The Bourne Legacy is a 2012 American action thriller film directed by Tony Gilroy, and is the fourth installment in the series of films adapted from the Jason Bourne novels originated by Robert Ludlum and continued by Eric Van Lustbader, being preceded by The Bourne Identity (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007).
Although this film has the same title as Van Lustbader’s first Bourne novel, The Bourne Legacy, the actual screenplay bears little resemblance to the novel.
Unlike the novel, which features Jason Bourne as the principal character, the film centres on black ops agent Aaron Cross (played by Jeremy Renner), an original character. In addition to Renner, the film stars Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton.
The titular character Jason Bourne does not appear in The Bourne Legacy, as actor Matt Damon chose not to return for the fourth film, due to Paul Greengrass not directing. Bourne is shown in pictures and mentioned by name several times throughout the film. Tony Gilroy, co-screenwriter of the first three films, sought to continue the story of the film series without changing its key events, and parts of The Bourne Legacy take place at the same time as the previous film, The Bourne Ultimatum (2007).
Aaron Cross is a member of a black ops programme called Operation Outcome whose subjects are genetically enhanced. He must run for his life once former CIA Treadstone agent Jason Bourne’s actions lead to the public exposure of Operation Treadstone and its successor Operation Blackbriar.
Six weeks after Jason Bourne’s escape from Moscow in The Bourne Supremacy, Aaron Cross, an operative belonging to a Department of Defence black ops programme called Operation Outcome, is assigned to Alaska for a training exercise. He is forced to survive weather extremes and traverse rugged terrain to arrive at a remote cabin as punishment for missing training and going off the grid for four days. The cabin is operated by an exiled Outcome operative, Number Three, who informs Cross that he has broken the mission record by two days. As an Outcome operative, Cross uses experimental pills known as “chems” which enhance the physical and mental abilities of their users.
Retired Air Force Colonel Eric Byer is tasked with containing the fallout from the exposure of the Treadstone and Blackbriar programmes. He discovers a potentially scandalous video on the Internet showing a meeting between Treadstone and Outcome medical directors Albert Hirsch and Dan Hillcott. To prevent the Senate investigators from learning about Outcome, Byer orders everyone associated with the programme to be killed, seeing the sacrifice as acceptable to protect next-generation “beta programmes”, including the supersoldier programme LARX.
Byer deploys a drone to eliminate Cross and Number Three in Alaska. Cross evades the drone and force-feeds his radio-frequency identification to a wolf which is then blown up by a missile, tricking Byer into believing Cross is dead. At Sterisyn-Morlanta, a biogenetics company supporting Outcome, researcher Dr. Donald Foite shoots and kills all but one of his colleagues in the research laboratory. After being cornered by guards, Foite turns his gun on himself, leaving biochemist Dr. Marta Shearing as the sole survivor. Other Outcome agents are eliminated when their handlers give them poisoned yellow pills disguised as new chems.
Four “D-Trac” assassins disguised as federal agents visit Shearing at her country house. When she states her belief of Foite having been chemically brainwashed into becoming an emotionless killer, the assassins attempt to fake her suicide, but are killed by Cross. Shearing reveals that Cross has been genetically modified by a tailored virus to retain the physical benefits permanently without needing the green chems anymore. He still requires regular doses of blue chems to maintain his intelligence, but he is running out. Cross confides to her that he is Private First Class Kenneth J. Kitsom, reportedly killed by an improvised explosive device in the Iraq War, and that his recruiter added twelve points to his IQ, enabling Cross to meet the United States Army’s requirements. Without his enhanced intelligence, Cross believes they stand no chance of survival. Cross and Shearing travel to Manila, where the chems are manufactured, to try to infect him with another virus that will make his intelligence permanent.
Cross and Shearing bluff their way into the Morlanta Pacific pharmaceutical factory and Shearing injects Cross with the live virus stems. Byer alerts factory security, but they evade capture. Byer then orders LARX-03, a chemically-brainwashed supersoldier, to track and kill them. As Cross is struck by flu-like symptoms induced by the virus, he hallucinates about his Outcome training. When police surround their shelter while Shearing is buying medicine, Cross rescues her and steals a motorbike. After a lengthy chase through the streets and marketplaces of Manila and Marikina, they lose the police and kill LARX-03. Shearing persuades a Filipino boatman to help them escape by sea.
Back in New York, Blackbriar supervisor Noah Vosen lies to the Senate, stating that Blackbriar was created solely to track down Jason Bourne, and that Deputy Director Pamela Landy committed treason by assisting Bourne and trying to sell Treadstone secrets to the press.
- Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross.
- Rachel Weisz as Dr. Marta Shearing.
- Edward Norton as Eric Byer.
- Stacy Keach as Mark Turso.
- Dennis Boutsikaris as Terrence Ward.
- Oscar Isaac as Outcome #3.
- Joan Allen as Pamela Landy.
- Albert Finney as Dr. Albert Hirsch.
- David Strathairn as Noah Vosen.
- Scott Glenn as Ezra Kramer.
- Donna Murphy as Dita Mandy.
- Michael Chernus as Arthur Ingram.
- Corey Stoll as Zev Vendel.
- Željko Ivanek as Dr. Donald Foite.
- Shane Jacobson as Mackie.
- Elizabeth Marvel as Dr. Connie Dowd.
- John Douglas Thompson as General Paulsen.
- Louis Ozawa Changchien as LARX #3.
- David Wilson Barnes as Drone Spec.
- Neil Brooks Cunningham as Dr. Dan Hillcott.
- Corey Johnson as Ray Wills.
- Michael Berresse as Leonard.
- John Arcilla as Joseph.
- Lou Veloso as Captain.
- The Bourne Identity (2002).
- The Bourne Supremacy (2004).
- The Bourne Ultimatum (2007).
- The Bourne Legacy (2012).
- Jason Bourne (2016).
You can find a full index of Treadstone (TV Series) here.
You can find a full index and overview of the Bourne Franchise here.
- Universal Pictures originally intended The Bourne Ultimatum to be the final film in the series, but development of another film was under way by October 2008.
- Filming was primarily in New York City, with some scenes shot in the Philippines, South Korea, Pakistan, and Canada.
- Released on 10 August 2012, the film received mixed reviews, with critics praising the story, but expressing disappointment in Matt Damon’s absence.
- The film was followed in 2016 by Jason Bourne, in which Damon reprised his role.
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Tony Gilroy
- Producer(s): Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley, Jeffrey M. Weiner, and Ben Smith.
- Writer(s): Tony Gilroy and Dan Gilroy.
- Music: James Newton Howard.
- Cinematography: Robert Elswit.
- Editor(s): John Gilroy.
- Production: Relativity Media, The Kennedy/Marshall Company, Captivate Entertainment.
- Distributor(s): Universal Pictures.
- Release Date: 30 July 2012 (New York) and 10 August 2012 (US general release).
- Running Time: 135 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.