The Coen Brothers get folky in Cannes.
Review: The Bourne Legacy
Release date: 13 August 2012
Director: Tony Gilroy
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton
What's the story?
After Jason Bourne takes New York, another operative from a parallel US intelligence program (Renner) realises that he's now become an expendable liability in the eyes of his ruthless handlers.
What did we think?
If the idea was to keep the Bourne series operational in the hope that Matt Damon will some day come back to it, Legacy does its job capably enough. Yet while it serves up a decent helping of popcorn entertainment, it still ends up resembling an uncalled-for, slightly mercenary add-on.
"You had a Ferrari and treated it like a lawnmower!" barks Pentagon suit Stacy Keach to Scott Glenn's CIA director near the beginning of The Bourne Legacy. The 'Ferrari' is Jason Bourne, the amnesiac operative whose fortunes we've followed through three exceptional movies. But Matt Damon is nowhere to be found in this fourth instalment in the series, which rather begs the question: is this film a Ferrari or a lawnmower?
With franchise screenwriter Tony Gilroy promoted to the director's chair and several trilogy regulars making cameos, there is enough continuity and quality to fend off the latter suggestion. There's no doubt though that Legacy is a lesser movie compared to Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum, obliged as it is to start again from scratch with a new hero played by a new actor facing a new (if familiar) set of challenges.
Bourne fans expecting the usual cocktail of bruising punch-ups, frenetic chases and thorny intrigue will be more than satisfied. After his sterling work in The Town and The Hurt Locker, alas, it's a shame to see Jeremy Renner deliver such a nondescript performance as Damon stand-in Aaron Cross.
It's telling, for instance, that the most gripping sequence - a massacre inside a locked laboratory from which only Rachel Weisz's biochemist emerges unscathed - is one in which Renner does not appear. Later, when he and Rachel are tearing through Manila with an assassin hot on their heels, you may well find yourself rooting for the pursuer rather than the pursued.
Could it be that Cross - a highly trained super soldier whose abilities derive from hi-tech medication - isn't particularly interesting? If so, that's a big flaw for Gilroy - a workmanlike helmer with little of the flair his predecessor Paul Greengrass showed - to overcome in a film already lacking some crucial core elements.
Verdict: The Bourne B-team.
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