The CIA’s most dangerous former operative is drawn out of hiding to uncover more explosive truths about his past.
Director: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, Julia Stiles, Vincent Cassel, Riz Ahmed, Ato Essandoh
Rated: PG-13 (intense sequences of violence and action, and brief strong language)
By Cole Schneider
The Bourne franchise will go down as one of the best of all-time. A century from now film students will be writing essays on it while other young people will be enjoying it for the first time. These films have changed the game, showing that action blockbusters can be as kinetic as a Michael Bay film while not only maintaining their intelligence, but setting a new bar in mixing political commentary with high entertainment. Thanks to writer/director Paul Greengrass and megastar Matt Damon, these films have engaged our senses and our brains. And 2016’s “Jason Bourne” does too, just less so.
Nine years have passed since the Bourne saga came to it’s presumptive, chilling end in “The Bourne Ultimatum” so when Damon reprises the role here, he does it with grayer hair and a baggier face. He’s in an existential crisis living on the other side of all he remembers. The world around him is in existential crisis too, unable to settle on a balance between national security and freedom. “Jason Bourne” is very much a post-Snowden film, which nestles comfortably within the framework of the Bournes saga.
The chase scenes–a hallmark of the franchise–are also here, including a brilliant romp through Athens to start. In fact, if Bourne is to be judged on it’s current events commentary and action scenes, the two things embodying Bourne, then it lives up to it’s task. Unfortunately, where the basic story elements of the first three films were so perfect that we didn’t even notice them, here there are rough edges: characters are underdeveloped and their motivations are tidy. Nonetheless, “Jason Bourne” is exciting, enriching cinema compared to many of its counterparts.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
By Matt Greene
While watching Jason Bourne, I glanced at my watch. Over an hour in, our hero had yet to do anything but broodily walk, until he finally did something [they thought was] cool: set off a bunch of fire alarms. Yep. This is how the almost-super-human spy agent uses his abilities in this latest installment. That lackluster thinking makes this film feel more like Greengrass and Damon’s Green Zone than their Bourne films. Don’t remember Green Zone? Exactly. Stultifying, sullen, and characterless, this should’ve been called Jason Boring.
Much like the other amnesiatic spy’s adventures, this film is basically just two worlds cut together: corrupt agents staring at computers and having charismaless conversations, and Bourne running around broodingly beating people up. Greengrass takes his refusal to keep the camera still to frustrating heights, as the camera is so close and incomprehensibly shaky, it’s like what’s happening in the combat and chase scenes is none of our business. Outside the terrible action, there’s corny computer-hacking secondhand; a dizzying amount of location jumping; dispassionately convenient flashbacks; and a generic, drum-based action-thriller score
Its biggest problem is it serves zero purpose within the Bourne franchise, or within movies at large, that we can get better of elsewhere. The other Bourne films and even the recent Captain America franchise have covered similar themes of governmental oversight and privacy to much stronger effect. What we’re left with is a Jason Bourne who is now more angsty than he is awesome. So while some may be happy to revisit this series, I’m getting sick of watching Damon wear brown clothes and a one-shoulder-backpack walk around exotic cities with a sad look on his face.
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars