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'The Bourne Legacy' Review

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating

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Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross in 'The Bourne Legacy'

Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross in 'The Bourne Legacy'

© Universal Pictures
Paul Greengrass stepped away as did Matt Damon, but their departures didn't keep the Bourne franchise down for long. Re-imagined with a new leading man playing a completely different character - albeit one who exists in the familiar Bourne universe - The Bourne Legacy places Jeremy Renner front and center as the new action hero of the series. But while Renner's great in the role, The Bourne Legacy feels a bit like empty calories. There are action sequences that will take your breath away, however there's an awful lot about The Bourne Legacy that plays out like a mash-up of the previous three films.
The Bourne Legacy features a shoot-out in the snow and rooftop chase scenes, similar to - although expanded upon - the first three Bourne films. This fourth film of the successful franchise works hand-in-glove with The Bourne Ultimatum, and yet as an audience member and a fan of the first couple of films, I was a little disappointed it didn't break further away from its predecessors, given this opportunity with a new lead character. It's Bourne, but in many ways it's Bourne-lite. And perhaps that's because too much of this Bourne reminds us of Damon and Greengrass', and before him Doug Liman's, Bourne films.

The Story:

The Bourne Legacy finds Jason Bourne very much still in everyone's thoughts, although his whereabouts remain unknown. He took down a massive CIA operation and no one is ready to forgive that act. But as we quickly find out, Bourne isn't the only operative out there that the folks in Washington, DC need to worry about.

After a link between top secret operations is uncovered, the man in charge of the project, Eric Byer (played by Edward Norton), orders it shuttered and the agents killed. These agents have been taking daily doses of drugs that increase their physical and mental capabilities, and these chemically altered soldiers are now a huge risk to the CIA if they remain alive.

Evading death in a scene which involves hand-to-fang combat with a wolf, Aaron Cross (Renner) is forced into seeking out the lone remaining scientist responsible for the drugs in order to keep his strength up as well as his increased mental capacity for a reason we won't disclose but that proves to be one of the film's best-kept surprises. One thing leads to another and Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) becomes Aaron's accomplice in the fight against Byer and his associates, teaming up to try and make those responsible pay for the deaths of agents and scientists alike.

The Bottom Line:

Jeremy Renner easily pulls off the role, handling the stunts and providing a new, strong onscreen leader for this revamped franchise. He's not Matt Damon, but he never tries to be. Cross is a separate character and Renner never attempts to copy what Damon laid down in the three prior Bourne films. And Renner has good chemistry with Rachel Weisz who comes across surprisingly feisty and tough when she needs to take a stance as Dr. Marta Shearing.

The film begins with too much dialogue and too little action, and the first half an hour or so it's even a little off-putting in that the conversations seem to have been written as if the audience had studied Bourne Ultimatum before watching Legacy. To a casual fan of the franchise, The Bourne Legacy's first act is a tad bit confusing, which is not the way to kick off the reboot of the series. And, honestly, Bourne has always been about the adrenaline-pumping action scenes and The Bourne Legacy seems a little skimpy in that department.

What isn't skimpy is the running time. At 135 minutes, The Bourne Legacy is way, way too long. It's sluggish and completely lacks the energy needed to sustain the audience's attention for two hours and change. Slice up that first half hour, insert a few more action sequences and maybe, just maybe, the running time would be justified. As it stands now, The Bourne Legacy just doesn't have the energy or urgency of The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, or The Bourne Ultimatum, and just can't live up to the expectations associated with being a part of the Bourne franchise.

GRADE: C

The Bourne Legacy was directed by Tony Gilroy and is rated PG-13 for violence and action sequences.

Theatrical Release: August 10, 2012

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