Movie review: The Bourne Legacy

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From the August 16, 2012 edition

In a summer filled with sequels and reboots, “The Bourne Legacy” is a bit of both … for better or worse.

The fourth movie about the world of author Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne — portrayed by Matt Damon on the big screen — is decidedly Bourne-free. Damon opted out when director Paul Greengrass said he wouldn’t return for a fourth movie.

But that won’t stop Hollywood! Instead we get an original story tangential to Bourne’s world.

Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is another genetically modified super-agent in the same secret government program that spawned Bourne.

When the program gets a mass shutdown — which includes the extermination of all operatives currently in the field — Cross goes rogue. Um, just like Bourne.

The “Bourne” series upped the ante for gritty spy flicks — even the James Bond films got edgier in response. But even though “Legacy” is solid on all fronts, it feels like such a retread.

Renner is a fine actor — though I feel the “Hurt Locker” star is still waiting for a real breakout role — and he gets support from the always superb Rachel Weisz.

The larger story moves a bit sideways — likely leaving doors open for future sequel possibilities with or without Damon’s Bourne. There’s some intrigue, but not much meat.

The Bourne franchise is still solid, but this makes me look forward to Bond’s return this fall with “Skyfall.”