PEOPLE Movie Critic Alynda Wheat
August 10, 2012 03:30 PM

The opening scene is tantalizingly familiar: A man floats, unmoving, in crystalline waters. It isn’t Jason Bourne who springs from a frigid Alaskan river, though, but Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), otherwise known as the also-ran.

While Bourne was an elite soldier stripped of memory, trying to cleanse his soul (and our government), Cross is a bio-engineered action figure looking to get his next fix of super drugs. Not quite the same stakes, eh?

The drugs, or “chems,” help him stay sharp, which he’ll need to do, since the Feds want to kill him and everyone else on the covert “Outcome” project. That also means a lethal pink slip for Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), Cross’s doctor and his only hope for getting more chems.

Black-ops chief Eric Byer (Edward Nor ton) leads the hunt, spewing jargony gibberish with absolute conviction. (Don’t bother trying to follow the spy-speak. I’m not convinced they know what they’re saying.) The chase is tired, but there are nice set pieces (one in Shearing’s country house is spring-loaded with tension). And even if they have zero chemistry, the actors are solid, and Renner is especially affecting in Cross’s haunting flashbacks.

But is he good enough to fill Matt Damon‘s shoes? It’s impossible to say, given that Legacy can’t even find its own footing in the franchise.

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