For a film franchise that's going through a rebirth, "Bourne Legacy" looks a lot closer to retirement age. The film moves at a slow pace because it has a convoluted plot, uninspired action scenes and too many people babbling scientific and spy jargon.
This is not the legacy the series deserves.
It's been five years since Matt Damon wrapped up what looked like the final episode in the "Bourne" trilogy. If you plan on seeing "Legacy," it would be smart to go back and watch that final film, "Bourne Ultimatum." "Legacy" picks up in the aftermath of that episode with a pending investigation that could send the spies behind Bourne to prison or an early death.
Director/writer Tony Gilroy, who wrote the three previous "Bourne" scripts, creates a story where there isn't just one super spy like Jason Bourne (Damon). Instead, he's part of a larger experiment with multiple super spies. Gilroy's key plot twist is that because of the pending investigations, all of the super spies must be eliminated.
Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) has other ideas and enlists the aid of one of the scientists behind the project (Rachel Weisz) to help him break the pharmaceutical hold that the agency has on him.
This is the major difference between the latest "Bourne" and the original trilogy. Damon's versions always featured a man on a specific mission -- even when the details seemed fuzzy. Renner's version is more of a man reacting to outside forces. He isn't in charge.
Such a swing might have worked better if Gilroy's script wasn't so plodding. Because the story has changed so much, Gilroy constantly stops the story to bring the audience up to speed on what's happening. Not all the explanations are clear, so by the end of the movie there are more questions than answers. They leave no doubt that a fifth film is planned.
And tossing in a surprise super spy to pump up the ending is more of an act of desperation than inspiration.
The film's climatic chase scene starts with lots of running across rooftops. When it finally gets to street level, Gilroy plays the scene so long that the tension is drained long before the payoff. Even the bystanders watching two men battle on motorcycles seem bored.
Renner's a capable replacement for Damon on the action side. What he lacks is the on-screen charisma of his predecessor, and that makes his Cross far less complicated -- and interesting -- than Bourne.
There are just too many flaws to make this movie a good legacy to "Bourne."
"The Bourne Legacy," rated PG-13 for language, action scenes. Stars Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Donna Murphy, Corey Stoll. Directed by Tony Gilroy. Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes. Grade: C. Theaters and times for this movie | Other movie reviews
TV and movie criticRick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.