The Bourne Legacy shifts the blame from those bozos at the CIA to mysterious suit-wearing guys at the Pentagon and exposes a program designed to create genetically altered super soldiers. If you think that plot sounds like a paranoid liberal conspiracy theory or (alternately) a real science-based breach of national security that demands an investigation led by Congressman Peter King, then writer/director Tony Gilroy's sequel/reboot/alternate storyline revival of the series is probably just going to make you mad(der than you already are most of the time).
For the rest of you Bourne fans, this movie pretty cleverly solves the problems created when both the star and the director quit and the studio had to figure out a way to keep the franchise going.
Gilroy, who also wrote the other three films in the series, famously complained that director Paul Greengrass shredded his plot details in pursuit of the furious handheld action style perfected in The Bourne Ultimatum. Gilroy abandons that style and very purposefully sets out to have his conspiracy theories make sense here; the first third of Legacy is happening simultaneously with the action in Ultimatum and it's Jason Bourne's NYC rampage and exposure of the Treadstone spy program that inspires the Pentagon to shut down its own Outcome program.
Outcome involves chemically enhanced soldiers who maintain their improvements with a strict pill regimen. There's a lot of back-and-forth about how the military needs operatives willing to commit reprehensible acts for the collective good ("sin eaters") and that's how the suits justify Outcome's wipeout.Jeremy Renner's Aaron Cross spends most of the movie in withdrawals and determined to score; Rachel Weisz is the improbably attractive scientist who knows how to get him a permanent fix.
The first three quarters of the movie is lots of serious people having meetings, punctuated by a few explosions. That part totally works and brings to mind the best espionage movies from the '60s and '70s. Once Renner and Weisz escape from the drugs manufacturing facility, there's a motorcycle chase through the streets of Manila that seems to last forever. It's not awful, but you've seen better and then the movie just....stops.
Jeremy Renner's Aaron Cross isn't as interesting as Matt Damon's Jason Bourne. Tony Gilroy's direction is no match for the visual style that Paul Greengrass brought to the series. Still, The Bourne Legacy is way better than The Green Zone, the movie Damon and Greengrass abandoned this series to make. The bad guys wear suits and the good guys wear uniforms (aside from one gratuitous swipe at Army recruiters late in the movie).
Definitely worth your $12 and definitely worth a sequel.