This is an often-riveting movie that manages to stand alone -- and tall, too -- referencing what came before just enough to give die-hard fans a sense of homecoming. When news spread that Matt Damon, who bore the mantle of the first three compelling Bourne movies, wasn't going to be in this installment, many swore the franchise was dead. And although Damon's Bourne casts his specter over THE BOURNE LEGACY, it doesn't stifle the film. Renner's Cross is a different breed of super-agent, more brawn than Bourne, more soldier than leader, but not so much of a follower that he can't stand alone. He and Marta have gone rogue, forced into it by circumstance, and we're with him most of the way.
But that's not to say there aren't any quibbles: The Bourne Legacy takes its time to distance itself from the original protagonist, a necessary part of the process that nonetheless could have used some pruning. And though there are some flashbacks, the story unfolds in a sometimes maddeningly linear way. A chase gives way to another and then another, and though it certainly makes for a breakneck, exciting pace, thrill fatigue starts to set in. We want to get to know Cross like we did Bourne, and we don't. We won't spoil the ending, but after all that work and rush, it leaves a little something wanting. But don't worry, we're there for the next serving. If filmmakers can entice Bourne to join Cross next time, and there's certainly room for it, the result could be perfection.