‘Legacy’ struggles to follow in Bourne’s footsteps

‘Legacy’ struggles to follow in Bourne’s footsteps
Rachel Weisz and Jeremy Renner star in "The Bourne Legacy." Photo by Mary Cybulski Copyright: © 2012 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The latest follow-up in the Jason Bourne film series feels less like the start of a legacy and more like an acceptable rough draft that could have used some revisions. 

As a fan of the “Bourne” series and Matt Damon’s performance as the eponymous character, I was unsure of what to think when I heard that a fourth film was in the works.

Such a notion felt redundant, and if that were not enough to cause concern, the fact that Damon would not be appearing as Jason Bourne did nothing to assuage my apprehension.

Upon seeing “The Bourne Legacy,” however, I was quite surprised at how well the final result held up under pressure.

In the aftermath of Jason Bourne’s dismantling of Operation Blackbriar in “The Bourne Ultimatum,” the CIA decides to shut down its remaining black ops programs and terminate its field operatives.

One agent, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), manages to survive. He meets a CIA scientist (Rachel Weisz) and the two of them set out to expose the true agenda of their superiors, while being tracked by Eric Byer (Edward Norton) across the globe.

So, how is this not the legacy it claims to be? Well, for starters, the film lacks any clear resolution.

I suspect this may be the work of director Tony Gilroy and his screenwriter brother Dan to leave room for sequels.

Even so, what they have devised here leaves the audience hanging.

But “The Bourne Legacy” manages to stay on its feet and pulls itself through to the end. Cinematically, the film retains the same gritty appearance of its predecessors. Action-packed moments are captured flawlessly, especially in the motorcycle chase scene.

Every confident swerve Renner makes with a terrified Weisz clutching onto him is perfectly framed.

Matt Damon might not be present for now, but the new cast of this Bourne series is as potent a weapon as any Aaron Cross might yield.

Renner brings a self-aware, idealistic edge to his character. His tours of duty with Tom Cruise in the latest “Mission: Impossible,” and as “Hawkeye” in Marvel Comics’ “The Avengers” have solidified his reputation as a capable action star with a conscience.

Happily, Rachel Weisz makes her return to high-profile films after a long period of acting in smaller, more personal projects.

Edward Norton, on the other hand, is surprisingly not at the top of his game. As Eric Byer, Norton is granted a generous amount of screen time but he only manages to score average due to his character’s lack of a manipulative doggedness that made the antagonists of “Identity,” “Supremacy,” and “Ultimatum” memorable presences to behold.

While “The Bourne Legacy” has its share of faults, it succeeds in holding out as a moderate continuation of the series.

And here’s to hoping that Matt Damon will cross paths with Renner and Weisz at some point in the not-too-distant future; such an encounter could show earnest potential.

“The Bourne Legacy”

Where: Wide Release
When: Now playing
Rating: PG-13

2 1/2 out of 4

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