Review by Chic
In the almost ten years since the third installment in the Jason Bourne series, star Matt Damon has had a bit of a spotty career record. Until the box office and critical success of “The Martian”, he starred in some big budget movies that under-performed and underwhelmed. It only made sense for he and director Paul Greengrass to return to the character that has yet to not impress.
Thankfully, they’ve stopped putting ominous sounding words such as “ultimatum” or “supremacy” in the title and are going with the simple, yet cool sounding “Jason Bourne.” The time spent away seems to have affected the memory of the filmmakers as there are several “been there, done that” moments in the story, but the action is fully mind blowing thanks to the world-class skill of Greengrass.
As usual, Jason Bourne (Damon) is alone in the world, living day to day and staying off the grid. These days, he has turned to bare knuckle boxing near Athens, Greece to make a living. His world is turned upside down when Nicky Parsons (franchise regular Julia Stiles) shows up and tells Jason there is yet again something he doesn’t know about his past.
Naturally, the CIA is all over this and the new director of cyber crime, Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), is assigned by CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) to lead what seems like the one thousandth “Find Jason Bourne” task force. Dewey brings in The Asset (Vincent Cassel), a trained assassin in the same mold as Jason, to facilitate putting Jason down once and for all.
There is a timely aspect to “Jason Bourne” as a layer of the story involves a social network corporation’s CEO, Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed), and the issue of internet privacy. Naturally, CIA Director Dewey and Aaron don’t see eye to eye on that pesky spying issue and both Jason’s and this storyline crash together at a tech conference in Las Vegas.
“Crash together” is not a metaphor. The final 45 minutes of “Jason Bourne” is the most breathtaking, pulse-pounding, and eye-popping series of events to occur in the entire film franchise. Production shut down the Las Vegas Strip for several hours a night for almost two weeks to create what isn’t so much a car chase sequence as the most hardcore movie demolition derby of all time.
That finale does make up for what somehow feels like an anti-climatic return for such an iconic character. Yes, Jason Bourne is a spy and as the old saying goes “spies gonna spy”, but watching him buzz around from Greece to Berlin to London, looking at files on encrypted drives then systematically dispatching his pursuers is old hat at this point. Also, it wouldn’t hurt for one of the Bourne flicks to not play the CIA as villains every time out.
The simple fact is that Paul Greengrass can direct circles around nearly everyone in the movie business, even when he allows his editor (Christopher Rouse) go completely rogue and make what seems like a cut every half second. Also, if you thought that Greengrass had learned there is such a thing called a Steadicam, well, you are mistaken and those with queasy, motion sick-apt tummies may want to avoid this one.
Several actors in “Jason Bourne” seem to be going through the motions. Tommy Lee Jones can play slimy bureaucrat in his sleep and he seems less than convicted here. The last few years have been excellent for Alicia Vikander, but there’s no doubt that she’s been much, much better than the one-note, doggedly determined CIA agent she’s portraying here.
Oddly enough, the two most impressive performances are from the people who are almost doing a Marcel Marcel impersonation. Vincent Cassel is fantastic as the no-nonsense hit man, even if he’s essentially a blunt instrument used to kill.
It was an intentional move to have Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne say as little as possible and it is inspired. It makes complete sense for this character to rarely speak as everyone he’s ever known either turns on him or is tragically killed. This is a top notch physical performance from Damon and he conveys all you need to know with his actions.
“Jason Bourne” is not the best in the series, but it is an entertaining action movie created with seemingly all practical special effects. It does leave the door open for Jason to return. However, barring a serious change in the typical plot line or ramping up the action even further (which may not be possible), it may not be needed as it seems like the Jason Bourne train has entered the station.