How do you make a Bond film without Bond? Simple answer: you don’t.
But for all the comparisons that have been drawn between the two stony-faced spies, it turns out long-time franchise scribe Tony Gilroy sees no problem in making a Bourne without Bourne.
Replacing Matt Damon is Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross, a CIA-bred super-soldier jonesing for his meds and running for his life, after his bosses (led by Edward Norton’s sinister suit) turn on him.
But don’t call it a reboot - it’s a continuation of the franchise, albeit one with an entirely new lead and set of supporting characters, not to mention a somewhat diluted visual style.
With less of the kinetic Paul Greengrass editing, and none of the placid, character-focused shots Doug Liman employed, what’s left is a visually uninspiring and frequently tedious actioner that’s in search of its own identity.
Renner’s a compelling leading man and conveys powder-keg intensity with the best of them, but he’s not a warm actor in the way Damon is, and he can’t bring much colour to what’s essentially a grey-scale cadaver of a role.
Cross’ plight simply isn’t an emotionally compelling one: he’s a junkie looking for a quick fix, and while there’s a token effort made to give his addiction a sympathetic root, it’s too little too late.
Even Rachel Weisz’s cerebral presence as shrieking damsel doctor-turned-love interest does little to make his arc resonate.
There’s a tender scene around the halfway point that momentarily fools you into thinking the pair might have something in the way of real chemistry, but things go sharply downhill from that point, culminating in one of the most ridiculous set-pieces of the year.
Meanwhile Norton’s stuck in a series of repetitive exposition scenes in which corporate baddies bark jargon into headsets and glare ominously at computer screens.
If this is Bourne’s legacy, no wonder Damon jumped ship.
DVD extras include a thoughtful if overcrowded chat track with Gilroy and various behind-the-scenes bods, some by-the-numbers featurettes and a bunch of deleted scenes that are mostly best left deleted.