‘The Bourne Legacy’ Reviews Are In: What the Critics Are Saying

The Bourne Legacy hits theaters Friday — and it’s Bourne free.

After star Matt Damon bowed out of the blockbuster franchise, Jeremy Renner has taken over the leading role, stepping in to play medically enhanced, off-the-grid operative Aaron Cross in the spy series’ fourth film.

Renner is joined by a star-studded supporting cast, including Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach, Scott Glenn and David Strathairn.

And the highly anticipated movie has a new helmer, too. After writing the screenplays for the first three installments — which have grossed almost $1 billion at the global box office — Tony Gilroy took the director’s chair to bring his Legacy screenplay to life.

So can the Bourne story continue to win over audiences sans Damon and its past directors?

While some critics applaud the high-energy, fast-paced installment, others criticize a film they claim doesn’t compare to its predecessors.

Here’s what the reviewers are saying:

The New York Times: “Mr. Gilroy cleverly handles some of the overlap between the new Bourne reality and the old…. While Mr. Gilroy retains some of the Bourne bequest, he’s also created a tricky parallel universe with a new agency that has its own clenched-jawed, closed-door complications and a hero who nearly becomes lost among them.”

The Chicago Tribune.”‘The Pointless, Confused and Then, For the Last Half-Hour, Exciting Bourne Sequel, After a Fashion,’ more commonly known as The Bourne Legacy…is Gilroy’s revenge; it’s all corkscrews, and the script periodically stops dead to explain itself, or deliver the dreaded expositional back story, before cranking up the action again.”

LA Weekly: “The Bourne films have more than just overstayed their welcome and outlasted the Ludlum books — they’ve been Van Halenized, with an abrupt change of frontman and a resulting dip in personality.”

The Guardian: “It has plenty of energy and drive, and Jeremy Renner is really good, better as a Bourne-y agent than Matt Damon, tougher and more grizzled-looking, more convincing as the professional soldier who has grown careworn and disillusioned in the public service. I can imagine Renner going rogue, but I often had a tough job imagining smooth-faced Damon going rogue from the cub scouts…. Well, the time has certainly come to call a halt to the Bourne franchise, but despite its muddled origins, this fourth movie is much more of a bang and less of a whimper than any of us feared, and Jeremy Renner is emerging as the intelligent person’s action star.”

The New Yorker: “The new movie continues the Bourne tradition of exciting, reality-based thrillers, but when the series lost its star, it lost most of its soul.”


The Hollywood Reporter: “At least as much as its predecessors, this is globe-trotting affair…features mostly familiar moves. 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.”

The New York Daily News: “He won’t erase any memories of Damon, but Renner’s turn is strong enough to stand on its own…while it was smart to bring in a first-tier actress as Bourne’s love interest, Weisz and Renner have so little chemistry that they seem less like a united team than a random mismatch. Once the pair is on the move, though, the action starts to feel swifter and more satisfying. Their high-pressure escape scenes, including one through a maze-like Manila, are all thrillingly true to the series’ spirit.”

Boston Globe: “What’s missing from Legacy is any emotional stake. Damon’s Jason Bourne—who’s alluded to in the new film but seen only in a newscast—was a James Bond hero in the throes of an existential identity crisis, and the actor let you feel the character’s confusion and anger. As enjoyable as he is to watch, Renner’s underwritten Cross doesn’t carry the same weight…. The best thing that can be said about The Bourne Legacy is that Renner will survive it.”

Will you be seeing The Bourne Legacy on the big screen? Weigh in below.

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