"The Bourne Ultimatum" was the last of the trilogy starring Matt Damon and appeared to close what was one of the most thrilling and successful action franchises in ages. Matt Damon was an unexpected but terrific choice for the role, excellent in the action sequences and able to give the fairly quiet role a great deal of depth and feeling. Directors Doug Liman (the first film) and Paul Greengrass (the second and third) were also able to give the three pictures a tight, tense pace and some highly memorable action scenes.
About as unexpected as the choice of Damon in the lead role of the trilogy is this fourth film, which veers off in a different direction and offers a different character. "The Bourne Legacy" takes place on about the same time as the third film in the trilogy and instead focuses on a different agent, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner). The film opens in Alaska with Cross having, well, crossed remarkably rugged terrain to arrive at a program-sponsored cabin, where he's told he broke the previous record. He also reveals that he needs more drugs, "chems" that help achieve the added boosts that the program operatives used.
Elsewhere, when it becomes apparent that word of the government's black ops programs has been leaked, one of the heads of the organization (Edward Norton) sets out to have all traces of the program wiped out. When they arrive at Cross, he manages to escape and lead his former superiors to believe they'd taken care of him.
Yet, he's still without his meds. So, he manages to save a doctor (Rachel Weisz) he believes knows about locating more - a tip that eventually leads them both to a manufacturing plant in Manila. While part of his desperation to find more meds is to keep him focused and able while being chased by operatives, another reason is eventually revealed.
The meds are the movie, and that's the film's real issue. While the reason the character needs them makes sense (although - and it's been a few years, so maybe I don't remember - I don't think meds were ever mentioned or seemed required by Bourne's agent), having the movie be focused on the journey for these meds doesn't make for a terribly full plot, nor the same level of lead and supporting character development that the prior three films saw.
Renner and Weisz are fine in their roles. Norton and other supporting performances are acceptable, but the characters (some of which appear briefly in carryover roles from the original trilogy, such as Joan Allen's Pamela Landy) are not as developed and are not the focus. Renner is not as strong in the role as Damon was as Bourne, but it's also a different character and a different approach/feel. The picture is directed by writer Tony Gilroy (who also was the writer for the first three films) and it's not as strong an effort by the debut director. The film's action sequences are fine, although not up to the same level as those in the prior films.
"Legacy" inconsistently works, and stands as a passable branching off for the franchise, similar to "Reach" and "ODST" (the latter I particularly liked) were to the mega-popular "Halo" video game series, which branched off from the adventures of the main character. If the "Bourne" trilogy continues, hopefully it will continue with the Bourne character.
The Blu-Ray edition also includes the DVD release.
VIDEO: "Legacy" is presented in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC) and the results on this transfer from Universal are quite nice. Sharpness and detail are first-rate, as - aside from a couple of moments here-and-there - the picture remained clean and detailed. A few minor instances of edge enhancement intrude, but otherwise the presentation appeared pristine, with terrific colors and accurate skin tones.
SOUND: The film's DTS-HD 7.1 presentation is perfectly pleasing, with powerful, bassy effects during the film's action sequences and solid use of the rear speakers for ambience and other details during the film's chattier stretches. Audio quality is fine, with crisp, clear dialogue and well-recorded effects.
EXTRAS: Tony Gilroy, Dan Gilroy, John Gilroy, 2nd Unit Director Dan Bradley, cinematographer Robert Elswit and Production Designer Kevin Thompson. We also get a number of short promotional "making of" featurettes as well as several minutes of deleted scenes with commentary. Upon starting the disc, there are several trailers for upcoming movies from the studio. BD-Live and D-box functionality are included. The commentary is really the key extra, as while I didn't always find the movie without concerns, the group provided a consistently terrific, insightful and entertaining discussion, with plenty of mention of production obstacles, location filming in various global locales and working with the actors.
Final Thoughts: "Legacy" works inconsistently, managing some tense moments and fine performances but the film has a difficult time standing up to the original trilogy of films. Still, it's worth a try for those who are fans of the franchise. The Blu-Ray offers very nice audio/video quality, as well as a respectable selection of supplements.
The Film B-