Director Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon are out, and in comes series scribe Tony Gilroy to the director’s chair, with Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross, another super-spy trained by a secretive programme akin to that which fashioned Damon’s forgetful agent. It proves a predominantly successful addition to the series.
Running concordantly with Ultimatum, it’s both spin-off and sequel: Cross is a chemically enhanced next-gen operative, but as threats to expose the CIA’s secret operations leave Edward Norton’s string-puller no other option than to burn it to the ground, Cross, with Rachel Weisz’s research doc, are forced out on the run.
There are a handful of standout set pieces – a climactic chase through Manila that starts as a rooftop foot pursuit, before moving on to bikes and into cars, and ending up a two-wheeled showdown – but while there are elements of Greengrass’s action (fast zooms, snappy editing) Gilroy’s style is more blockbuster than groundbreaker.
Where the series reinvented action cinema language before, here Gilroy nods to its forbears’ invention, while refusing to mimic.
Cross, too, is a different character to Bourne, with a cheeky element that stands him as a more conventional action hero, a move chiming with Gilroy’s crowd-pleasing approach that’s not averse to throwing in a few moments of the heart between his leads.
Norton is excellent as the master architect of it all, who knows his work is ‘morally indefensible, yet entirely necessary’. But Legacy is less about contemporary comment and rather big, bold action thrills, on which it delivers.
Good for: Those who want Renner in every franchise going (Mission Impossible; Avengers … )
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz | 12A | 135mins | On general release Aug 13