The Bourne Legacy is an odd combination of sequel, spinoff and reboot.
By LOEY LOCKERBY
Special to The Star
Its a Bourne movie without Bourne, but with continual references to his exploits. It follows up on events from the previous films but takes off in its own direction. It introduces Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Avengers) as a bona fide action star, ready to take over the franchise, James Bond-style.
In other words, its chaotic, but still kind of fun.
The sequel part deals with the fallout from Jason Bournes efforts to bring down his shady government bosses. A program called Outcome is in the crosshairs, panicking the offices of Eric Byer (Edward Norton) and his top-secret cronies, led by an intimidating retired admiral (Stacy Keach). Outcome places medically enhanced agents in trouble spots around the world, and Byer reluctantly orders their deaths to prevent exposure.
That doesnt sit well with the star of the spinoff, Renners Aaron Cross. Cross is an Outcome agent who manages to escape assassination, then tracks down Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), a doctor whose work helped create the enhancements and whose own life is in danger.
Together, they reboot the series by running around a lot, evading Byers attempts to kill them while digging deeper into the Outcome program. This opens up all sorts of possibilities for future stories, as Cross superpowers can combine with Shearings expertise to mix it up with any range of high-powered threats.
Renner is a terrific tough guy, handling the abuse inflicted on him by director Tony Gilroy (who, after scripting the three previous Bourne films, co-wrote this one with his brother, Dan). There are countless fights and shootouts and a delightfully insane extended chase sequence through the streets of Manila. Like most modern directors, Gilroy likes his shaky-cam, but he at least holds still long enough to let viewers see whats going on.
As befits its hybrid nature, The Bourne Legacy never feels like a single, cohesive film. There are plots and subplots everywhere, characters who only appear long enough to provide violence and/or exposition, and pages of jargon-laced dialogue.
If you havent seen the other Bourne movies in a while, you may want to hold a refresher marathon, too. You wont need it to understand this one, but if it helps cut through the clutter, that can only be a good thing.
What others are saying
• Michael Atkinson, Village Voice: The Bourne films have more than just overstayed their welcome and outlasted the Ludlum books theyve been Van Halenized, with an abrupt change of frontman and a resulting dip in personality.
• Katey Rich, CinemaBlend: While (Director Tony) Gilroy clearly loves managing all the moving parts of the expansive plot, hes less skilled with the action, especially when it comes to the big motorbike chase sequence at the end, which is incomprehensible.
• Peter DeBruge, Variety: Jeremy Renner comes across as less immediately compelling than Matt Damon, partly because it takes so long for the story to focus on his character, Aaron Cross, and though the actor portrays a man in turmoil, the film fails to get inside his head.
Whats next for Jeremy Renner
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. The fairy tale characters are all grown up and hunting witches in this action-comedy produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. A trailer for the film, opening Jan. 11, is set to drop any day now. Renner plays Hansel and Gemma Arterton plays Gretel. The film also features Famke Janssen and Peter Stromare and is directed by Tommy Wirkola, who helmed the zombie Nazi horror comedy Dead Snow.