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From "Bourne" to mild: Jeremy Renner shines in talky reboot

Is this new entry worth your time?

By Geoffrey Magliocchetti
On September 25, 2012

  • A poster to The Bourne Legacy. www.openletters.com

 

   "The Bourne Legacy"is another case where bound relations to an established franchise do more harm than good. "Legacy" is the fourth introduction to the critically acclaimed "Bourne" series, and the first to see Jeremy Renner step in for Matt Damon's portrayal of the titular Jason Bourne. With Damon's character out of the picture, this could have easily passed for an independent spy mystery, or even an acting explanation for how Jeremy Renner became Hawkeye. Instead, we're left with a noticeably disconnected film that only leaves fans of the previously established continuity wanting more.

   One of the most notable differences between "Legacy" and the previous three films is the change in pacing. "Legacy" is the first film in the series to be directed by Tony Gilroy, the accomplished filmmaker known for flicks such as "Michael Clayton" and "Duplicity." However, unlike "The Bourne Identity," "The Bourne Supremacy," and "The Bourne Ultimatum,"Gilroy's previous directorial efforts were far from high paced action films, often opting for emotional exchange over high-speed chases. Gilroy's slow-and-steady pace shows here: It takes almost half-an-hour into the film to see the first action sequence, and about an hour until Jeremy Renner's first fight scene. Instead, we get a lot of long dialogue sessions, which reiterate the same sentiment that Renner must be stopped at all costs. The previous three films had their slow talky sessions, yes, but at least the dialogue in those advanced the plot as opposed to rehashing the same point fifty different ways.

   However, despite all the talk, there's plenty of time for Jeremy Renner to keep Damon's legacy alive. In addition to perfecting the icy, assassin-like persona, Renner shows that he deserves to be included in a list of today's best action stars. Performing the majority of the stunts on his own, Renner is becoming one of the biggest badasses of the silver screen, adding "Legacy" to an already impressive resume which includes lead roles in "The Hurt Locker," "The Town," "The Avengers," and "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol."

   Aside from Renner, there are a couple of other notable faces as well.Rachel Weisz fills in as Renner's love interest, and it's refreshing to see her back as the female lead in an action movie.Edward Norton is the lead antagonist, but unfortunately, the character is basically just a lighter version of Chris Cooper's character from "The Bourne Identity." Norton does well with the role, but it would have helped if he, along with fellow villains Stacy Keach, Scott Glenn, and Albert Finney, were presented with more distinguishable features. Norton gets a cool introduction (jogging in the rain at 4:30 in the morning) but that's pretty much where his character development ends.

   Let's face it - It's not a "Terminator"movie without Arnold Schwarzenegger, it's not an "Alien"movie without Sigourney Weaver, and likewise, it's not a Bourne movie without Matt Damon. Despite this, Renner shines as the "replacement" for Damon, picking up right where the eponymous Bourne left off. "Legacy"isn't the perfect action movie, with it's long and often dialogue sequences, but it's still a fun modern spy thriller. I've always thought the Bourne series was the American complement to James Bond, and the comparisons is furthered here with another actor taking over the lead role. If we could get an actual action director to take over the franchise then this legacy will be in safe hands.

   Rating: 2 ½ Stars (out of 4)


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