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The Bourne Legacy

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for violence and action sequences.

Reviewed by: Scott Brennan

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Action Adventure Spy Mystery Thriller Drama Sequel
2 hr. 15 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
August 10, 2012 (wide—3,600+ theaters)
DVD: December 11, 2012
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

spies in the Bible





Featuring: Jeremy RennerAaron Cross
Edward NortonByer
Rachel WeiszMarta
Donna Murphy … Dita
Joan AllenPam Landy
Scott GlennEzra Kramer
Oscar Isaac#3
Albert Finney … Dr. Albert Hirsch
David StrathairnNoah Vosen
Stacy KeachTurso
See all »
Director: Tony Gilroy
Producer: Bourne Film Productions
Bourne Four Productions
See all »
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“There was never just one.”

“Bourne again,” only this time it’s Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) not, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) who has resurrected this series. Renner’s career has taken off like a rocket in recent years, moving nearly as fast as he was in the motorcycle sequences of this film, “The Bourne Legacy.” Since he secured the Oscar® nomination for his role in “The Hurt Locker” he has been on the big screen with regularity, most recently set up to continue the “Mission: Impossible” franchise with his successful co-starring role in “Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.” Now, the reset button has been pushed once more on another successful franchise, and it’s Renner at the helm again.

There is not a whole lot to say about the film, other than it’s a formula that works. Based on my review of this film last evening, I will say that Renner is a well placed substitute for Damon, assuring the continued success of the franchise ($1 Billion strong). “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” comes to mind, and they didn’t. If you liked the first three films of the Bourne Series, you will probably like this one, with one caveat: it may be too violent. The plot remains the same, much like one in a typical 007 film, but Tony Gilroy, a writer on one of the earlier Bourne films has created an entirely new story—only this time—he is also at the helm as director.

Aaron Cross (Renner) is a genetically enhanced CIA assassin who was a part of a program similar to the one that created Jason Bourne, called “Treadstone.” As in the Jason Bourne series, Cross is targeted for assassination himself when it is decided that this additional secret program is to be shut down. Aaron is also cut off from his daily ration of special meds which sustain his biological superiority.

The film opens on Renner surviving the first attack on his life in a remote area of Alaska, where he fights off both wolves and a sophisticated drone. But his need for the drugs, to continue to survive, forces him to seek out Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), the only surviving scientist who may be able to help him. Predictably, they need to travel to another country to make that happen, and so the chase begins, with the unlikely couple charging through a series of unfortunate events with multiple murders and assassinations, ending in Manila with even more mayhem.

The men in charge of making this problem go away, along with the remaining vestiges of problems leftover from the story in the last film, are Retired Col. Eric Byer (Edward Norton) and Admiral Mark Turso (Stacy Keach). Each of them play their cold and calculating roles well, maintaining damage control in D.C., and doing what needs to be done, from their perspective.

While I heard at least 10 common phrases using God’s name in slang, along with a half a dozen uses of the “s” word and a dozen uses of “hell”, that wasn’t what disturbed me the most. It was the violence. I spoke to this in my final summary of “The Dark Knight” review recently, but it bears repeating. The violence is increasing in our films today, and there is little doubt of the desensitization that is occurring among viewers. There is a particular scene of workplace violence that is far too realistic and went on for several minutes in the film—which this reviewer believes was gratuitous and totally unwarranted. I believe Tony Gilroy went over the top by adding this to the script and to the movie. None of the previous films in the Bourne series had anything close to this kind of violence. We see this enough in our nightly newscasts—and with the recent Aurora, Colorado shooting, we need to ask ourselves—is life imitating art? At the very least, this film should have been rated “R” for the violence. It is extreme. I had to turn away and close my eyes during several scenes, something I had not done in the Bourne trilogy.

