This movie is exactly what it needed to be.
I know some people are disappointed about Matt Damon’s absence from the newest Bourne installment, but frankly, I don’t miss him. The first three movies were great, but (particularly after TDKR) I really am not interested in seeing anymore despondent, heartbroken, angry bad-ass types beating up on nameless extras. Frankly, this felt like a satisfying fan-fiction version of Jason Bourne. Not quite a reboot, just reimagining the same basic plotline with more accessible characters.
Jeremy Renner (Aaron Cross) is absolutely perfect. He never stoops to cliche one-liners, but he manages to bring humor to his scenes through his dry delivery and incredulous expressions. The fact that he knows who he is and the life he chose makes his motivations much more simple, which I found refreshing after all the sturm und drang of the Bourne trilogy.
His chemistry with Rachel Weisz was sweet, and thankfully not overdone. Though it really only worked because the leads (and Renner in particular) were so inherently likable, since aside from him rescuing the helpless damsel they don’t get much in the way of development.
As far as the action – which I felt was so lacking in Total Recall – it’s quick enough to feel chaotic and tense, but still easy enough to follow. It was also engaging and satisfying enough to get a few cheers and “WHOOA!”s out of the audience. The pacing of the rest of the story works well too; the slower exposition is juxtaposed against more exciting scenes; the backstory is given to us in small doses throughout the present action, but it never feels like we’re strung along or missing a critical piece of information. This is not a drawn-out mystery like the earlier films, it’s just a fun thrill ride.
My only big complaint would be that the movie just… ends. I felt like we had just passed the first minor challenge/chase, and our heroes would regroup, then go in for the big fight scene or final confrontation. I also think that the lead-up to Renner’s viral MacGuffin could have used a little more suspense; aside from shaking his head and daydreaming for a microsecond, he never seems to show any signs that he’s in withdrawal or otherwise feeling the loss of his meds.
But those are relatively minor issues, considering I got 2+ hours of action and entertainment, with a few chuckles along the way. Highly enjoyable summer action flick!