Starring Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent Cassel, Riz Ahmed, Julia Stiles
The Bourne series which began in 2002 with director Doug Liman instantly became Oscar winner Matt Damon’s most successful acting venture. The 2004 sequel “The Bourne Supremacy” was handed over to director Paul Greengrass (“United 93”, “Captain Phillips”) who revitalized the series. Greengrass returned to finish out the trilogy in “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007), but not without controversy from Damon, who publically criticized writer Tony Gilroy’s script. The point is, Damon refused a fourth film, they made it without him, ironically directed by Gilroy. Once Greengrass agreed to do another, Damon returned, but this time also serving as a producer. Damon only has 25 lines of dialogue in this action film that fills in the holes of Jason Bourne’s past. It’s also the first film for Alicia Vikander (“Ex Machina”, “The Danish Girl”) since winning the Oscar.
Nicky Parsons (Stiles) has long left the CIA and America for that matter. Working with a shadowy figure named Christian Dassault (Vinzenz Kiefer) who like Snowden, seeks to expose government secrets. The CIA’s new cyber-crimes protégé Heather Lee (Vikander) is alerted to Parsons who is accessing Bourne’s file in Reykjavik. Years after going off the grid, Jason Bourne (Damon) resurfaces with uncovered information on his past. The CIA once again turns into a feeding frenzy, putting their entire focus on Bourne. “I always knew he would come after me,” says CIA Director Robert Dewey (Jones) who is running his own mission to take down their most prized asset. After reading his file, Lee understands the double agenda, making a play to bring Bourne in rather than take him down.
Damon has outgrown this franchise in many ways, which isn’t surprising that he serves more as a figure head to lure ticket buyers back to the franchise.
Greengrass and Damon certainly bring back the essence of the Bourne films: globetrotting, action scenes, and intergovernmental technical babel. In addition, Universal seems to think this re-boot should have a splash of Fast & Furious (their most successful franchise). It isn’t until the final act of the film that Bourne goes completely off the rails (or in this case the streets of Las Vegas) and demonstrates the series most absurd action sequences to date. The script’s entire purpose is to fill in the backstory of how Bourne got to where he is now. Once again we are reminded what Blackbriar and Treadstone operations were. It’s all about the past so a re-watch of the previous films might make it more enjoyable.
Damon has outgrown this franchise in many ways, which isn’t surprising that he serves more as a figure head to lure ticket buyers back to the franchise. He doesn’t deliver a performance here as much as lending his face/body to a name. The majority of the plot is advanced through the dialogue of Jones and Vikander. When Bourne shows up it’s simply Damon walking, running, hiding, or fighting his way through various scenarios. Stiles (“Silver Linings Playbook”), who has seen her star rise and fall over the course of this series has the most predictable character arc. Greengrass too has become such a presence in the world of cinema, his collaboration with Damon on “Green Zone” (2010) was a much smarter, more intense film than what’s presented here. “Jason Bourne” offers nothing new to the franchise, it’s a step backwards for everyone involved, but worse it’s a forgettable addition to an already bleak summer of sequels.
The latest Bourne reboot is another addition to this summer’s long list of unnecessary sequels.