'The Bourne Legacy': What the Critics Are Saying

1:07 PM PST 08/10/2012 by Paula Zulian
Universal Pictures

The reviews are in, and critics seem to like the fourth installment of the action-thriller franchise starring Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz.

The fourth installment of The Bourne Legacy franchise hits theaters on Friday.

The action film stars Jeremy Renner, who replaces the role of Matt Damon in the thriller directed by Tony Gilroy, who also co-wrote with his brother Dan Gilroy.

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In the film, Renner plays the new off-the-grid Operation Outcome field agent, Aaron Cross, who is completing a rigorous solo training mission in Alaska. The thriller also stars Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton and Stacy Keach.

The Bourne Legacy currently holds a score of 51 percent on RottenTomatoes.

Read below for some of the reviews from the top critics:

The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy says that, "The series’ legacy is lessened by this capable but uninspired fourth episode."

McCarthy adds: "Gilroy has cheated his leading man out of a good part by providing scant backstory, personality traits or motivation other than the most simplistic one of saving his own skin and that of his companion in rebellion against superiors who feel they need them erased."

He also mentions that, "With Gilroy’s regular cinematographer Robert Elswit behind the camera, the film looks first-rate, but the director backs down several notches from the radically amped-up approach to physicality established by Greengrass, to diminished returns."

Los Angeles Times' critic Kenneth Turan says of the movie, "Complex, unexpected and dazzling, alternating relentless tension with resonant emotional moments, this is an exemplary espionage thriller that has a strong sense of what it wants to accomplish and how best to get there. And it is impeccably cast, from stars Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton on down."

He also praises Renner's performance in leading the franchise: "Renner doesn't have Damon's everyman grace, but, as his Oscar nominations for The Hurt Locker and The Town demonstrate, he is a formidable actor who brings his particular brand of relentless intensity to the role of a remorseless killing machine. And he adds just enough humanity, especially in his worries about running out of the pills that keep him special, to keep us involved," says Turan.

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Manohla Dargis from The New York Times points out that, "One of the pleasures of this series is how well its ever more kinetic visual style has served its stories. With its frenzied fragmentation of time and space, the filmmaking has conveyed a sense of urgency that mirrored Bourne’s shattered being and his propulsive, convulsive journey from unenlightened self-interest to accountability, from the existential question mark of his identity to a hard moral reckoning."

According to Claudia Puig from USA Today, the film is "not the same ultra-high-caliber espionage thriller without Matt Damon sprinting around the globe or masterful director Paul Greengrass in charge, but The Bourne Legacy is a brisk and challenging film."

She adds: "Where 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum kicked off with a dazzle that never let up, Bourne Legacy starts slowly and takes a while to connect the dots. But once the story takes off, it's viscerally engaging, anchored by strong performances, with Jeremy Renner as a capable heir apparent."

As for Weisz's performace, she writes, "Weisz is a smart addition to the Bourne-sphere. An actress who conveys an astute intellect, she seems as convincing spouting medical jargon as she does pulling off action stunts."

Meanwhile, Washington Post's Ann Hornaday says that, "The Bourne Legacy looks surprisingly good on-screen, precisely because it’s so good on paper. Written and directed by Tony Gilroy, who penned all three Jason Bourne movies, The Bourne Legacy achieves its first order of business with intelligence and imaginative dexterity, building on the preexisting story, expanding its human capital and geography, and leaving plenty of white space for Jason to jump back in if Damon and Greengrass ever decide to return."

Hornaday adds: "With The Bourne Legacy, Gilroy has brought characteristic taste and skill to a nearly impossible task: embracing the past without completely erasing it, thereby creating an invitingly complicated and open-ended future."

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However, Leonard Maltin from Indiewire points out that, "The results may not be perfect, but they’re good enough to provide the kind of action and storytelling that Bourne fans expect," he says.

As for Renner's performance, Maltin says: "Jeremy Renner has earned his way to this high-profile part, doing exceptional work since his vault to widespread recognition in The Hurt Locker. He has the required intensity and physicality to make his character—a highly-trained, genetically enhanced undercover agent—completely believable. What’s more, he’s well matched with leading lady Rachel Weisz. She’s equally credible as a research doctor who, like Renner, becomes a pawn and potential victim when the powers-that-be turn on the worker bees in their worldwide network."

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