Tony Gilroy, who wrote every movie in the Jason Bourne trilogy but never earned a swing at directing one, now gets his chance with The Bourne Legacy, which approaches the black-ops misgivings of our government through the unblinking eyes of a new conflicted killing machine: Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), a Bourne contemporary recruited into a separate-but-associated American assassins guild. While Matt Damon played his amnesiac ass-kicker lethally straight, Renner’s Cross is as flip as he is fast, wise-cracking through his tasks as a patriotic “sin eater” while working to understand why his creators have turned on him.
Teaming with Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), whose lab research granted Cross superhuman strength, speed and smarts, v2.0 is a formidable physical foil for his predecessor, but Gilroy doesn’t give him many chances to show off — this is the talkiest Bourne movie yet, fixated on the shady closed-door dealings of dullard government one-uppers no one cares about. Legacy’s culminating sequence, with Cross and Shearing rip-roaring through Manila, is precise and exhilarating, but it takes far too long to arrive. Renner is more than capable of manning the wheel of this well-loved franchise, but we need less boring bureaucracy and more blows to the body.