Jeremy Renner steps into Matt Damon's shoes and they fit. Renner's sensitive face and quiet undemanding and unassuming presence make for a modest Aaron Cross, who is the new Jason Bourne.
Cross has been on the run ever since he and a few other men were used as guinea pigs in an experiment by the same team who tortured Jason Bourne. Cross is known as Number Five. He needs green and blue pills to stay alive.
Tony Gilroy wrote The Bourne Legacy screenplay along with his brother, Dan, and with the help of Josh Zetumer and George Nolfi. Tony also directed and edited with kudos this fourth installment to Robert Ludlum's spectacular Bourne series.
Is there new information here? You bet. This film begins where the last Bourne film ends with Operation Blackbriar threatening exposure due to Jason Bourne. Operation Outcome is the offshoot program of both Treadstone and Blackbriar. They are tapping into science with the help of Dr. Marta Shearing, (Rachel Weisz) to create stronger and wiser agents than agents before them. Dr. Shearing is played skillfully by Weisz, who makes her part seem fresh when in fact her role is predictable. Edward Norton (Ret. Colonel Edward Byer) replaces Chris Cooper from the first Bourne and Brian Cox from the second, but with less menace. Not much for Norton to do except look anguished and stare at computers as Cross and Shearing run from Operation Outcome's directors - -David Strathairn, Scott Glenn and the latest addition, Stacy Keach, who shines as a sinister member of this diabolical organization. (Albert Finney is seen briefly.)
The film begins in Alaska and takes you through Cross' run for his life through the Eastern seaboard. We first meet Dr. Shearing in the lab as she is taking samples of blood from victims of Operation Outcome. The details of Dr. Shearing's job in the lab are sketchy. She dodges the bullet of being a "bad girl" by claiming ignorance of the sinister operation perpetrated by the "bad guys" in secret. "I just do my job, take blood samples and forward them," she says feigning a believable -- due to her acting talents -- ignorance.
One member of her team has a breakdown obviously induced by the medication they are creating and goes on a shooting spree, which prompts Dr. Shearing to escape and seek seclusion in her dilapidated country home. While she was supposed to be murdered by the rabid crazy lab technician, she lives only to have members of Operation Outcome pay her a visit and try to off her, but she is saved by Cross who mysteriously appears to rescue her. And they begin to run for their lives.
And run they do, through the back streets of Manila in search of pills to find an antidote for the deadly virus implanted in Cross by Operation Outcome.
There is a chase between motorcycles that goes on a bit too long and is in parts difficult to follow, but will keep you on the edge of your seat.
What happens from here on in is best left for viewing by Bourne aficionados. The script is thin, but the acting, cinematography and direction make up for this loss. This is worth seeing even by the naysayers.
Keeping up the action for four films is no easy feat and The Bourne Legacy succeeds.