It's impossible not to compare this reboot to the masterful trilogy featuring Matt Damon. After all, we are told that his character is alive and well in the opening scenes, still adeptly foiling his detractors. But that is merely a hook to engage us – Damon doesn't appear.
This follow-up concerns his fellow operatives, able hitmen being murdered and the whole Treadstone programme going bust. But rogue agent Aaron Cross (Renner) is still out there. He has avoided their attempts to off him while out in the wilderness and needs to know why he's marked for death. Norton is the shadowy head of the agency out to eliminate all evidence and his underlings are unable to better him, even when Cross has frantic scientist Marta (Weisz) in tow. She is the lab lady responsible for the drugs he has to imbibe to keep him as a killing machine. When her whole department is shot dead by her assistant she has no idea what is going on. Cross tracks her down 'cos he needs his meds. They have to go to Manila so he can have a virus taken out of him all the while being chased by high level hit men who need them both silenced.
Cue percussive music as they get new identities, their tails being tracked by satellite by Norton and his cronies, including a very aged Keach. It's the formula we know and love about the Bourne movies, only here under Gilroy's direction it's half baked. The plotting doesn't grab you as it should. The narrative lacks the propulsive kick of the earlier movies. There's no real tension or excitement despite a craftily edited action sequence at the climax with the two leads being chased on their motorbike by a crazed killer on the bustling ManIla streets.
Renner does't have the face of a lead hero but is very commanding nonetheless – he's a convincing everyman making the best of what he's got, solid and dependable. He's outclassed though by Weisz, whose way too good for this kind of popcorn filler. The scene where she is interrogated by a clinical psychologist over what she knows is the best of the whole movie – her emotional reactions to the severe questioning powerfully rendered and very affecting. It's a first class performance in a second rate film. Legacy lacks the kinetic charge of the Damon trilogy. It's a workmanlike effort to be sure, slick and well made but devoid of the thrills of its predecessors. An OK extension to the franchise then but one that doesn't instil any enthusiasm for further offerings. Moderate.