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August 21, 2012

The Bourne Legacy

Bourne-LegacyAlthough it has less of its predecessors’ fast-twitch action, this long awaited installment in the Robert Ludlum-created “Bourne” movie franchise keeps the audience engaged before sending them to the edges of their seats during its exhilarating climax. Jeremy Renner does an admirable if not comfortable job taking over Matt Damon’s place as the leading-man face of the spy-thriller series. Aaron Cross (Renner) is a superspy hopped up on body-and-brain enhancing meds that make him able to perform complicated tasks at an accelerated level of performance.

Director/co-screenwriter Tony Gilroy fumbles with establishing narrative inertia in the film’s first act. Cross is busy completing a solo endurance test across a snowy mountain range just as his faceless white-collar CIA bosses in Virginia are shuttering the experimental project of which Aaron Cross is its most resilient guinea pig. Edward Norton’s single-minded character Eric Byer heads up the methodical operation. Poisonous pills are being distributed to Cross’s fellow superspies. Drone attacks also help diminish their number. Realizing he’s on the hit list, and in need of his special blue and green pills, Cross seeks out his regular check-up doctor — Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz). She needs his help as much as he needs her because — you guessed it — the boys from D.C. are looking to rub her out too.

Romantic sparks never quite ignite between Renner and Weisz. Still, the actors play well off one another. Their carefully executed escape out of the U.S. to Manila has plenty of gritty intrigue to keep your attention. “The Bourne Legacy” is a better than competent spy thriller that pays off on its promise to push up the spectator’s blood pressure. The closing chase-scene is worth the price of admission. The early Bourne films could be credited with putting fire in the belly of the once-flagging James Bond franchise. Now, with Daniel Craig in as 007, and Matt Damon out as Jason Bourne, there isn’t much competition around.

Rated PG-13. 125 mins. (B-) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)

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