A Bourne movie without Bourne? Sure, why not?
If we’re being honest, Bourne is the weakest part of the Bourne movies. Not Matt Damon, but the “character” of Bourne. By design, he doesn’t really have any character. He’s just a dude that does stuff.
In this case, the Bourne-like assassin is played by Jeremy Renner, late of Avenger’s Hawkeye, and his apparently mandatory female sidekick by Rachel Weisz. (I’ve never been a fan of Rachel Weisz’s looks, but she looked really good in this. I know it’s not supposed to be the case, but I think sometimes women get better looking as they good older.)
Renner’s character isn’t from Treadstone, like Bourne, he’s from a wussier program that leaves the subjects their emotions. He’s also “chemically enhanced” and the hook for this movie is that the CIA wants him dead (natch) and has cut him off from his meds (without which bad things will happen).
This movie takes place at more-or-less the same time as the previous ones, with Matt Damon’s face making an appearance on a newscast. I’m surprised they didn’t bill him like they did Joan Allen and Albert Finney, who have cameos in what looks like archival footage.
The baddie in this one is Edward Norton, with Donna Murphy and a very spud-like Stacy Keach in supporting roles.
Hell, I don’t really know what to say about this movie. I liked it. The Boy liked it more than the last Bourne movie (which is the only one he’s seen all the way through). We both liked the direction more, rather disliking the heavy use of the shaky-cam. We didn’t think it was great, but it was certainly entertaining.
The serious Bourne fans disliked this for a lot of the same reasons we liked it more. There’s a light sci-fi element here in the enhancement chemicals, which presumably detracts from the pure spy/training notion of Bourne, but that’s really a silly complaint. The Boy dislikes the super-soldier genre as a whole because, regardless of how you explain it, the hero is never really in jeopardy.
Renner’s emotional vulnerability and the personal-ness of his story actually makes him seem more real, in spite of the sci-fi aspect.
If you haven’t seen the previous trilogy, it doesn’t really matter. The formula is basically the same as the last three films.
This film (like the others) is similar to a horror movie, in that the monster is never really dead. In this series, the monster is the CIA, and after the requisite number of action scenes, the CIA cries “uncle”. At least until the next film.
So, if you’re not strongly inclined away from this genre, and not too strongly attached to the original series, it’s worth checking out.