The Bourne films have more than just overstayed their welcome and outlasted the Ludlum books—they've been Van Halenized, with an abrupt change of frontman and a resulting dip in personality. The series up to now has survived via Matt Damon's beady gaze, making decisions about where the story goes, even as director Paul Greengrass' jittery action fuzz did its best to render the set pieces of the past two entries almost unwatchable. Now we have Jeremy Renner as another Treadstone mega-man (there were nine, apparently), and though he is a likable enough pug-nosed action figure, the Damonlessness is sorely felt. Working in the trenches so he can eventually make himself another Michael Clayton, director Tony Gilroy keeps things brisk and relatively smart, but he can't be surprised if we find the rooftop-'n'-motorcycle chase through Manila a little rote by now, however white-knuckly and free of Greengrass camera palsy. The late-in-the-game introduction of a supervillain—a Bourne 2.0 from a "beta program" flown in from Bangkok in white skinny jeans—feels like outright pandering. But hell, it's the fourth film, and that's what happens when Hollywood hyperextends a simple paradigm beyond even the patience of the previous cast and crew.
Renner and Weisz speed into sequel-dom.
Opens Fri., Aug. 10 at Big Picture and other theaters. Rated PG-13. 135 minutes.