The Bourne Identity was the first in an excellent trio of movies which were challengers to the Bond series.
This movie, however, is no more than an average wannabe-pretender.
Despite Matt Damon and the director of the second and third Bourne movies, Paul Greengrass, opting not to play a role in this production, the studio went ahead and made it anyway, milking author Robert Ludlum’s creation for all it was worth.
Although Matt Damon is not in this film, we regularly see the picture of his character, Jason Bourne, and he is referred to a lot.
Major supporting characters from the previous movies are seen, although this is not a sequel.
The main character is a soldier who has greatly enhanced skills and was part of a government programme, but the film is not a re-make.
Confusing and consequently a weak film compared to its predecessors, The Bourne Legacy displays a fault so commonly found with poor, “cash-in” associated productions.
The story follows Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) on his mission to find medicine which was administered to him as part of a US government “Super-Soldier” programme which was also part of the other Bourne movies.
After a lengthy introduction in which we are shown his survival skills we finally learn of his identity and purpose as he finds and saves a scientist, Dr Mart Shearing (Rachel Weisz) who was part of the development team for the drug he needs to maintain his enhanced abilities.
Together they try to stay one step ahead of their pursuers, led by Edward Norton who does a fine job as Eric Byer, the head of the secretive government team who are trying to smother references to Bourne-associated activity.
It’s a reasonable film to watch but there are an awful lot of problems the more you think about the story.
It is set at the same time as the third Bourne film and so the references to Bourne being still on the run, ongoing court proceedings and cover-ups with characters from those films are over-used.
When the action occurs, it is quite gripping and well executed although I felt that it did take too long to establish who the main character was and what the film was about.
In direct contrast to the sluggish beginning, the rest of the film accelerates throughout; the final action sequence is too long, the film ends rather abruptly and unfortunately may be seen to suggest a sequel, remake, reboot... or whatever one would refer to another film in this expanded world as!
The Bourne Identity was a breath of fresh air for spy movies and gave the Bond franchise a warning shot.
At one point it seemed the spy we would know as JB would now be Jason Bourne, but after three good films and with Bond’s Skyfall being as successful as it has, this recent poor relation to Bourne has surely signalled the end of the challenge – although I have heard rumours of Damon’s willingness to return...