The Bourne Legacy DVD • Actors: Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz, Albert Finney, Joan Allen • Directors: Tony Gilroy
• Sort of a sequel, not quite a reboot--The Bourne Legacy is not easy to peg as a follow-up to the original Matt Damon trilogy. Except for this: it's a heckuva satisfying spy picture, an ingenious expansion on the Bourne universe that also meets the expectations of a multiplex title circa 2012. (Plenty of action to go with the espionage talk, in other words.) Jeremy Renner takes center stage as Aaron Cross, an agent groomed by the government program that also unleashed Jason Bourne, but with a few new wrinkles. Cross is busy training in Alaska when he's caught in a tsunami of hurt, thus beginning a frantic search for answers that leads to a mad motorcycle chase through the streets of Manila. He picks up a partner in government doctor Marta Shearing, who is mighty confused herself after nearly being caught in a madman's bloody rampage. She's played by Rachel Weisz; like Renner, she lifts her character above the usual genre expectations.
Kudos to writer-director Tony Gilroy, who scripted the other Bourne installments--he brings his knack for crafting intelligent, complicated stories and zingy dialogue to good use, while simultaneously announcing himself as a potential James Bond director. Two caveats: the movie's timeline makes it slightly confusing to sort things out with the ending of The Bourne Ultimatum--at least on first viewing--and the ending itself sneaks up on us a little abruptly. But the movie's a humdinger anyway: not exactly Bourne again, but something distinct to itself. --Robert Horton