2012 Running time: 130 Certificate: 12 Rating: 3

Synopsis

With the old partnership of director Paul Greengrass and Jason Bourne himself (Matt Damon) absent, series scriptwriter Tony Gilroy takes the directorial reins for the fourth espionage adventure. Jeremy Renner stars as Aaron Cross, a Bourne-style operator who finds himself targeted for termination by black ops chief Edward Norton, who wants to eradicate the programme that created super-agents like Bourne and himself. The franchise breaks loose with a parallel story that delivers the action goods.

Director

  • Tony Gilroy

Cast

  • Jeremy Renner

  • Edward Norton

  • Rachel Weisz

  • Joan Allen

  • Scott Glenn

Review

While it's not quite Titanic 2, Son of the Mask or Blues Brothers 2000, The Bourne Legacy holds the unenviable task of debuting to a franchise audience already more than happy with its conclusion.

Matt Damon's turn as an amnesiac assassin on the run from a shadowy government organisation wowed audiences and wooed critics, and managed the not-insubstantial feat of crafting a trilogy that not only sustained but improved itself with every entry.

Most importantly of all, it delivered a satisfying and resolutely fitting end to Jason Bourne's story.

So with neither main star nor director (Paul Greengrass) on board, and seemingly no plot to progress, how does The Bourne Legacy hold up? Considering the circumstances, pretty darn well.

Hollywood's go-to action guy du jour, Jeremy Renner (Avengers Assemble, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol), takes over the leading man reins in a tale that runs concurrently to The Bourne Ultimatum.

It turns out that Jason Bourne was the tip of the shadowy superspy iceberg, and that there are other secret programs out there dedicated to breeding the ultimate killing machine.

When Bourne's increasingly public revelations begin to threaten those in the highest echelons of power, a decision is made to eliminate all evidence by burning the programs to the ground - and all the key scientists, soldiers and subjects involved.

No sooner has Aaron Cross (Renner) survived an assassination attempt then he's on the run with 'too-sexy-to-be-a-real-scientist' Dr. Marta Shearing (Weisz) in a team-up that could offer the ass-kicking/brain-boff double whammy needed to save the both of them.

The crucial stuff first - if you're a fan of the previous Bournes, there's a lot to enjoy here. Renner makes a captivating and charismatic lead, capable of flipping between bone-crunching brutality and character-focused sincerity with reassuring ease, while Weisz provides ample chemistry as both expositional scientist boff and potential love interest.

The action's also up to Bourne's typically raw, electrifying standards. While there are no truly dazzling moments to compare to Bourne's Death by Biro ingenuity, an assault on Marta's home, and a chase through a manic Manila - first on foot, then on bike - hit the spot.

While a third act attempt to up the stakes takes a detour into distinctly Terminator-esque silliness (featuring an enemy who likes to stalk his prey via the Brokeback Mountain school of coat sniffing), it's the franchise's, erm, Legacy that's its ultimate undoing.

By continually throwing in nods to The Bourne Ultimatum's parallel plot, and flashing Damon's face up at key intervals, it only serves to remind you that while competent, it's consistently paling in comparison to what came before it.

Ultimately, The Bourne Legacy is a solid and entertaining film that boasts promise for the franchise's future.

Try to forget the previous trilogy ever happened and you're guaranteed a good time - after all, it can't help it was Bourne this way.

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