Reel Critics: 'Bourne Legacy' maintains series' action-packed spy thrills

Tony Gilroy is no stranger to the intense world of complex spy thrillers.

He earned Oscar nominations for writing and directing "Michael Clayton." He was a screenwriter on all three previous Bourne films. Better than anyone else, he knows the convoluted territory the characters must navigate in "The Bourne Legacy."

Jeremy Renner ("The Hurt Locker") is well cast as Aaron Cross, a participant in the secret program to create biologically enhanced operatives like Jason Bourne. He steps into the hard-charging secret agent role without missing a beat. Renner is buff and tough enough to do his own stunts in the many gritty action scenes.

Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton add great acting skills to their roles in the Byzantine plot. Government agencies go rogue to hide nefarious plans. Several cerebral complications require thoughtful attention. A climactic wild chase is too long and gets a little tedious. But there's plenty of the required mystery, tension and danger to please fans of the franchise.


Streep, Jones Give Reason for 'Hope'

What a treat to watch Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones together in "Hope Springs."

The previews have us believe this is a sexy romp for seniors, but it's actually a serious story of a marriage that's turned Kay (Streep) and Arnold (Jones, at his cantankerous best) into merely roommates after 31 years.

Kay reads about a famous couples therapist and announces she's booked them for a week of counseling sessions in Maine. It's a tossup as to what Arnold finds more annoying — the idea that his wife wants to talk about their marriage and sex life, the price of the trip, or leaving Omaha.

Streep and Jones hold nothing back, and you can see their discomfort, anger and fear as surely as if these were real characters. We know these people.

Steve Carell gives a wonderfully kind, restrained performance as the therapist. The exercises he gives the couple to try to regain emotional and physical intimacy are funny, risqué and poignant by turn.

By all rights, "Hope Springs" is a clichéd Lifetime Channel movie (complete with an overly bouncy soundtrack). But in the hands of such gifted professionals, it's a raw and honest portrayal of two people wanting to love each other again.

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

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