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'The Bourne Legacy' Loses Its Identity

This fourth installment of the Bourne series introduces us to a new CIA assassin working with a female scientist to track down a cure to his laboratory ills. Aside from the family trademark name and a few returning characters from the previous films, this movie never felt like a Bourne experience or a continuation of the “legacy” we’ve come to expect.  Part of the reason for that was the obvious omission of Matt Damon’s character but also because there was no main villain to despise.  Sure, Edward Norton does a fine job leading the chase and putting a face on evil, but Jeremy Renner’s role as Aaron Cross runs away from Norton and the program.  Jason Bourne would always put time and distance between himself and guys like Norton just before circling back to inflict damage and revenge upon his trackers.

The movie’s beginning would make any Liam Neeson or James Bond fan smile.  In The Last Frontier of Alaska, Renner finds himself in full survival mode, fighting off wild animals and low quantities of enhancement pills (not those blue pills!).  Unfortunately, the pace slows down in a few spots while bureaucrats and spooks spend too much screen-time explaining classified programs.  Thankfully, the pace quickens and a very enjoyable suspense thriller ensues.  

But this movie earns 1/2 letter-grade deduction because there was no Matt Damon--and no festering anger and resentment.  Remember Jason Bourne always directed his anger at being manipulated by others through an untraced cell phone call or a rifle scope’s crosshairs? Here in The Bourne Legacy, that anger and feeling of being lied to by others falls to Renner’s accomplice, Dr. Marta Shearling--the 6,000 pound brain and scientist behind the curtain.  She’s the one who can’t figure out what’s happening to her, why people are dying around her, and attempting to catch her. The relationship that develops between Dr. Shearling and Aaron Cross is the movie’s best accomplishment--and one that leaves viewers to wonder what is next? 

Jeremy Renner does a great job as the CIA rogue operative, but the only villain he must deal with is a fellow assassin who appears too late in the film.  The Bourne Legacy starts out very promising, has a few slow spots before gaining momentum, and ends rather abruptly.  While this movie didn’t provide the Bourne DNA-match we’ve come to expect from this series, it is still well worth your time.  Grade: B

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The Bourne Legacy is Rated PG-13 for violence and action sequences.  The movie is 135 minutes in running time.

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