8 Unanswered Questions We Had After Watching 'The Bourne Legacy'

8 Unanswered Questions We Had After Watching 'The Bourne Legacy'

Aug 13, 2012

Jason who? The absence of the title character didn't matter for moviegoers this weekend, who spent $40.3 million on The Bourne Legacy and all but ensured that there will be a fifth entry in the spies-who-don't-remember-things-very-well saga. As is usually the case with these things, though, the action can be confusing, the storyline complicated. We had some questions when it was over. Eight of them, to be exact. Let's take a big mouthful of Flintstones chewable chems and investigate.

(There are SPOILERS ahead. Big, fat, meaty ones. Don't read this unless you've seen The Bourne Legacy. I mean it! I'll know if you cheated.)

1. Where did Aaron Cross get the plane to fly from the snowy cabin back to civilization?

Never mind that a real man (Liam Neeson, specifically) would have fought those wolves hand-to-hand and walked the whole way back to Anchorage. Where did Cross find a plane after the cabin got blown up? I mean, obviously it must have been there. The guy who lived in the cabin probably had it so he could run errands. But if the existence of the plane was ever mentioned before the moment Cross needed it, I missed it.

2. They mention Aaron Cross' artificially inflated intelligence and discuss the risk that he'll get stupid again if he doesn't keep taking his pills (sorry, "chems"). Then he "virals out," problem solved. Uh, so why bring it up?

I was intrigued by the possibility of a Flowers for Algernon situation, wherein Aaron Cross would gradually get dumber, lose his critical-thinking skills, forget how to judo-chop dudes in the neck, etc. Imagine the possibilities of a secret agent on a desperate mission -- with Rachel Weisz depending on him -- as his brain power diminishes!

And you'll have to imagine it, because The Bourne Legacy doesn't do much with it. With nary an episode of decreased ability, Cross and Dr. Shearing get what they need from the Philippine drug factory, give Cross a permanent dose of the stuff to eliminate the need to take pills, and go on their merry way.

I wonder if the intent was to lay the groundwork for that plot line here and come back to it in a later sequel -- say, with another surviving agent who has become dangerous as he's gone off his meds, or with Cross himself starting to lose it due to unforeseen side effects. Dr. Shearing had to work hastily, so it would be reasonable if somewhere down the road it turns out she didn't do it right.

3. Does this mean that Jason Bourne used to take pills too? Did he "viral out" of them? Or did he come from a different program that didn't involve medication?

I suspect the answer here is the latter: Bourne's special abilities came through training and brainwashing, not through chemistry. Certainly there were no overt references in the other movies to a drug regimen enhancing his skills; if it turns out that Bourne needed meds to maintain his mojo, it will have been a retroactive story point.

But Bourne Legacy isn't what you'd call crystal clear on the details of the CIA's various programs and the way they overlap or don't overlap with each other. Cross and his fellow lab rats are called "Outcomes," a term that wasn't applied to Bourne (as far as I can recall) but which is also vague enough to be used generically: Bourne was the outcome of some kind of program, but not necessarily an Outcome outcome, you know? So maybe his background was different. Or maybe he did take the pills early on and was weaned off of them before we met him. Or maybe he still takes them and always just waits until we're not looking.

4. Why do they call them "chems"? Normal people would call them "drugs" or "pills" or maybe "meds." Nobody calls them "chems." Is that supposed to make it sound more covert and espionage-y? Maybe to distract us from the fact that this is essentially a movie about a drug addict who will kill as many people as necessary to get his fix?

5. That Thai dude is the greatest super-soldier ever created, he's indestructible, he has no empathy, yada yada -- and then he's defeated by a lady scientist kicking him off a motorcycle?


6. What are the implications of Dr. Foite (Zeljko Ivanek) apparently being manipulated into killing nearly everyone in the Sterisyn-Morlanta lab?

First of all, kudos to Zeljko Ivanek for an effective, chill-inducing horror scene. I was so caught up in it that I momentarily stopped playing the "Who's that guy and what do I recognize him from?" game in my head. (The answer: every TV show.)

Now, it's suggested that the reason Dr. Foite goes crazy-pants and shoots everybody is that he's been induced to do so by fancy mind-control drugs along the same lines as the ones Aaron Cross is hooked on. Does that mean that in addition to the spy-enhancing meds these guys have formulated, they also have one that will turn you into a mass murderer? Is it just one dose, or did they have to keep slipping it into Dr. Foite's food for several days? And how could they be sure he would kill these people in this laboratory? The other chems seem to be most effective when combined with hands-on training and conditioning: the spies take them as supplements to their regular spy routine, not as a replacement for it. But that couldn't have been the case here. Did they just give Dr. Foite the drug on a Monday (everybody hates Mondays) and hope for the best (worst)?

7. Wait, wait, wait -- so all this time they DID have a tripod and just chose not to use it?

Or did Tony Gilroy bring one from home?

8. Where is Jason Bourne, anyway?

Granted, we weren't counting on seeing him in Bourne Legacy. The whole reason we have Jeremy Renner is that Matt Damon didn't want to do another one, and if Damon showed up anyway, well, what would be the point? It would have been Leno and Conan all over again.

But what is our favorite amnesiac up to? He doesn't call, he doesn't write. Not a word letting us know he's safe, no public incidents bearing his signature, no assassins found dead in Paris with their necks snapped. The new movie doesn't so much as hint at where he might be. Mind you, it's not a flaw that this question isn't answered, just a storytelling choice. Clearly they're leaving their options open for later sequels. Maybe after Cross gets his trilogy he and Bourne will team up for a buddy comedy where they're handcuffed together and have to outrun a redneck sheriff (I'm just spitballing here).

If there are answers to these questions that I missed -- or if you have questions of your own -- let us know in the comments.

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