On Friday, The Bourne Legacy will hit theaters. The fourth in the Bourne series, the film is highly anticipated, most notably because it is a complete departure from the previous Bourne films: No Matt Damon, and a new director. With Jeremy Renner in the lead role, Tony Gilroy (a co-writer on the other three films) is now directing. Damon turned down the fourth film after previous director Paul Greengrass left the franchise. So far, the critic's response to the new film has been tepid.
Most notably, critics are mourning the loss of Damon. Michael Atkinson of the Village Voice writes, "who's the new guy?" (Atkinson also gives a scathing review of the film's score which he refers to as "abusive".) Peter Debruge of Variety takes his criticism a few steps further referring to the main character switch harshly when he says, "Subbing character actor Jeremy Renner into a franchise that requires Matt Damon-caliber magnetism."
In many ways it appears as if the trappings of the Bourene franchise have limited the development of the new protagonist Aaron Cross. Katey Rich for Cinema Blend writes, "Perhaps in a second movie Aaron Cross can stand on his own, but for now he feels trapped in the shadow of what came before." Reviewer Kirk Honeycutt echoes that sentiment saying that The Bourne Legacy "keeps referring back to the previous movies, which reminds you what you’re missing."
Gilroy does get a good deal of credit though. Critics are responding to his mastery of the franchise, and recognizing that his position of continuing a franchise without the lead, or the original director, is an uphil battle for sure. Entertainment Weekly gives the film a grade of an -A, and writes that the change to Gilroy is "refreshing." The review states that, "The change is refreshing. Jason Bourne's legacy is in good hands."
With a 58% currently on Rotten Tomatoes, it looks like the verdict is still out on Bourne's legacy.
The Bourne Legacy opens in theaters on Friday, Aug. 10.