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The Bourne Legacy

Year: 2012
Studio: Universal
Director: Tony Gilroy
Writer: Tony Gilroy/Dan Gilroy
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach, Scott Glenn, Oscar Isaac, Albert Finney, David Strathairn, Joan Allen

If you ever want to see Jeremy Renner punch Aussie Shane Jacobson (Kenny, Beaconsfield) in the face, this is probably the only chance you'll get. The latter plays a plant manager in the Philippines where Aaron Cross (Renner) and his simpering female love interest Marta (Weisz) have broken in to steal the drugs Cross needs to stay alive as an agent of Treadstone, the top secret super-spy program that spawned Jason Bourne.

Because as the tagline says, there never was just one. Cross is just one, in training in the wilds of Alaska when the events of The Bourne Ultimatum are taking place.

When Bourne (Damon) goes rogue and the reporter from The Guardian (Considine) is assassinated, it's part of a much wider program to kill off all the other 'Bournes' before somebody blows the lid off the very illegal and unethical program.

The man tasked with doing so is USAF handler Byer (Norton, who's as good as always but must need the money), but it soon becomes apparent one loose end is still running around the US. Cross and a fellow trainee are targeted in their Alaskan cabin, but just like the powers that be found out when it came to stopping Jason Bourne, they trained Cross a little too well.

At the same time, a co-worker at Marta's lab – where they've been doing the super-soldier science – goes beserk, shooting almost everyone dead before security can bring him down.

When the shaken Marta is targeted in her own home and Cross busts in with milliseconds to spare to rescue her, they go on the run together. He needs the pills he's been taking throughout the movie and the only place to get them is the plant in Manila, so Cross puts his skills to work to get them there, take what they need and get out again – everything from making fake passports to sliding sideways down a staircase handrail on a motorbike.

It's a whip-paced thriller with lots of chases and action and a good military/espionage sensibility, but not without problems. Writer/director Gilroy has the corporate/espionage vernacular down pat so much it's almost impenetrable sometimes. Consequently I never really understood why Cross needed the pills so badly that he travelled across the world to get.

I also understand that as a civilian, Marta would be terrified and unsure of what to do, but she's so whimpery and clueless her role becomes one of those damsels in distress from the 50s. I half expected her to trip over and lay there screaming while the hero comes back to get her on her feet.

But the biggest problem was that the story undoes its own logic but making a believable ending impossible. After spending the entire movie setting up the fact that the people searching for Aaron and Marta are all-powerful, well-resourced and can't be hidden from, the movie ends abruptly following one of the chase sequences with the pair apparently off the grid and safe. The result is a good but not classic film.

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