Jeremy Renner (The Avengers) stars as a covert operative from a secret CIA programme fighting for his life in this spin-off from the Matt Damon Bourne films. Now playing nationwide.
Trying to reconfigure the hugely successful Bourne series without the presence of franchise star Matt Damon is not actually a terrible idea per se: there are more top secret Bourne-like ops around the world? Sure, why not? It’s fine fodder for series extension, and I dig the way Legacy’s narrative runs concurrent to the previous installments.
But Tony Gilroy, who wrote the first three films and has taken on directing duties here, does not make it look easy. In fact it feels like one uphill battle from the laborious, overly complicated exposition that stuffs the first reel, where the film cross-cuts awkwardly between pill-poppin’ agent Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) leaping off cliffs and wrestling wolves, distracting callbacks to previous films, and establishing new supporting characters like CIA dirty laundry guy Eric Byer (Edward Norton) and token femme sidekick Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz).
When it finally comes to the chase, and the dots are connected, all could be forgiven if the action delivered, but it doesn’t. Gilroy tries to cop some of that shaky-cam freneticism Paul Greengrass brought to Supremacy and Ultimatum, but doesn’t stage anything as memorably insane as the car chases in those films. Renner’s a problematic lead - he’s a good, likeable actor - but Damon’s star wattage is so strong that whenever there’s a photo of Bourne on screen we’re momentarily pulled out of the film wondering where Bourne is.