Caution: This movie is not suitable for children or even early teens. I would categorize it only for adults or mature teens—if you were going to see it at all. While the formula worked, and the adrenaline flowed, and although there are lots of motor cycle chase scenes and roof top jumps—enough to adequately sustain the action thriller junky—it comes at a cost: the imprint of extreme violence is written upon the tablet of the human heart. Truly, only God knows its final outcome. I normally give these action thrillers a pass on morality and end up saying “average” for its genre. Not this time. The violence pushed it well into the offensive category.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—“The Bourne Legacy” is an outstanding film. If you enjoy the Jason Bourne movies and/or novels, I would highly recommend it. The events which occur in this movie are parallel to the events and aftermath of “The Bourne Ultimatum.” So, if you have not seen it, I would suggest watching it, before seeing this movie in the theater. Overall, the plot was interesting, as well as entertaining. Not only is it packed with a lot of action, but there are also some sci-fi aspects (i.e., genetic mutation) included, too. Though it’s called The “Bourne” Legacy, Jason Bourne is only mentioned during certain parts of the film and shown in photos. The main protagonist is Aaron Cross, another CIA assassin, like Jason Bourne. While Jason Bourne has many aliases and identities, he shouldn’t be confused with Aaron Cross, who is a completely different agent with similar skills akin to Bourne.

There is profanity and a lot of violence, which can be expected in any espionage thriller. Therefore, I would recommend this movie to mostly anyone 17 and up. Morally, there isn’t much value, other than the film could be seen as a battle between the forces of good and evil. Other than that, the main antagonist wishes to terminate the Outcome program by destroying any evidence, including the assassination of their own Outcome agents, in order to put a lid on anything which could negatively affect the public’s perception of the people running the CIA program. Thus the antagonist wishes to suppress the truth at all costs, even if it comes down to killing “their most valuable” assets.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
Paul, age 23 (USA)
Positive—I should have listed it as “neutral,” because of the ending! As one reviewer stated, it was like slamming the brakes when going on high speed. Couldn’t phrase it better! When the movie ended with the original Moby theme song, the audience was confused, nobody got up from their seats, even after the credits started rolling! It may part of another trilogy, but it has a very unsatisfying ending, like you are getting out of the movie half way through. Still, this is a gripping thriller, and really enjoyed it, like other Bourne thrillers. No sexual content, not even kissing, and I don’t think any brutal violence or blood. Enjoy the movie, and wait for the sequel.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Cyril Thomas, age 32 (United Kingdom)
Positive—Although I thought this movie didn’t have quite the Bourne vibe that we’re used to, I still really enjoyed it. Great acting by Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz; their characters were really likable.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Kadie Jo, age 20 (USA)
Positive—This movie was VERY good! I don’t know what some of these people are talking about that it was boring, I don’t know what movie they were watching. It was CONSTANT action. Yes, violence and lots of cold blood killing, which I don’t like that part, but was expected in a Bourne film. But most of the time, the guy was just protecting himself from someone trying to kill him. And it was so interesting trying to figure out what was going on, I didn’t even care how they tied Bourne into it, which they did. Sure, I did not like the drug part to be a more powerful person, but when you look at it from a scientific perspective, that is what the scientists were doing. Definitely not for young children and certainly not a Christian film in ANY perspective, nor was I expecting it to be. But as far as action is concerned, I think it’s one of the best Bournes! I didn’t know if I would like it without him in it. Started off a little slow, but it picks up. Certainly didn’t feel like a 2½ hour movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Samantha Taylor, age 37 (USA)
Positive—I would rate this movie “average,” because I’m surprised that this movie is rated “very offensive” on Christian Spotlight. This has to be one of the cleanest Bourne movies, the first Bourne movie was more offensive than this. I loved Jeremy Renner’s acting in here. The beginning made me wonder if I was actually watching the right movie. But I loved this Bourne movie more than the others. Rachel Weisz’s acting was great, as well. The only thing that was offensive in the movie was the language, in my opinion (Jesus” name in vain). But it wasn’t that bad compared to the original Bourne movies (language-profanity and swearing was 2x the amount than this one). I wish there was more action in here, but I would so watch this movie again!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Anna, age 20 (USA)
Neutral—hmmm… I’m not really sure what to think about the events that took place in “The Bourne Legacy.” I guess that’s the point. I can’t really draw anything from it. All I can say is that it was indeed a movie… Not much more. Though there were many exciting action sequences, and Jeremy Renner did a fine job playing the “Bourne” type role, it felt like the scenes were thrown together without much thought. I suppose it was entertaining throughout, but not to the same caliber as the original trilogy. I’d have to say my biggest disappointment was the end! Or lack of an end. It felt like someone slamming on the breaks while going highway speed. Uncomfortable and unsatisfying.

