The Bourne Legacy


Directed by Tony Gilroy. Starring Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach, Dennis Boutsikaris, Oscar Isaac, Joan Allen, Albert Finney, Scott Glenn 12A cert, general release, 134 min

YOU REMEMBER all those men who used to read Playboy “for the articles”. These chaps probably also claimed that they watched the Bourne films for the twisty plots. Everybody’s favourite bits of The Bourne Supremacy were, surely, those many sections where, while Matt Damon watched remotely through binoculars, Joan Allen muttered gibberish in darkened rooms.

Well, our hypothetical friends are in for a treat with The Bourne Legacy. Tony Gilroy, who wrote the functional scripts for the trilogy (as it once was), has now been promoted to director, and he has decided to push murmuring and paper shuffling right to the front of the frame.

While some modestly charismatic character actor – is Jeremy Renner his name? – messes about in Alaska, various middle- aged men in glasses squint at files and engage in brow-furrowing competitions. It seems that Jason Bourne’s activities have endangered the integrity of various black operations within the CIA. In particular, a scheme to create master spies by feeding coloured pills to eight-stone cretins is in danger of public exposure.

After too much chatter, the unspeakably (not to say implausibly) Machiavellian intelligence hierarchy elects to eliminate all relevant subjects and research scientists. Drones eventually close in on Alaska, where Not-Matt Damon – Renner plays a former idiot, now gifted with pharmaceutically enhanced intelligence – is beginning to get suspicious.

So, it takes The Bourne Legacy about 90 minutes to become a Bourne film. Even then, the requisite mad pursuits across rooftops manage little of the anarchic energy that characterised Paul Greengrass’s deservedly celebrated Ultimatum and Supremacy. Indeed, they’re not even on a par with the fight sequences in Doug Liman’s opening film.

Still, the new one might pass muster as a serviceable, if infuriatingly coy, Bourne spin-off if the lead were not so woefully miscast. Renner is a good actor. He’s not bad looking. But something about his make-up – that air of ordinary-Joe ennui, perhaps – disqualifies him from achieving leading man status. One might as well attempt to re-launch the franchise with Paul Giamatti or Toby Jones in the lead.

Towards the end, as Renner and a confused Rachel Weisz stomp across Manila, we catch sight of the words “No More” scrawled on a mirror. Well put.

Mind you, one must admire their decision to end the film in the manner of a Roger Moore-era Bond romp. Prepare for re-entry.

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