Jeremy Renner takes over for Matt Damon in ‘Bourne Legacy’
With Matt Damon passing on the chance to continue as memory-challenged super spy Jason Bourne, the franchise went in a new direction with two-time Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Town, The Avengers).
Is The Bourne Legacy as good as the original trilogy? No, but it is a very good thriller. If Jeremy Renner has been cast as Jason Bourne from the beginning, I might be singing a different tune. As Aaron Cross, a chemically enhanced, genetically altered 2.0 update of the Treadstone spies, Renner has an intensity that makes him a convincing super spy from the beginning.
Of course, part of the charm of The Bourne Identity was watching a confused amnesiac turn into a badass. Renner does not get the opportunity to develop that special relationship with the audience and that handicap is the main reason The Bourne Legacy doesn’t reach the heights of the previous films. Another minus factor is an abrupt ending that makes you say, “Whoa, is it over?”
While some have called The Bourne Legacy a reboot, a better description is a spin-off. With Bourne screenwriter Tony Gilroy taking over as director, and writing an original story not culled from the Robert Ludlum books, the film begins where The Bourne Ultimatum left off. Jason Bourne is on the loose and the government bad boys are scrambling to save their butts and hide their illegal and unsanctioned activities to develop the perfect, genetically enhanced spy.
Topping the government bad boy list this time is Edward Norton as Eric Byer, who is in charge of the Department of Defense’s version of Treadstone, Operation Outcome. With Joan Allen’s Pam Landy creating a stink by revealing the CIA’s illegal activities with Treadstone, Byer decides he must save the science and shutdown the Outcome program. Translation: kill all the Outcome agents and tie up any other loose ends.
The best of the agents, Aaron Cross, manages to not only avoid his termination, but in a thrilling battle in the wilderness with a killer drone, he convinces the drone’s controllers that they have killed him.
Cross, angry and in dire need of the enhancement drugs he is addicted to, takes a course of action that includes finding and kidnapping one of the scientists who worked with him, Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz). She is also part of the Outcome clean up that gets away.
Once these two hook up, the movie attempts to rekindle the romance-on-the-run vibe that was so crucial to the success of The Bourne Identity. However, The Bourne Legacy’s abrupt ending short-circuits that potential romance and suggests it will be a part of the next flick in the Bourne series.
Gilroy does a good job with the story, connecting the threads of the earlier films to make the latest adventure seem plausible, although he doesn’t have the feel for the directing side of the genre that Doug Liman and Paul Greengrass brought to the franchise.
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