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Doug & the Movies: 'The Bourne Legacy'

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SALT LAKE CITY — Pray you're never involved in a top secret government program with a mission to genetically alter and improve human resources to be more effective assassins, and then find out the plug is being pulled. Let me just put it this way -- in the new film, "The Bourne Legacy" these guys aren't getting pink slips, packing up their staplers and filing for unemployment. Those who are overseeing the "Blackbriar" program employ a version of tough love.

You hear Jason Bourne's name thrown around in this new film but the star is Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross/Outcome #5. Cross has been part of an experiment in which several of his chromosomes have been chemically altered to enhance strength and suppress pain. He regularly takes two pills, one green, one blue to maintain the effect. But what happens if he runs out of the doses and how many others are included in the experiment?

Rachael Weisz stars as Dr. Marta Shearing, a geneticist who regularly "treats" these special operatives. She's in this for the love of science and perhaps hasn't fully contemplated the moral ramifications.

In spite of its shortcomings, this film was entertaining.

Well, when Col. Eric Byer (Edward Norton) determines there are too many liabilities and too much risk of everything being exposed, including some of the nasty secrets left over from "Treadstone," he decides to terminate things. Terminate being the operative word.

Without going into too much detail, mostly because I'm not sure I really got all the details, Dr. Shearing and Cross team together for mutual survival. The struggle to stay alive has them on the run around the world with chase scenes that are off the charts. One, a motorcycle romp through Manila, ranks right up there with the Blues Brothers in the Chicago mall, James Bond and his rocket-equipped BMW and Steve McQueen careening through the streets of San Francisco. Well, OK, maybe not quite as spectacular as Steve.


Renner is great as Aaron Cross; I was impressed by the charisma and sympathy he brings to the screen. Rachael Weisz is one of my favorites and she really delivers here. You totally buy into her character. Nothing ever turns syrupy or mushy in "The Bourne Legacy" but there is a unique chemistry between the two main stars.

Then there's Col Byer. Nobody delivers sinister-without going melodramatic-like Edward Norton. His cool, calm, even disturbingly logical persona is chilling. And, the other "bad guys" in the "black ops" are no lightweight either. That includes Stacey Keach, Scott Glenn, Albert Finney and Louis Ozawa Changchien as LARX #3, yet a different genetically altered assassin who is assigned to kill our heroes in Manila.

"The Bourne Legacy" is a little long, it's confusing and if you haven't seen the previous films, good luck. But in spite of its shortcomings, this film was entertaining.

It's rated PG-13 and gets 3 stars.


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Doug Wright


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