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Bourne Legacy thrilling but falls short of rebooting franchise

Posted Tuesday, August 14, 2012, at 7:42 PM

In a summer or rebooted movies, "The Bourne Legacy" is the latest popcorn flick that looks to reanimate its former self. The fourth film in the Bourne series based on characters created by Robert Ludlum and brought to life on the big screen by Tony Gilroy, "The Bourne Legacy" moves beyond telling the story of Jason Bourne and moves on to tell the story of Aaron Cross played skillfully by Jeremy Renner.

The events of the movie are set concurrently with the events of "The Bourne Ultimatum" released in 2007, which starred Matt Damon as the title character Jason Bourne. Gilroy, who co-wrote the previous three films ("The Bourne Identity", "The Bourne Supremacy" and "The Bourne Ultimatum"), takes over the directorial duties for Paul Greengrass, director of the original three films. Gilroy expertly includes key plot points from "The Bourne Ultimatum" into "The Bourne Legacy" to give the film some continuity as Universal Pictures hopes to extend the life of the franchise, which is especially successful on DVD and blu-ray.

The movie starts off at a much slower pace than previous Bourne films and it takes some time for Gilroy to connect the dots for the audience but when he does, the action is fast, believable and filled with all the great twists and turns that makes the audience adore the spy genre. Gilroy creates, what is often a very complicated movie to follow, into a very simple story for "The Bourne Legacy". Aaron Cross has been participating in a government-endorsed program to create a more sophisticated agent; the same program Jason Bourne belongs to. Cross runs out of the drugs and before the government terminates him due to the exposure of the program by Bourne, he will get his fix.

Although Renner does not command the star power that Damon did, he is well on his way, and two Oscar nominations in the last two years show that he has the acting chops to back it up. Rachel Weisz gives a lovely and entertaining performance as Dr. Marta Shearing, a scientist for a pharmaceutical company and Renner's eventual love interest. Shearing is rescued by Cross after surviving a horrific workplace shooting (the timing of the film is interesting with three mass shootings nation-wide in the last month) and near annihilation by the same government agents out to eliminate Cross.

Edward Norton plays Retired Col. Eric Byer of the U.S. Air Force, whose exact new role is unknown but makes it clear that he is in charge. Norton who typically plays characters with a lot of depth seems underused in this film and a little outside his element.

The film is two hours of fun but if Universal was looking to reboot the franchise it needed to go more over the top than it did. The acting is solid. The story is simple to follow but there simply was not enough action for a spy flick. The chase sequence in Manila complete with motorcycle at the end of the movie is entertaining and has some nice oooh and aaah moments but it is just not enough to have this film watcher wanting to see a Renner sequel.

The film is rated PG-13 for violence and action sequences.

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