Friday movie roundup: 'Bourne' without Bourne
Published: August 10, 2012 09:58AM
Updated: August 10, 2012 10:02AM
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FILE - This publicity film image released by Universal Pictures shows Jeremy Renner, as Aaron Cross, in a scene from "The Bourne Legacy." (AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Mary Cybulski, File)

The last blockbuster of the summer arrives today – along with a lot of other stuff.

“The Bourne Legacy” is a sharp and exciting continuation of the Robert Ludlum-inspired spy franchise, but the first without Matt Damon at its center. This one follows a CIA attempt to end the secret operation that created Damon's super-agent Jason Bourne, by liquidating the other super-agents before the truth gets out. The agent in charge of this liquidation (Edward Norton) oversees his handiwork from video monitors – but out in the world, one of his “outcomes” isn't willing to die. He's Aaron Cross, played by Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye from “The Avengers”), and he leads the CIA on a riveting chase from Alaska to Bethesda to Manila, taking a genetic scientist (Rachel Weisz) along for the ride. Director Tony Gilroy (“Michael Clayton”) gets a little convoluted at times, but the action sequences are nail-biters.

“The Campaign” is a raucous comedy about politics, centering on an increasingly nasty congressional race between a horndog incumbent Democrat (Will Ferrell) and an easily manipulated Republican challenger (Zach Galifianakis). The humor is appropriately rough-and-tumble, but as director Jay Roach (“Meet the Parents”) tries to move into biting commentary about corporate corruption of politics, the movie turns soft. (Read The Cricket's column, which features interviews with Ferrell and actress Katherine LaNasa, who plays Ferrell's ambitious wife.)

The best movie opening today is “Ruby Sparks,” a sweet and smart romantic comedy written by one of its stars, Zoe Kazan. She plays the title character, a perfect girlfriend created on the page by a struggling writer (played by Paul Dano). But when Ruby comes alive, Calvin can't cope with the idea that his creation might have a mind and will of her own. Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the husband-and-wife team who made “Little Miss Sunshine,” bring out the humor and wisdom from Kazan's engaging script. (Read this feature, which includes The Cricket's interviews with Kazan, Dayton and Faris.)

Also on this weekend's art-house slate is “Neil Young Journeys,” the third concert film collaboration between the legendary rocker and director Jonathan Demme. This time, the focus is on Young's solo performance at Toronto's Massey Hall, an iconic venue in Young's hometown. Whether singing new songs of remorse or belting out his angry classics, Young shows he's still a musical force to be reckoned with.

“Kumaré” aims to say something deep about the nature of faith, but mostly it's a cruel prank being played by its director, Vikram Gandhi. The New Jersey-raised Gandhi poses as an Indian spiritual guru, setting up an ashram in Phoenix and collecting followers. The resulting movie is sub-par “Borat,” but aimed at broken, spiritually yearning people who don't deserve to be humiliated.

Lastly, the 2002 LDS-themed romance “Charly” is being trotted out for a 10th-anniversary re-release in Utah. And don't forget Wednesday's openings, the delightful "Hope Springs" and the insane-stunt doc "Nitro Circus: The Movie 3D."