You know his name. But should you see him again?
Jason Bourne (2016) is the latest entry into the action/thriller Bourne franchise, once again directed by Paul Greengrass. It stars Damon as the titular amnesiac spy who’s dragged back into an intelligence war with the CIA after Nicky (Julia Stiles) uncovers the next black-ops CIA program dubbed Iron Hand, as well as more clues to Bourne’s past life.
After the spectacular original trilogy of Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum redefined the action genre, its not hard to see the appeal of continuing the franchise. But storywise, did it need to? There’s definitely an argument for the no. The first three films wrapped up a cohesive arch and narrative brilliantly, and Jason Bourne does little in the way in expanding the plot of those films. It simply doesn’t have the intrigue or narrative push, and often struggled to validate its existence faced with the sheer impressiveness of all that came before. Its still the Bourne fans love – the Government conspiracy’s, chase sequences and everything else all make appearances – but it often feels like its going through the motions. Its not fresh and ground-breaking like the last trilogy, and while its certainly still good, it just can’t fail to come up short as a fourth act.
However, the most defining attribute of the original trilogy has reappeared in full force. The action here is awesome. Damon and Greengrass know their way comfortably around an action scene by now, and all of the tension, kick-assery and shaky-cam expected appears full force in Jason Bourne. While the film is peppered with moments, two standouts at the beginning at the end are worth writing home about, when Bourne is escaping Athen’s during a riot and then chasing someone down the busy Las Vegas strip. Both chases are thrilling, tense and showcase some impressive stunt and camera work – as expected from the Bourne series. Doubtful if it tops the previous two instalments, but its still a damn fine effort.
Another carry-over from the trilogy is, of course, Matt Damon. No Renner to be seen here. While he reportedly only has 25 lines in the entire film, he once again owns the role – selling the conflicting confusion and capability of the amnesiac spy flawlessly. The rest of the cast, while also quite good, sadly do not have three films of backstory and tend to come across thinner than the paycheck they’re receiving. Tommy Lee Jones plays gruff mysterious man-in-suit #427, and while its an archetype Jones has all but perfected, its an archetype none-the-less. Alicia Vikander plays n equally thin character, this one being the stereotypical fresh-faced but talented rookie who takes an interest in Bourne’s case. In her defence, she does an excellent job with little to work with, and ends up in an interesting position for the sequel, but sadly still can’t quite transcend her restraints. Overall the writing of both the characters and dialogue is clearly not to the standard of the previous outings, with the characters spouting a few too many cliches for my liking. Its poor material, but the talented cast still manages to keep it engaging beyond the page.
Jason Bourne is almost the epitome of the unnecessary sequel. It feels recycled, doesn’t have enough story from the previous film to work with, and almost feels phoned in occaisionally. But regardless, if there was any franchise that I am content to watch more of, its Bourne. Fans will get what they want, audiences will get an entertaining kick, and sceptics aren’t going to be convinced.
General Audiences: Recommended
Film Buffs: Meh
True Believers (Bourne): Recommended