Jeremy Renner Is 'Bourne's' New Lead Character

The Bourne Legacy is the fourth film in a franchise with the name Bourne in the title, but it's the first one without Matt Damon in the starring role. It seems like a radical change, but fans shouldn't be worried.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Anyway, let's shift our focus back to Earth and toward a theater near you. "The Bourne Legacy" is the fourth film with the name Bourne in the title, and the first one without Matt Damon in the starring role.

Kenneth Turan has a review.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: Jason Bourne, as it turns out, was just the tip of the iceberg. "The Bourne Legacy" expands the espionage series' universe by revealing that the top-secret U.S. government program that created Bourne's chemically enhanced super soldier went wider and deeper than anyone suspected. The retired Air Force colonel who runs all these clandestine programs is played by Edward Norton at his most convincing.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE BOURNE LEGACY")

EDWARD NORTON: (as Eric Byer) I need you to stop what you're doing and turn around. That's an order.

TURAN: The colonel is the kind of villain willing to burn the village to save it, someone who never has a moment of self-doubt.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE BOURNE LEGACY")

NORTON: (as Eric Byer) You know what a sin eater is? It means that we take the moral exponent that we find in this equation, and we bury it down deep inside of us. That is the job.

TURAN: The man the colonel is hunting is agent Aaron Cross, played by Jeremy Renner. Renner doesn't have Matt Damon's everyman grace, but he's a formidable actor who brings his particular brand of relentless intensity to the role of a remorseless killing machine.

Rachel Weisz plays a biochemist hired to do pharmaceutical maintenance on these super soldiers. She barely knows Aaron Cross, but she ends up on the run with him.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE BOURNE LEGACY")

RACHEL WEISZ: (as Marta Shearing) Where we going?

JEREMY RENNER: (as Aaron Cross) June. Your name is June, June Monroe. Say it.

WEISZ: (as Marta Shearing) June Monroe.

RENNER: (as Aaron Cross) Say it.

WEISZ: (as Marta Shearing) June Monroe.

RENNER: (as Aaron Cross) Anybody asks, you're June Monroe, from Bethesda.

TURAN: Orchestrating all of this is "Bourne Legacy's" co-writer and director Tony Gilroy. This may be his first time behind the Bourne camera, but he's written on all four pictures, and he's, in effect, the keeper of the franchise flame. Gilroy comes off as coolly efficient as the ruthless assassins he traffics in, and that is saying quite a lot.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and for the Los Angeles Times.

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