Instead of moving the “Bourne” series forward, the creators of the fourth film, “The Bourne Legacy,” have taken a step sideways to see what else was going on as Matt Damon‘s amnesiac secret agent hopped all over the globe.
This time, Jeremy Renner is in the lead role, and while he has all his memory intact, he’s got some mental problems of his own that he needs to take care of.
The majority of critics have responded positively to this new direction for the series, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a review that doesn’t score “The Bourne Legacy” as falling just short of its predecessors.
“Renner stars as Aaron Cross, who’s alone in the wilds of Alaska on a training exercise at the film’s start. But he finds he’s the target of a legitimate threat when the supersecret government spy program he’s a part of hastily gets shut down with the exposure of Jason Bourne. Turns out, Bourne was not the only person given a whole new identity — he was one of many, and the new models are even bigger-better-faster-stronger thanks to a combination of little blue and green pills. His handlers, including Edward Norton, Stacy Keach and Donna Murphy, may have done too good a job. Cross is hard to kill, and [Tony] Gilroy cuts back and forth between the spy’s resourceful, globe-trotting efforts to stay alive and the shadowy surveillance rooms full of glowing monitors that illuminate his hunters’ growing frustration.” — Christy Lemire, AP
“Narratively it’s a pretzel, half-baked. The first hour makes a full investment in Cross’ isolated existence difficult, because Gilroy risks a considerable amount of what’s-happening-exactly? vexation. He’s an interesting writer, no question: His caper film ‘Duplicity,’ which I enjoyed, tanked largely because of its looping flashbacks and nutty obfuscations, starting with the brawl on the tarmac between two supporting players. Even Gilroy’s well-regarded script for ‘Michael Clayton’ was fancier structurally than needed. ‘The Bourne Legacy’ is Gilroy’s revenge; it’s all corkscrews, and the script periodically stops dead to explain itself, or deliver the dreaded expositional back story, before cranking up the action again.” — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
“Cross is played by Jeremy Renner with the kind of focus and detached courage he showed in ‘The Hurt Locker.’ Because he isn’t referred to by name for a long time, and because everybody keeps saying Bourne is still ‘out there,’ and because I had not seen the trailer, I wondered for a while if perhaps Renner was now playing Bourne, but the film finally, mercifully, produces a Wanted poster showing Matt Damon, which clears that up.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
The Supporting Cast
“For her part, [Rachel] Weisz has a few good scenes to play, especially upon surviving the lab massacre and when facing down her inquisitors. The bad guys, from Norton on down, are terse, self-serving and ruthless ‘just do it’ types.” — Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
The Final Word
“Like any story with Bourne in the title, this one scampers around the globe, with a big chunk of well-crafted showdown action set in teeming Manila. Gilroy, who as a screenwriter has shaped the movie saga from the beginning, trades the wired rhythms established in the past two episodes by Paul Greengrass for something more realistic and closer to the ground. The change is refreshing. Jason Bourne’s legacy is in good hands.” — Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Bourne Legacy.”
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