Just because you don’t have Jason Bourne, Matt Damon or a Robert Ludlum
novel to crib from doesn’t mean you can’t still wring some thrills out
of the Bourne franchise. With the dog days of the summer box-office season comes The Bourne Legacy, a respectable spy actioner, even if it falls short of the standard set by its predecessors.
Director Tony Gilroy, who penned the previous Bourne films and wrote this one with his brother Dan, jump-starts the series by beginning — sorta — where 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum left off. The events of that film have prompted U.S. intelligence honchos to scrap a super-clandestine spy program by way of killing off a small group of secret agents.
But one of the targeted agents, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner, The Avengers), eludes extermination. He sets out to get some desperately needed experimental meds (it’s complicated), a task that forces him to seek help from a scientist (Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea) who is also at risk of being whacked by spooks.
Legacy has some not-so-secretive problems, mostly some weird shifts in tone. Gilroy spends the first 30 minutes trying to mimic the globe-trotting and dizzying pace of the Bourne trilogy before finally settling down. The final 20 minutes, a climactic motorcycle chase through the bustling Filipino streets of Manila, veers from eye-popping spectacle to eye-rolling overkill. And the ending coda feels like it stumbled in from a Roger Moore-era James Bond flick.
But sandwiched in between is a satisfying popcorn flick with some terrific set pieces, especially a shooting spree in a research lab and a subsequent interview between its sole survivor and a psychologist. Gilroy knows how to ratchet up suspense, and he has an appealing hero in Renner.