Having smeared a handful of real-world muck on the practice of giving superhero status to damaged people (orphaned Bruce Wayne, narcissist Tony Stark, etc.) with Chronicle, screenwriter Max Landis sets out to give the same treatment to the amnesiac superspy of The Bourne Identity. Here, he becomes Mike Howell, a deadly government assassin put out to pasture in West Virginia via mindwipe abetted by marijuana smoke. But when a villain — not an evil mastermind, just a douchebag corporate striver — targets him for elimination, forces conspire to jump-start his old abilities. The action-movie absurdity is still in place, but so is Landis' muddy-bloody touch: by the end, Eisenberg's face is a purple, swollen wreck, and rightly so. It's not just gritty, it's grotty. What makes the experience worthwhile is its portrayal of young(ish) people — not coming of age, but growing up. Howell and his beloved (a born-for-the-role Kristen Stewart) are sweetly content in their tiny, private world, but discover they must contend with larger forces and personal baggage if they're going to make it. Sometimes, dying stoned and smiling in your bed just isn't the best option. Nima Nourizadeh directs. With Walton Goggins, Connie Britton, and Topher Grace. (2015) — Matthew Lickona
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