WATCHING THE DARK KNIGHT RISES a few days before its release was a markedly different experience than watching it during its opening weekend, after 12 died and 58 were injured in a shooting at a screening of the film in Colorado. One sequence in particular—in which masked supervillain Bane strides into a crowded room and starts shooting—was nearly impossible to watch. A few days before, it had merely been one more scene establishing how eeeevil Bane was; after Aurora, it turned into something dark and disconcerting.
There's a similar scene maybe a third of the way into The Bourne Legacy: A man with a handgun enters a room, blocks its exits, and calmly shoots everyone he can. When Legacy opens this Friday, it will have been five days since America's most recent mass shooting, this one at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
Legacy can't be blamed for its timing, but there are few things more effective at making an audience question what they're watching. Even more so, perhaps, considering how goofy the rest of Legacy is: This is a film in which Jeremy Renner punches a wolf in the face.
Stupidity of the term aside, it's easiest to describe Legacy as a "sidequel" to the Bourne flicks that starred Matt Damon: Legacy occurs during roughly the same timeframe, but thanks to Bourne's shenanigans, the government's decided to wipe out all of its experimental soldiers, including Aaron Cross (Renner). Plus, Cross is running out of the meds that keep him all smart and tough—meaning that unless he and Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) can get him more pills, he'll go all Flowers for Algernon. Never before has a junkie's quest for a fix required this much parkour.
Crammed full of technobabble and superfluous plot ("Blackbriar!" "Treadstone!" "BETA TEST GROUP C, ALPHA CODE TANGO!"), Legacy makes as much sense as all the other Bournes, which is to say none. But Renner's a solid action hero—angry and driven—while director Tony Gilroy, who wrote the Damon Bournes before directing the excellent Michael Clayton, continues the series' blurry, spastic action. (A preposterous motorcycle chase through the streets of Manila is a hell of a thing.) By the time Legacy abruptly ends—feeling less like a film and more like a setup for a new, Renner-centric series—everyone will have received what they signed up for: A super spy doing super things, too many minutes spent considering the appropriateness of blockbusters that echo the evening news, and, as a bonus, Jeremy Renner punching a wolf. In the face.