Movie Review

The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Legacy
Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz in "The Bourne Legacy"

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Rated PG-13 for violence and action. 2 hours, 15 minutes.
Publication date: Publication Date Aug. 10, 2012
Review by Peter Canavese
Released: (2012)

Meet the new Bourne, same as the old Bourne. That's the impression left by "The Bourne Legacy," a would-be franchise refresher in which Jeremy Renner grabs the baton from Matt Damon.

The new movie is directed and co-written by Tony Gilroy ("Michael Clayton"), who has screenwriting credit on all three of the previous films starring Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. And it can be said for Gilroy and "The Bourne Legacy" that they do a decent job of convincing us that, for over two hours, we're watching something other than a plate of reheated leftovers. But we're not.

Everything in this film you've seen before, and quite recently, whether it be recycled from the "Bourne" trilogy or even Joe Wright's "Hanna," fer gosh sakes. What is this movie about? A chemically enhanced super soldier -- let's call him Aaron Cross (Renner) -- discovers his masters have turned on him. He's the spy that went out in the cold. (Literally. He spends the first leg of the picture in Alaska.)

Cross tracks down Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), the only surviving doctor who used to maintain him; now she too has been targeted for a government cleanup. Without his "chems," Cross has begun to degrade, so he grabs Marta and starts running around the world to evade capture and secure survival. Meanwhile, an army of character actors, led by alpha character actor Edward Norton, barks at monitors and each other.

Universal Pictures and Gilroy don't take any chances here: Tin rooftops will be dashed upon, blue filters will be applied liberally to the photography, and man and woman will speak breathlessly to, and sexually imprint on, each other, as they bond on the lam. The familiar action includes a few swift bone-crunchings of outmatched security men and a couple of dodge-and-duck third-person shooter sequences. When the story threatens to fall apart but good, Gilroy lets a dog off a leash (another super soldier with "diminished empathy") to justify a chase climax.

Renner and Weisz are as solid as one might respectively expect, but Gilroy doesn't make us care much about them, or say anything more pointed about the state of American covert affairs than "We are morally indefensible and absolutely necessary." Instead, the film expends acres of talk on military doublespeak and technobabble. As Scott Glenn's CIA director confesses early on, "I've kind of lost my perspective on what's possible."

Just remember, kids, you're not paranoid if they're really out to get you ... or your movie dollars.