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If writer-director Tony Gilroy’s objective was to resurrect the franchise with “The Bourne Legacy,” starring Jeremy Renner, of “The Avengers” and Rachel Weisz, his mission was a dismal failure.
“Legacy” continues the heavily serialized Robert Ludlum series, which centers on super-spy Jason Bourne, with fellow genetically enhanced operative Aaron Cross (Renner), who like Bourne becomes the target of the agency that created him.
Like the “The Bourne Identity,” the protagonist first appears floating in frigid water, but that’s basically where the similarities, aside from the right-versus-might plot, ends.
Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) in the first installment wakes to a fresh plot as a well-rounded character, adrift in the ocean with no memory of who he is or why people are trying to kill him.
Conversely, Cross’s first scene is an icy stream and survival training in Alaska as a not-too-quick witted fellow Treadstone participant who continually tries to find answers to questions that he should be privy to.
By the time Cross finishes his cold-weather training, Treadstone program director Eric Byer (in an underplayed role by Edward Norton) has begun sanitizing the program rather than let it come to light due to the attention that Bourne (who fails to make even a cameo appearance) is drawing to the program.
Dr. Marta Shearing, an equally out-of-the-loop researcher in an under-written part played by Weisz, is rescued from her higher-ups by Cross, who has come to her for the enhancement drugs that Treadstone operatives are dependent upon.
Following the rescue, Cross, who may or may not have a romantic interest in Marta, asks her what can she do alone against the ones in power.
That is intrinsic flaw of the film. What can either of them do against the face of the ultra far-reaching agency?
If Bourne has hitherto proven that the system cannot be toppled, then the pair’s only alternative is a run to live perpetually in hiding, after of course the doctor cures Cross of his dependency on the enhancement drugs.
The race for freedom becomes a dizzying run through Philippine back alleys and rooftops.
The film should have been a peek in to the program that created Jason Bourne and perhaps a resolution was instead just another of the myriad of increasingly redundant sequels, this one with marginal acting, poor fight choreography and a plot that drags out much too long and doesn’t follow through with a decent resolution.
The film’s only redemption was what little bit of cool factor it could muster. In “The Avengers” Renner as Hawkeye reeks of coolness, but as Cross he tries to break from the stoic hero role to a show personality, but in doing so, the buff hero sacrifices coolness to reach for a character that’s just not there.
Weisz, brilliant in “The Mummy and “The Constant Gardner,” mares her performance with a tendency for hysterics.
All in all, if it’s Bourne you’re interested in, save the money and revisit the original.