Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach, Donna Murphy, Scott Glenn, Albert Finney, David Strathairn, Michael Chernus, Corey Stoll, Zeljko Ivanek, Joan Allen
Written by: Tony Gilroy, Dan Gilroy
Directed by: Tony Gilroy
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and action sequences
Running Time: 135
Date: 07/30/2012

The Bourne Legacy (2012)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

'Bourne' to Lose

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

To start, "The Bourne Legacy" looks like a reboot, but is mainly a sequel.

Either way, it's a mostly unnecessary addition to the smart, exciting Bourne trilogy.

The new movie's story takes place more or less during the events of the previous movie The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). Matt Damon is not here, but his Jason Bourne is in the story's sidelines, appearing as a phantom in documents and news reports, and spoken of in hushed tones.

The focus is now Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), another super-secret agent of the same ilk, who must take special green and blue pills to give him a genetic edge. But while in the field he loses his pills and has to get more before his brain and body shut down.

At the same time, the entire "Treadstone" program is being terminated, and all the agents are being killed. Aaron gets away and makes his way to the home of scientist Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), who likewise survived an attack on her lab.

Together, and hunted all the way, they make their way to Manila, to another lab where they can make Aaron a permanent super-spy.

The director on this new movie is Tony Gilroy, who wrote, or co-wrote all three previous Bourne movies, and directed the excellent Michael Clayton (2007). His screenplay here is of the highest showmanship, sounding intelligent and dramatic, while covering up and smoothing out some hokey plot twists.

His direction, coming after Doug Liman on the first film, and Paul Greengrass on the second two films, leaves a bit to be desired.

This entry is much longer than the other films, and the pacing feels off-kilter. It takes a while to get going, and the most exciting set-piece, a motorcycle chase, goes on far too long, and comes too close to the end. The movie ends too abruptly.

Gilroy's action sequences jump all over the place. He's clearly more comfortable with tense dialogue, characters in rooms barking at one another or studying computer screens.

For his part, Renner, though a bit cooler than Damon -- and at his best in The Hurt Locker, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and The Avengers -- is a more-than-capable action hero.

Overall, like the recent The Amazing Spider-Man, this new Bourne is mostly fine, but it feels more like the product of a business strategy than any genuinely artistic urge to tell a great story.
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