Film Review – Jason Bourne

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Back by popular demand, apparently. Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass swore they wouldn’t return to the Bourne franchise, and yet audience enthusiasm eventually made them think twice. Jason Bourne, the fourth in this lucrative amnesiac assassin series loosely based on Robert Ludlum’s novels (not counting 2012’s tepid Damon free spinoff The Bourne Legacy), doesn’t really contribute anything new. Yet even though all the plot elements are essentially reworked from previous films, the result is a solidly entertaining, well-acted and directed spy thriller.

Admittedly, attempts have been made to bring the Bourne series up to date by including social media guru Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed), who is in bed with the CIA under the directorship of Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones). Dewey wants a cyber back door into Kalloor’s new social media project Deep Dream, despite Kalloor’s insistence that users have total privacy. Elsewhere Greek austerity riots are used as a backdrop to Bourne’s (Damon) initial meetup with Nicky (Julia Stiles), who has uncovered yet another sinister black ops programme, along with further nuggets of information about Bourne’s past. Yet despite this, the suspense is considerably less nerve-shredding this time, mainly because of a pervading been-there, done-that, looked-through-the-telescopic-sight vibe. One friend of mine quipped that he played Bourne lingo bingo whilst watching this (“Living off the grid”, “Activate the asset”, “Bring him in or tie it off”, “You have no idea who you’re dealing with!” and so on).

All that said, Greengrass directs the efficient thrills with his usual shakycam flair, and like other films in the series makes good use of real locations – principally Athens, Berlin, London and Las Vegas. Performances are all good (including Alicia Vikander who has a key role as Heather Lee, Dewey’s sympathetic but ambitious deputy), and as ever John Powell’s driving score works well, as does the familiar blast of Moby’s Extreme Ways (in yet another remix) over the end credits.

In short, Jason Bourne isn’t in the same league as the earlier films (The Bourne Ultimatum remains the high point), but it is an enjoyable, well-made thriller that ticks the appropriate boxes.

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2 Responses to Film Review – Jason Bourne

  1. fernyfilms says:

    The first two are awesome. The first is just an excellent self contained story and very colourful and energetic (plus less cynical than the Greengrass films). The second is the darker “Empire Strikes back” part (if you like), a complete gut punch! It also had by far the best chase sequence of all the films, plus the wonderfully powerful scene of atonement where Bourne confronts the young girl at the end. The lack of Franka Potente’s humanising and Brian Cox duplicitous behaviour hurts Ultimatum for me, I never really had great affinity with it (I rewatched it on Tuesday and feel the same). I respect it (in particular that Waterloo set-piece), I just don’t love it. My favourite parts are usually the bits where it was riffing with the previous films (eg. Look at what they make you give + the sequence at the end of Supremacy given a new spin).

    • simondillon says:

      Yes the narrative jiggery pokery of Ultimatum, wherein the bulk of the film is set between the penultimate and final scenes of Supremecy, is really rather cool.

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