The spy who lulled me

The Bourne-free dis­tinctly lack­ing in ex­cite­ment, writes a dozy Don­ald Clarke is

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews -

YOU RE­MEM­BER all those men who used to read Play­boy “for the ar­ti­cles”. These chaps prob­a­bly also claimed that they watched the Bourne films for the twisty plots. Ev­ery­body’s favourite bits of The Bourne Supremacy were, surely, those many sec­tions where, while Matt Da­mon watched re­motely through binoc­u­lars, Joan Allen mut­tered gib­ber­ish in dark­ened rooms.

Well, our hy­po­thet­i­cal friends are in for a treat with The Bourne Legacy. Tony Gil­roy, who wrote the func­tional scripts for the tril­ogy (as it once was), has now been pro­moted to di­rec­tor, and he has de­cided to push mur­mur­ing and pa­per shuf­fling right to the front of the frame.

While some mod­estly charis­matic char­ac­ter ac­tor – is Jeremy Ren­ner his name? – messes about in Alaska, var­i­ous mid­dleaged men in glasses squint at files and en­gage in brow-fur­row­ing com­pe­ti­tions. It seems that Ja­son Bourne’s ac­tiv­i­ties have en­dan­gered the in­tegrity of var­i­ous black op­er­a­tions within the CIA. In par­tic­u­lar, a scheme to cre­ate mas­ter spies by feed­ing coloured pills to eight-stone cretins is in dan­ger of pub­lic ex­po­sure.

Af­ter too much chat­ter, the un­speak­ably (not to say im­plau­si­bly) Machi­avel­lian in­tel­li­gence hi­er­ar­chy elects to elim­i­nate all rel­e­vant sub­jects and re­search sci­en­tists. Drones even­tu­ally close in on Alaska, where Not-Matt Da­mon – Ren­ner plays a for­mer idiot, now gifted with phar­ma­ceu­ti­cally en­hanced in­tel­li­gence – is be­gin­ning to get sus­pi­cious.

So, it takes The Bourne Legacy about 90 min­utes to be­come a Bourne film. Even then, the req­ui­site mad pur­suits across rooftops man­age lit­tle of the an­ar­chic en­ergy that char­ac­terised Paul Green­grass’s de­servedly cel­e­brated Ul­ti­ma­tum and Supremacy. In­deed, they’re not even on a par with the fight se­quences in Doug Li­man’s open­ing film.

Still, the new one might pass muster as a ser­vice­able, if in­fu­ri­at­ingly coy, Bourne spin-off if the lead were not so woe­fully mis­cast. Ren­ner is a good ac­tor. He’s not bad look­ing. But some­thing about his make-up – that air of or­di­nary-Joe en­nui, per­haps – dis­qual­i­fies him from achiev­ing lead­ing man sta­tus. One might as well at­tempt to re-launch the fran­chise with Paul Gia­matti or Toby Jones in the lead.

To­wards the end, as Ren­ner and a con­fused Rachel Weisz stomp across Manila, we catch sight of the words “No More” scrawled on a mir­ror. Well put.

Mind you, one must ad­mire their de­ci­sion to end the film in the man­ner of a Roger Moore-era Bond romp. Pre­pare for re-en­try.

Live and let who? Good ac­tor Jeremy Ren­ner lacks the star charisma of Matt Da­mon Di­rected by Tony Gil­roy. Star­ring Jeremy Ren­ner, Rachel Weisz, Ed­ward Nor­ton, Stacy Keach, Den­nis Bout­sikaris, Os­car Isaac, Joan Allen, Al­bert Fin­ney, Scott Glenn

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