatives; one of them is killed while Cross manages to escape. It might be the first ever death by drone representation in a Hollywood film. With so many deaths on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border over the years, the use of drone technology to commit atrocities underlines an ugly detachment from the crime and the cowardly ability to never see the people, just a target. Even more chilling is the notion that by removing the human element from target assassinations, the crime becomes altogether more unreal, thus eliminating any contemplations of guilt. The thriller and action genre derive from the chase film or narrative which emerged in the early days of film and Legacy at its most simplistic is an extended geopolitical chase film with an ending non to similar to the previous Bourne films. Both Renner and Weisz are well cast and offer solid performances but their pairing lacks a certain chemistry which was present between Damon and Potente in the first film. Edward Norton shows up as a scheming CIA suit with plenty of hackneyed political dialogue that we have heard so many times before. Legacy is a well crafted spy/action thriller but for me it lacks the sustained ideological engagement to put it in the category of Gilroy's debut Michael Clayton.