The Bourne Legacy
dir Tony Gilroy
scr Tony Gilroy, Dan Gilroy
prd Patrick Crowley, Frank Marshall, Ben Smith, Jeffrey M Weiner
with Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Oscar Isaac, Stacy Keach, Donna Murphy, Zeljko Ivanek, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Rob Riley, Scott Glenn, Elizabeth Marvel, Michael Papajohn
release US 10.Aug.12, UK 13.Aug.12
12/US Universal 2h15
The Bourne Legacy
Blending into the crowd: Renner and Weisz

norton isaac murphy
See also:
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) Jason Bourne (2016)
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The Bourne Legacy Writer Gilroy adds directing to his Bourne chores, shifting the franchise into a cerebral thriller punctuated by plodding action sequences. It's watchable, but doesn't have enough sense of character or purpose to make us care about anything that happens.

Genetically altered government agent Aaron Cross (Renner) is part of Outcome, a parallel programme to Treadstone, which created Jason Bourne. Since Bourne's antics have lifted the lid on Treadstone, Outcome director Eric (Norton) decides to terminate his programme by brutally killing everyone involved. But Aaron slips through the net, as does geneticist Marta (Weisz), whom Aaron needs for the meds that keep him going. As Eric's team hunts them down, they head to Manila to find a solution.

The story takes place at the same time as the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, so we see actors from that film (including David Strathairn, Albert Finney, Joan Allen and Paddy Considine) scuttling around the edges. But this movie only rarely captures the hard-edged realism tinged with real emotion that characterised the Matt Damon trilogy. Instead, Gilroy fills much of the overlong running time with expository dialog about the government search operation, various super-spy programmes and the medical science behind them.

Renner is efficient as the efficient, understated expert who fiercely pushes everything forward. And Norton relishes the moral quagmire of a character who murders innocent people in order to protect his country. But it's Weisz who holds our interest as a character she has played before: a brainy women caught up in events out of her control. She's the one character we engage with, so Marta's flirty semi-romance with Aaron feels rather tender.

But this hybrid between spy procedural and globe-hopping action movie never quite gels, mainly because the action scenes feel so tacked on, badly shot and edited in such a way that we can't quite see what's happening, except that everyone's acting out of character. There's an especially trite climactic plot point (involving Changchien's uber-agent) that feels added by the studio to up the action ante, but ends up as a damp squib. But the film's epilogue intriguingly hints that things could get back on track if they decide to make Part 5.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 13.Aug.12

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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall