The quintessential moment of The Bourne Legacy, which continues and expands the scope of the first three Bourne movies, comes when one top-secret intel type tells another, of a hit squad, “That was a D-Track team we sent in there!” (or, possibly, “That was a detrac team we sent in there!”). The second official replies, “I don’t know what that is.”
Neither do I, and neither do you, and for long stretches of the film, which stars a thoroughly convincing Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross, a walking lethal weapon who is part of the same program that yielded Jason Bourne, The Bourne Legacy is completely incomprehensible. There are reams of jargon, heaps of secret code names, miles of exposition. Yet I was completely enthralled by this magnificent mumbo-jumbo. As Woody Allen says at the end of Sleeper, “I don’t know what the hell that means but it sounds brilliant.”
This time Matt Damon declined to participate so we begin with Renner, the The Hurt Locker star, diving underwater in frigid Alaska on some sort of spy scavenger hunt. He doesn’t know what he’s doing there and, even after the movie ended, I didn’t either either. His Aaron Cross pulls off some nifty stunts to survive, then runs into a fellow secret agent and narrowly escapes death. Back in D.C. the back-office hacks led by Eric Byer (Norton) are trying to kill him with drones. Cross finds a tracking device in his leg, cuts it out, and for some reason decides it needs to go down the throat of a live wolf to fool the drones. Couldn’t he just throw it away and let the drone hit it where it lies? Still, watching Renner tangle with a wolf is lively stuff, and things are just getting going.