*Originally written August 3rd, 2016*
Director Paul Greengrass joked that a new film in the Bourne franchise should be called 'The Bourne Redundency', which is ironic, considering he just directed a film which would have suited that title a lot better than 'Jason Bourne'. Jason Bourne isn't a bad film per-se, it's actually a very entertaining one. It's just, at the end of the day, this whole thing felt very pointless and I'm not sure why they bothered. I'm a big fan of this series, I like them all (even Legacy), but I agree with most when they say Bourne Ultimatum was a perfect ending for the CIA assassin with amnesia.
After a 9 year absence, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is drawn out of hiding by Nikki Parsons (Julia Stiles) after she uncovers some hacked information from the CIA that involves Bourne's deceased father. Bourne is then hunted by a CIA operative Heather (Alicia Vikander), the director of the CIA Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and an assassin (Vincent Cassel)
Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon both said they wouldn't come back unless they had a "perfect script", which makes this return to the franchise for both of them since 2007 a very strange affair. Although the script itself was penned by Greengrass, I have a very hard time believing anyone involved thought that what they worked with was even close to the original trilogy. In many ways it feels like a greatest hits collection from the Bourne series. Just not as fresh as it was nearly 10 years ago.
This is a Bourne film through and through. There's no denying that. We have people in control rooms watching Bourne on monitors, a rent-an-assassin trying to kill Bourne, a dead love interest and of course... the awful shakey-cam that tries its hardest to derail every single action scene. I'm so confused at what Paul Greengrass is thinking. Why does he think good action is framing a scene so it's borderline impossible to follow what's going on? Someone needs to stop him. He's a good director and can tell some truly compelling stories, but he just can't film action at all.
There is some decent action though. The finale through the Las Vegas strip is really decent and did some cool stuff. I even managed to follow most of it, which is a godsend when it comes to Greengrass. The first act ending set-piece in Greece good too, although the shakey-cam nearly did ruin it. I honestly had no idea what was happening in a few shots. It's surprising at how little action there was in Jason Bourne actually, aside from the Greece and Vegas scenes, I'm having a hard time recalling any other action.
As fun as the few action scenes are, the story feels like a rehash of what's come before it with nothing new brought to the table. Jason Bourne really has a hard time justifying its existence as a film. While this is a more watchable film than The Bourne Legacy, I will at least admit that Legacy at the very least went in a different direction, Jason Bourne on the other hand is just a remix of stuff we've seen before. Just with new actors and a time jump. Aside from Matt Damon, the only other returning actor was Julia Stiles, who is given such a disservice considering she's been in the series since Identity. I won't spoil it, but based on the trailers, you can take a pretty good guess at what they do with her character and be right.
The biggest problem is that ultimately, nothing really happens. While we go through the motions of the story and its brisk and entertaining runtime, once that Moby song plays as we cut to credits, Bourne is back where he was at the start and all the audience and Bourne has learned a few new things about his past. It all just didn't seem worth it. I will obviously watch more Bourne films, but I just don't think there is any more story to tell. The script wasn't great either, there's a few lame and heavy handed references to Snowden that made me laugh out loud.
I'm sounding very negative, I still did really enjoy it for the most part, it just has a lot of problems, but there a some more positives on top of the action scenes. Matt Damon is reliable and good as ever as Bourne, he's much more quiet this time, but no less badass than he's ever been. Tommy Lee Jones brought things to life as the villain, although he was pretty much Brian Cox from the previous films.
Vincent Cassel was wasted as the hitman with a grudge against Bourne, we get his motivation, but there's no more depth other than that he's a complete pyschopath that kills a lot of random civilians. Lastly there was Alicia Vikander, who was a confusing character to say the least. Vikander plays the role with zero emotion, a singular facial expression and her motives are far from clear, even by the end.
It did look really nice too. The cinematography was all fine and I liked the lighting, especially in the control rooms, they all had this pretty looking blue glow. As a globe-trotting film they showed of the countries they filmed in pretty well.
Jason Bourne doesn't live up the heights of the original trilogy and it does nothing new, but its still an entertaining ride and fun to see Matt Damon back and badass as ever as Bourne.
Jason Bourne is out now on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
Watch the the trailer below:
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