From a moral perspective, I got what I expected from a Bourne film. And much like its predecessors, the film had a lack of sexual content. That’s what I’ve always liked about the films! The language was present, but not unlike real world circumstances. In other words, it was nothing like “Scarface” and more like what I hear at work every day. If you are sensitive to violence, then this should be an obvious film to avoid. It’s a film about an assassin—kinda comes with the territory. Overall, “The Bourne Legacy” would make a fine rental movie. Enough said.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
Mike, age 25 (USA)
Neutral—If you are interested in viewing “The Bourne Legacy,” I would recommend reading the first three paragraphs of Brennan’s review above. Usually, I am reluctant to do so on account of possible spoilers, but I think it will help you understand what’s going on. My first complaint is that I thought the plot was lacking, and that is a very critical component to any story. Ironically, I still very much enjoyed the movie and found it very intense, and I am looking forward to the next installment. Solid acting and typical Bourne action kept me glued to the seat.

Another thing that bothered me, however, is the way Hollywood has continued to vilify U.S. intelligence throughout the Bourne series, making them look like crazy Communists or something worse. This does not represent Robert Ludlum’s original books, at all. As a matter of fact, in the second book, the U.S. government actually sets Bourne up with a job teaching at a university and agrees to allow him to retire from service. Just about the only thing the movies have in common with the books is Jason Bourne himself, and, now, disappointed to say, they do not even have him. Although I did like Jason Renner and his character, Matt Damon as Bourne was unbeatable. Concluding thought, I was impressed that the movie avoided the sexuality that pervades the 007 films.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
J. Paul, age 42 (USA)
Negative—…No one in this movie walked in the Spirit, as we all should. Extremely violent. Blaspheming the name of our Lord. Killing and more killing. I would not recommend this movie to any brother or sister in the Lord. Do not support this version of a Hollywood movie. It only reminded me how wicked this world is, and you can not trust anyone but the Lord. Clearly shows the wicked destroying the wicked.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
Michael, age 54 (USA)
Negative—Worst film I have seen in a long time. Could not make the connection to the Matt Damon trilogy, at all. Movie was a complete waste of time and money.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
Bob, age 67 (USA)
Negative—This movie was boring. I went with a friend, and we both looked at each other and said, “what a waste.” It had a bad plot. It explained nothing and was very slow. I also didn’t like the reliance on drugs to achieve a “super human.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
Bob, age 28 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—The movie, overall, was spectacular, with excellent sequences of action. The language was a problem, and there was an extremely upsetting scene that I had to turn away for—the scene where a gone-rouge scientist kills everyone in his office, and then himself. The scene is extremely graphic, he kills several women, all who we see pleading for mercy before he fires several shots into them. The scene ends with him putting the gun into his mouth and pulling the trigger. The other violence in the movie is typical, similar to the action in the last ones, just much more in quantity. With the slaughter/suicide scene, I think the movie should be rated “R” and should not be viewed by ANYONE under 16. Besides that, the movie was pretty good, with a good plot (just wished they would have talked about Jason more)
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
James, age 15 (USA)
Positive—This movie was a good addition the Bourne movies. Good story, great action, and really good movie making quality. There was nothing offensive, other than a few uses of the Lord,s name. Throughout the movie, the two main characters fall in love, but, other than holding hands, there was nothing romantic, which surprised me. I enjoyed it and give it two thumbs up!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Sarah Kay, age 16 (USA)
Neutral—I went to see this film and was a little sceptical about it, because of the change in the main character, but I think it was a great film and a really good follow up to the other three films. I think that Jeremy Renner was a great choice to replace Matt Damon, and I would love to see the next one, if they bring another one out. However, the reason that I gave it a neutral was because of the language, which really let the film down. Especially at the beginning/middle of the film, there was quite a bit of strong language. That was the only thing that I thought let the film down, I am not completely sure how many times there was swearing, but it think it makes it seem worse, because they are normally said more than once, at one time. However, I do think that it was a great film, and I would watch it again.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Connie, age 15 (United Kingdom)

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