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Natural Bourne thriller

THE BOURNE LEGACY action/thriller. Starring Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Donna Murphy, Stacy Keach, Scott Glenn. Directed by Tony Gilroy. Cert 12A

The decision by Universal to plough ahead with the latest instalment of the Bourne saga without its star Matt Damon or director of the last two movies Paul Greengrass is one which many saw as a major gamble.

When The Bourne Identity appeared in 2002 it injected new life into the action/espionage genre, giving the Bond people cause for a major rethink -- so it was adios to Pierce Brosnan and invisible cars and hola to Daniel Craig and bashing blokes' heads off toilet fittings.

So, the main task with The Bourne Legacy is to try and convince fans of the series -- the last instalment, The Bourne Ultimatum, grossed over $450m -- that the makers haven't made a major error in continuing without the charismatic Damon and, it has to be said, they've managed to pull it off. Continuity and consistency is key to a strategy like this and by handing the directorial reins over to Tony Gilroy they've done just that.

A screenwriter on the first three films, Gilroy also directed Michael Clayton and Duplicity so is a pretty safe pair of hands, which leaves the fate of the film relying on story and star -- both of which make the cut.

Jeremy Renner has a different kind of presence to Matt Damon but, as anyone who saw him in The Hurt Locker, the last Mission: Impossible movie and his Oscar-nominated turn in The Town will attest, he has a simmering and dangerous quality about him which makes him ideal for the role of Aaron Cross.

The tagline 'There was never just one' tells you enough about the plot to make the Bourne-free film make sense.

Consistent with the series' own universe, it stands to reason that if Jason Bourne was a brainwashed assassin/super spy trained by that old reliable, the 'shadowy government agency', then he wouldn't be the only one and, of course, he's not.

It turns out that different programmes were in operation, one an offshoot of the one which produced Bourne which involves slight genetic modification and that's the one which Cross signed up for.

The film cleverly references The Bourne Ultimatum, by using the assassination of journalist Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) in Waterloo Station as the catalyst for the events which take place here.

A panicked former army colonel (Edward Norton) realises that the programme he's been overseeing has been compromised by the killing and sets out to cover his agency's tracks, which leads to Cross and scientist Dr Martha Shearing (Rachel Weisz) running for their lives.

While the first half of the movie leans a tad too heavily towards the talky side, once it hits its stride it's a sturdy addition to the series, with a great chase sequence in Manila as good as anything we've seen under the Bourne banner so far.


GRABBERS Comedy/horror. Starring Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley, Russell Tovey, Lalor Roddy, David Pearse, Bronagh Gallagher. Directed by Joe Wright. Cert 15A

Combining comedy with horror and/or sci-fi is a tricky balance to get right and, alas, this Irish-made would-be romp doesn't really work.

The premise is that a meteorite lands in the sea near an island off the Irish coast and some rather nasty creatures are intent on devouring some earthling flesh and blood.

However, the island's resident garda (Richard Coyle) and his assistant (Ruth Bradley) discover that the invaders are allergic to alcohol and so the islanders must get drunk in order to survive.

Riddled with cliched characters, putrid Paddywhackery and some truly awful acting, Grabbers does boast some nice scenery but otherwise is about as welcome as a lock-in in Temple Bar's worst pub.


JACKPOT Thriller/Comedy. Starring Kyrre Hellum, Mads Ousdal, Henrik Mestad,. Directed by Magnus Martens. Cert 16

Based on a story by Jo Nesbo, Jackpot is in a similar vein to Headhunters in that it blends bloody violence with the blackest of humour to create a Coen-esque carnival of carnage.

The story is told in flashback as the bloodsoaked Oscar (Kyrre Hellum) is interrogated after a bloodbath at a strip club and gradually reveals how a winning football coupon led to the mayhem. There's not really all that much to the movie but it's perfectly entertaining.


THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD Drama. Starring Tristan Halilaj, Sindi Lacei, Refet Abazi. Directed by Joshua Marston. Cert Club

The consequences of a blood feud in rural Albania forms the basis of this interesting film from Joshua Marston (Maria Full of Grace), as 17- year-old Nik (Tristan Halilaj), a bright young man with dreams of opening an internet cafe, gradually falls apart as he's effectively put under house arrest after his father goes on the run.

Marston could have trimmed the running-time somewhat but The Forgiveness of Blood remains an unusual and slowly involving film with great performances from the young leads.



Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (Cert 15A, 3/5) is running exclusively at the Light House and profiles the provocative Chinese artist, whose campaigns to highlight government wrongdoing in the wake of the 2007 Szechuan earthquake led to him being 'disappeared' for several months in 2011.