HE had some mighty big shoes to fill, but Hurt Locker star Jeremy Renner proves he's made of the right stuff in The Bourne Legacy.
Renner is the new face of the Bourne franchise, following on from Matt Damon's acclaimed performances as Jason Bourne in the first three films based on Robert Ludlum's novels.
Not only does he have to live up to the expectations set by Damon, Renner also has the weight of being the new face of an action adventure series which has grossed nearly $1 billion at the box office so far.
The Oscar nominee plays Aaron Cross, one of a series of drug-enhanced black ops agents whose futures have been put in jeopardy by the actions of Jason Bourne.
Where Damon's Bourne had an innocence in the first film thanks to his memory loss, Renner's Cross is the rogue of Operation Outcome who has been reprimanded for skipping his meds and questioning the shadowy the black ops program.
We first see him flexing his muscles in the Alaskan wilderness, fighting off wolves and scaling icy peaks rather than taking out a dozen armed men with razor-sharp precision.
But don't worry, a bit further into the movie you'll get to see that too.
Renner proves his toughness in the opening scene, where we see him free dive down to the bottom of a snowy river in nothing more than a pair of thermal pants to retrieve a container and then casually walk back to his fire as ice forms on his beard.
Like the previous Bourne films, we see this new agent on the run putting all of his training to use as he evades capture and assassination.
At polar opposites are the supporting characters of Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton.
Weisz's Dr Marta Shearing is an emotional wreck after being the sole survivor of a mass shooting at the research lab which developed the performance enhancing medications.
She knows too much and, lucky for her, ends up on the run with Cross.
They are pursued by Norton's retired Colonel Eric Byer, who is cold and calculating in his attempts to contain the "infection" unleashed by the "Treadstone mess".
But as director and screenwriter Tony Gilroy widens the scope to put Jason Bourne's story into context, the plot thickens so much that you feel like you're wading through mud trying to follow what the government suits are so upset about.
The action scenes are great, as expected, with a motorcycle pursuit through the busy streets of Manila being a particular highlight.
While some fans might lament the departure of Damon from the series, at least for now, I think the shift of focus to another character breathes new life into the Bourne franchise and creates real opportunities for future instalments.
The Bourne Legacy
- Stars: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Joan Allen
- Director: Tony Gilroy
- Rating: M
- Stars: 3.5/5
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