Director: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles, Alicia Vikander, Riz Ahmed
It’s been nine years since Matt Damon donned the identity of Jason Bourne, and boy does it feel great to have him back in such a memorable role. Bourne has been lying low passing his days as a rough street boxer. Julia Stiles is also back as Nicky Parsons, Bourne’s contact regarding the Treadstone Project. She’s at her rope’s end and wants to expose the CIA for all of their secretive wrongdoings. She’s caught in Iceland transferring a massive amount of Black Ops files, which leads to a huge breach within the CIA. Treadstone and Blackbriar are just two of the files along with a new program called Ironhand. The breach is thought to be worse than a Snowden attack. Heather Lee (Vikander) works on a cyber ops team within the CIA and traces the breach back to Parsons. She’s able to convince CIA director Robert Dewey (Jones) to let her head up the operation to track her down. Parsons is found in Athens with Bourne hoping to give him the files on Ironhand. The city is under siege from protestors turning the streets into a riot scene. It’s the perfect location for a hand off, but the CIA is hot on their trail. He’s Bourne after all, so he is able to flee, starting another cat and mouse chase between the two parties. The contents of Ironhand open his eyes to the truth about his past and the connections his father once had to the CIA.
Some of the early buzz has people asking why we’re seeing another Bourne movie. It ended with a trilogy and then the studio tried to reboot it again with Jeremy Renner in The Bourne Legacy. Legacy was a big disappointment, so why not bring Damon back? For me it’s no different than a having a new Bond film. Damon had previously stated he would only return to the character if director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum) was back on board. Greengrass agreed to return to the franchise as both a director and co-writer on the film with Christopher Rouse who takes over from original scribe Tony Gilroy. Rouse also pulls double duty as he’s also returning as the film’s editor. He previously won on Oscar for his work on Ultimatum.
Much like the original trilogy, this film consists of chase sequence after chase sequence as the CIA tracks the globetrotting Bourne from Russia and Athens to Berlin and London and ending in Las Vegas. Each sequence is shot well, fairly fast-paced, but controlled and easy to follow. They didn’t appear as frantic as some of the other films. Maybe that’s due to an aging Bourne. Damon is as fit as a fiddle, but I’d be exhausted at this point if I were Bourne. The overarching story not only deals with the past as David Webb/Jason Bourne learns more about his father, but it also lives in the present. There’s a whole subplot involving illegal Big Brother-style global surveillance. Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler) plays Aaron Kalloor, the CEO of a social media platform who finds himself caught in a web of dishonesty with Dewey. He wants the tech guru’s help with illegal monitoring of users’ profiles. At first it was a simple trade-off to get Kalloor’s company off the ground but soon he feels trapped into providing Dewey with private information.
The cast is a mix of new and returning players. Matt Damon looks as rough and unstoppable as ever. He says few words throughout the movie, but he’s a force to be reckoned with. What easily could be a one-noted character, Damon brings a fervent energy to him that makes you care about who he is and where he’s come from. He’s one of the main reasons why these movies work so well. The only other returning player is Julia Stiles who doesn’t quite fare so well and gives bad line readings during her time with Bourne. For as much as we’re given with Bourne’s father, I’m slightly surprised some of the other actors didn’t return given how much of it deals with the past. Tommy Lee Jones is new to the fold and is his usual gruff self giving zero concern or care about anyone but himself. It’s either perfect casting or just Jones not trying too hard to do anything different. Recent Oscar winner Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) is a welcome addition as a CIA agent who can easily be independent, strong, and can stay on top of Bourne and Dewey. Another highlight is Vincent Cassell’s (Black Swan) menacing turn as “The Assett”, Dewey’s hired assassin.
Jason Bourne has that similar look and feel as the other Damon Bourne films as we watch him nearly escape assassins and CIA agents time after time, chase after chase. Now that we’re four films in with this character, it doesn’t have the same freshness or frantic energy of the others, but how can it now that we’re further along on his journey? I haven’t watched the full trilogy in years so I can’t quite do an accurate comparison to those films. This may help to view Jason Bourne as its own film without thinking of it in terms of how it stacks up to the others. There are enough flashbacks and quick references to past events to put you back in the right mindset. It should also satisfy anyone coming into this without having seen the other three. Paul Greengrass is the right man to bring the clan back together. Just when you think the movie is over, he pulls off the biggest and most exciting sequence of the whole movie throughout the casino-laden streets of Vegas. I don’t think this franchise shows any signs of slowing down. I’d be curious to see if and how the Damon and Renner storylines will come together in the future.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Thanks to Damon, Bourne’s a tried and true character. Sign me up for more.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS