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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Bourne Legacy | Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz | Review

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The Bourne Legacy

The marketing tagline for The Bourne Legacy reads, “There was never just one”, which is a very clever way to introduce a new lead with ties to a secret CIA operation, now that Matt Damon and his character Jason Bourne have dropped out of the picture.  Taking over the torch from Damon in the continuation of the immensely popular espionage film franchise is Jeremy Renner as the main focus and he brings a different, intense and powerful dynamic to the rebooted series.

At the helm is Tony Gilroy (penned Michael Clayton) who wrote the three previous films based on Robert Ludlum's best selling “Bourne” novels.  Here writer/director Gilroy expands the franchise with an original screenplay he co-wrote with brother Dan.

In the last installment Bourne's story came full circle allowing him to escape from the covert program and move on with his life. Rather than bringing the series to a close, as the title implies, Jason Bourne has left a legacy which is taken up by Aaron Cross (Renner), a subject of the secret Outcome program, who has been pumped up with “chems”, blue and green pills for increased mental and physical capabilities to transform him into a super spy.

It turns out there are other operations in place besides Treadstone, which created Bourne.  That was just the tip of the iceberg.  Fearful that the secret government program has been compromised and will be exposed by Bourne leading to a chain reaction, USAF Colonel Eric Byer (Edward Norton) sets a plan in motion to shut it down and kill each and every one of the existing field operatives in rapid order, that is except for Cross who manages to escape an armed drone targeted at him in Alaska.
In need of his daily regimen of meds, Cross hooks up with Dr. Marta Shearing (the beautiful Rachel Weisz), a bio chemist at the “company” lab who has been performing regular medical checkups and monitoring Cross and all the agents like him. She, too, is on the hit list for her participation in the program and just narrowly escapes a murder rampage by one of her co-workers (Zeljko Ivanek) who shot to death everyone else on her research team.

With virtually no one else to turn to for protection, Shearing is forced to go on the run with Cross as CIA agents and a silent, but deadly new breed of assassin known as Alcom 5 (Louis Ozawa Changchien) are in hot pursuit.

All this leads up to exciting and suspenseful chase sequences in and around the crowded streets of Manila that has Cross engaging in a race by foot, leaping across roof tops, sliding down a narrow alley between two buildings, and in a lengthy, adrenaline pumping motorcycle chase with Shearing holding on to him for dear life.  My only problem with these scenes is the dizzying, shaky camerawork that is unnecessarily distracting.

Rather than plunging into heavy action from the start, the story builds at a steady even pace to introduce the new hero, an intriguing figure that commands our attention thanks to Renner.  Not just a damsel in distress, Weisz works well with Renner, and together they make a forceful pair.

With Matt Damon's embodiment of Jason Bourne so memorable, the bar was held high. However, Renner proves to be well suited and in top form to deliver the goods and keep the series alive. Up and running with a new leading man as the new central character, there is plenty of room for a sequel as the ending suggests. If this is any example of future installments, the legacy is in good, solid hands.

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