The Bourne Legacy Movie Poster Image

The Bourne Legacy

Non-stop action sequel holds its own against predecessors.
Popular with kids
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 135 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The government is depicted as a manipulative organization that will toss people aside when they're no longer necessary.

Positive role models

Aaron Cross is trying to serve his country, but he soon learns that his country has no more need of his services and is trying to dispose of him. He makes references to being sent on missions that were morally indefensible but necessary, but none of that happens during the movie. He does demonstrate some compassion by protecting Stephanie and civilian characters, and Stephanie herself is a smart, capable female lead character. Cross' bosses don't even try to justify their efforts to hide their black-ops mess by killing anyone who knows too much, though they cloak their actions behind the veil of trying to do what's "necessary" to protect democracy.


Near non-stop action as Cross tries to escape a manhunt on two continents. Chases on foot and motorcycle, including some intense crashes and explosions, and plenty of fight scenes. Cross takes out his opponents with handguns, rifles, and often his fists, and some scenes include unpleasant images as he brutalizes people with his bare hands. Necks are snapped, and faces are bashed in.


There's no time for romance in The Bourne Legacy; it's all action, all the time.


Occasional swearing, including "s--t," "ass," "hell," "goddamn," and "oh my God."


The characters board an American Airlines flight at one point.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking by adults within a social context.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Bourne Legacy is the fourth installment in the blockbuster Bourne movie series, although this film splits from its namesake book to chronicle a new character entirely separate from Jason Bourne. (This is the first in the series not to star Matt Damon, though his character is mentioned several times.) This time, Jeremy Renner stars as a genetically modified agent who must flee for his life. Like the earlier Bourne movies, Legacy is a big-budget, fast-paced, smart action thriller with near non-stop action -- including explosions, motorcycle chases, and many, many fight scenes, some of which get quite brutal (necks snapped, faces smashed, etc.). There's also some swearing (including "s--t") and social drinking, but the constant action violence is the main issue here.

What's the story?

Agent Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is in the wilds of Alaska preparing for his next high-stakes mission. Left with hours in isolation, he's questioning the life he has chosen. Meanwhile, Jason Bourne has been spotted in New York, and journalists are beginning to delve into the elaborate netherworld of the government's top-secret intelligence agencies. The higher-ups, led by Eric Byer (Edward Norton), want to pull the plug on the entire operation -- all of it. Cross wants to untether himself from the agency, but first he needs specialized meds. Only one person can help him get off all the pills his superiors have leashed him to: Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), a scientist who's now a target herself.

Is it any good?


This is an often-riveting movie that manages to stand alone -- and tall, too -- referencing what came before just enough to give die-hard fans a sense of homecoming. When news spread that Matt Damon, who bore the mantle of the first three compelling Bourne movies, wasn't going to be in this installment, many swore the franchise was dead. And although Damon's Bourne casts his specter over THE BOURNE LEGACY, it doesn't stifle the film. Renner's Cross is a different breed of super-agent, more brawn than Bourne, more soldier than leader, but not so much of a follower that he can't stand alone. He and Marta have gone rogue, forced into it by circumstance, and we're with him most of the way.

But that's not to say there aren't any quibbles: The Bourne Legacy takes its time to distance itself from the original protagonist, a necessary part of the process that nonetheless could have used some pruning. And though there are some flashbacks, the story unfolds in a sometimes maddeningly linear way. A chase gives way to another and then another, and though it certainly makes for a breakneck, exciting pace, thrill fatigue starts to set in. We want to get to know Cross like we did Bourne, and we don't. We won't spoil the ending, but after all that work and rush, it leaves a little something wanting. But don't worry, we're there for the next serving. If filmmakers can entice Bourne to join Cross next time, and there's certainly room for it, the result could be perfection.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the Bourne series. How does Legacy compare to the others? How does it change things to have a new star?

  • Does this movie seem more or less violent than what you've seen in other films? What kind of fighting/violence has the most impact? Why?

  • How do the covert agents justify their violent actions? Do the ends ever justify the means? Do you think real spies act like this?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 10, 2012
DVD/Streaming release date:December 11, 2012
Cast:Edward Norton, Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz
Director:Tony Gilroy
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:135 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:violence and action sequences

This review of The Bourne Legacy was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 13 year old Written byLynnoalive August 11, 2012

This should be rated R

I'm all for an action-packed thriller, but there are several scenes in this movie which were quite disturbing. It wasn't just that there was deadly violence. In the wake of the recent mass murders, this type of emotionally disturbing violence is not appropriate for chilldren. This movie should have been rated R. I took my near 14 year old son, so clung to me at one or two points in the movie. We loved the original trilogy, but this movie was not at all like those. We were left feeling empty and a bit depressed after it.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 16 years old Written bysky65z August 11, 2012

Good movie but not as good as some of the others.

The bourne legacy is a very good thriller for mature teens and adults. The first hour is a little slow but then it gets going. Violence- The whole movie is about a goverment trained assassin who is being hunted down by the same government. The movie is very action packed. Most of the time if Aaron is on the screen someone is either getting punched or shot at. There is a mass murrder scene that is prolonged and very disturbing. This scene made me cringe and violence normally doesn't bug me. Language- S--t, H-ll,, a--, d--n and g-dd--n. This movie is very good but not quite as good as the past ones. WARNING- If you haven't seen the others you will be completly lost.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 15 years old Written bycinnagurl December 31, 2012

i miss u matt

pretty good but this is no Ultimatum or Identity. its very different. a concern would probably be drugs. there is quite a bit of drug use in this movie. in fact the whole movies revolves around pills. i love ya Jeremy but i miss Matt Damon