This is one of the many reboots/remakes/semi-sequels of the summer. There is a new director and new main actor and the first of the Bourne movies to not be a Robert Ludlum book but merely based on the concept. It is brilliantly titled, though according to IMDb.com trivia, someone on the production team called it, The Bourne Redundancy. Either way, it was going to make money and that is why it was made. The idea of Legacy is an important concept for every person so we will explore that after we take a look at the movie itself.
The backlash of Jason Bourne’s actions to reveal the conspiracy of Operation Blackbriar and Project Treadstone has led CIA to hunt down and kill all of the super soldiers connected with the Project Outcome. These men depend on pills to enhance their mind and body, but we are left to assume what would happen if they are not able to get their fix. As they are systematically murdered, only Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) gets away. Cross also happens to be the one who shows signs of questioning the status quo. This of course makes him the perfect man to go after the ones who are trying to kill him. After convincing the CIA that he is dead, he seeks out Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), the doctor who used to administer his examinations, shots, and pills. Shearing narrowly escapes her own CIA cleansing where she worked and later rescued by Cross. Together Cross and Shearing team up to run from the CIA in order to “viral off” Cross so that he doesn’t need to take the pills any longer.
I wish I could unpack the plot further on the side of the CIA, but to be honest it has been awhile since I watched the Bourne trilogy and I found myself asking my friend, Matt, what was going on just to keep up. I believe this was a challenge for the producers and director. Without Matt Damon how can the Bourne series continue on under that name? The idea of Legacy was clever for the series to continue, but I wonder if they tried too much to connect the series with the other films. There was in my mind an overdependence, which I felt the effects because I hadn’t seen the earlier films in about two years. I am sure they will have to keep Jason Bourne in there just for the name sake. I have heard the rumor that they are trying to get Matt Damon back. That might be better.
The action sequences were tight, well shot, and executed. The Bourne-esq chase scene at the end, however, seemed to go on forever. I personally found the Larx character at the end to be ridiculous. Larx is commissioned to go after Cross and is supposedly just as capable physically and mentally but the CIA somehow managed to take away his empathy. How this is revealed in his character is that he is actually reckless, not caring for consequences for shooting cops and wrecking buses, not simply lacking empathy but the subtlety of the other soldiers. But everyone is after Cross so no one seemed to care…and his build up is a letdown as he goes down like a chump.
Renner gives a solid performance as always, though there is not much range with his character. At least not yet. Weiss is excellent and all the scenes with Edward Norton commanded attention, but I was left wondering why should I care for any of these characters. What is Aaron Cross’ motivation? Is it just to survive? Is it vengeance? With the Bourne Identity, we had the intriguing plot of a man trying to find his identity. In Legacy I wondered why Cross started to question what he was doing and why. I am sure they will unpack this in the later movies, but with all the previous Bourne movies there was enough resolution to end the series after each film. It is not the case with this one.
It is an entertaining movie, though it seemed confused about its own identity. We are left wondering if this is a Jason Bourne movie or rather an Aaron Cross movie. I am not sure if there is much of a difference or if it even matters.
A Legacy That Matters
One thing I would like to address is the concept of Legacy, which I thought was well illustrated by the mere existence of Aaron Cross and this film. Jason Bourne in the previous films turned a Black Ops program on its head as he gained a conscience. Desiring freedom and redemption he fights against the system that created him. There are so many themes that one could explore in that trilogy, but the point I want to make is that Jason Bourne’s actions did not end with him. He started something and influenced a movement. “Jason Bourne is just the tip of the iceberg,” says one of the main characters in Legacy. One of my favorite scenes in the film is when Aaron Cross is lying in the bed and looks up to see Jason Bourne’s name etched in the wood. He had been there and had already paved the way for a corrupt program to be taken down.
I have often thought about what I want my legacy to be in this life. What do I want to leave to my children and my children’s children? Before I started walking with the LORD, the legacy I wanted to leave was to change the game of basketball through my exceptional ability. This would prove before too long that this was not my destined legacy to leave. Is there something more than temporal things? Can I leave a mark on eternity? This has been all the more prevalent in my mind now that I have children. How will they remember me? How would I want them to remember me? I hope the answer to these questions will be the same for both.
This past summer we worked our way through Paul’s second letter to Timothy, his disciple. Paul is at the end of his life and we see more heartfelt personal emotion expressed in this letter more than any other we have in the New Testament. What is this message that he wants to communicate before he leaves? Paul gives many commands to Timothy to remember: preach the Gospel, share in suffering, be sober-minded, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. These are all of the utmost importance, but in regard to legacy the two of the most important verses in this letter and indeed the whole Bible are 2 Timothy 2:1-2, which reads, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” And there it is; Discipleship at its finest. It is not enough for Timothy to do everything that Paul has taught and commanded him to be and to do. For Paul to have a lasting impact on this world, Timothy, his disciple, must train others to train others exactly what Paul trained Timothy.
A true and lasting legacy is built on the faithfulness to carry out the Great Commission in making Disciples of Jesus Christ. Disciples are Disciple-makers. When we train others to be conformed into the image of Christ and to train others to do so also, then we will have a lasting legacy, one that is marked by faithfulness to God and His commandments. At the end of our days, God willing, we can say with confidence as Paul said to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)