For the fourth movie in a trilogy, The Bourne Legacy isn’t so bad. It overlaps some of The Bourne Supremacy with the CIA and military reeling after Jason Bourne publicly exposes the secret programs - Treadstone and Blackbriar - from the original trilogy. Eric Byer (Edward Norton) is brought in for damage control. He decides to end the current incarnation of these programs - Outcome - so as to hopefully keep the next generations viable - by killing existing agents. All but one, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), are killed. Cross barely escapes into the Alaskan wilderness. He has to come back to Washington though because his enhancements require him to be on a medication schedule and he is running out.
Meanwhile a researcher (Željko Ivanek, from one of my favorites, Homicide) goes on a killing spree in a lab, wiping out all of his colleagues save for Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz). He kills himself before security can bring him down. It’s clear that this isn’t a co-worker snapping, but rather a mission to eliminate those with knowledge of Outcome. At home Shearing is visited by agents pretending to be investigators who attempt to pose a suicide.
Suddenly Cross breaks into the house and dispatches four agents with martial arts, firearms, and explosives. They escape to the Philippines where Shearing knows the pills Cross needs are manufactured. Cross fears he will revert to his pre-enhanced self, a mentally deficient army recruit. Not only is his strength and quickness enhanced but he is hyper intelligent. If that goes he’ll no chance of outwitting the government and staying alive. Shearing engineers a virus that will eliminate the need for the pills. Cross in a weakened state after receiving the injection is able to defeat another enhanced agent. The two escape and sail away happily like Jason Bourne in one of the earlier movies.
From the start, with the drone attack on Cross in Alaska, we see more computer aided special effects. Right after that Cross captures a wolf and forces it to ingest a tracking chip as a way to throw off the drone. Again, computer graphics, this time not really believable. There is still plenty of physical action, with hand to hand combat in Shearing’s home and in the pharmaceutical factory in Manilla.
The murder-suicide scene is probably the most realistically intense scene. There was something about Željko Ivanek’s character methodically stalking unarmed, educated, middle-aged researchers that got my heart racing. It’s probably because it was the danger any office worker could imagine themselves in.
The final foot and motorcycle chase with Manilla cops, Cross, and an enhanced agent (Louis Ozawa Changchien) sent by Bryer to kill Cross is also pretty good. It's fast moving and action packed. It had some visible computer graphics that the original movies either didn't have or that they hid better, but never really went over the top with explosions or unrealistic stunts. It probably wasn’t as good as the best scenes in the first three movies but it kept true to what made the Bourne movies good, namely eschewing too much computer graphics in action scenes.
Jeremy Reyner isn't Matt Damon but he was good. Ed Norton is always a treat. I wish he would do more movies. A good job was done of keeping continuity despite losing Damon. Though he wasn't in the movie they mentioned him and even showed his picture several times. Though she didn't play a major role, Landy makes an appearance as her character is the payday in the Jason Bourne damage control. Footage from the previous movie - the assassination of the journalist - is even shown.