Aaron Cross is the new hero of the Bourne franchise.

Ten years ago, in 2002, Jason Bourne discovered went looking for his Identity, in 2004 Bourne appeared once again to unleash his Supremacy and in 2007 he never actually delivered an Ultimatum but this was the title of the film nonetheless. Now, the year is 2012 and a new leading agent, Aaron Cross, is dealing with the aftermath of Bourne’s actions, the Legacy that has been left behind.

The Bourne Legacy was always going to be a difficult task. The original trilogy of Bourne films are critically acclaimed and even more loved by fans, it is one of the most successful and greatest trilogies of all time without a bad film in the franchise. Now, minus Matt Damon in the lead role and Paul Greengrass in the director’s chair the task becomes even harder. A good move by the studio was to hire Tony Gilroy to write the fourth film, which would turn into a sequel/reboot/paraquel, since he wrote the original trilogy as well. And what started out as simply writing the first draft turned into a full writing and directing job for Gilroy meaning that they had someone in control who could capture the essence of the original films and was already involved in the Bourne universe rather than bringing in a stranger.

It doesn’t get much cooler than this.

Legacy does a fantastic job of both establishing a new character, story and opening up the story as well as coupling these events with the actions that take place within The Bourne Ultimatum. The opening scene pretty much does this immediately with Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) beginning the film in the same way Jason Bourne left it: lying motionless in the water before suddenly moving into action. The occasional mention of Jason Bourne help to keep the film in the same universe without relying on it too much to continue the story.

Action scenes have always been vital in the Bourne franchise and these have been lauded by fans over and over again because they are perfectly choreographed and have a proper gritty sense of realism. There are worries at the beginning that this may not be the case with The Bourne Legacy as it takes a while for some big fight scenes to take place. Instead we have to settle for Aaron Cross finding his way through some mountains, shooting a few things with a rifle and bonding with some other random agent in a log cabin in the snow. There is a little taster of what’s to come when Cross takes on a wolf but then the action gets so much better when Cross tracks down and saves Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), killing four people in the process using everything from the ordinary (a gun) to the unexpected that Bourne is known for (a table, fire extinguisher). The stunts and fight scenes are just as good, if not better in my opinion, as the original trilogy’s.

Renner and Weisz prove a winning combination on screen.

The performances from everyone in the cast are very solid. Jeremy Renner, continuing his great year following Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and The Avengers, is brilliant in the lead role and has fantastic chemistry with Rachel Weisz which really helps in the believability of their relationship towards one another as it builds through the film. Weisz herself is actually very good as well. Ed Norton doesn’t have much to do unfortunately but I anticipate a bigger role for him in the sequel which The Bourne Legacy certainly leaves itself open to and I wouldn’t be surprised if a script was already being written as I write this.

The Bourne Legacy does exactly what it needs to. It does a great job of exploring the world that we know Bourne lives in and gives insight to how his actions have affected people’s lives that were never given a second thought to before. With Matt Damon leaving this was a great direction to go. It doesn’t quite live up to the original trilogy but what it does is leave itself open for it’s own franchise to be headed by Jeremy Renner and hopefully Tony Gilroy will stay on writing duties even if he steps down from directing. Fans of the first three films should enjoy The Bourne Legacy but it is a hard place to jump in to what is already a pretty complicated series of films.

My Rating: 7/10.

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