Jason Bourne


I love the Bourne series, but my ranking of the films seems decidedly different to other fans’. The Bourne Identity was a stunning action film (easily one of the best of the 2000s) yet criminally overlooked until the sequel came out. That film, The Bourne Supremacy, was a great follow-up, but a definite step down. Then came The Bourne Ultimatum, which featured atrocious dialogue (a first for the series) numerous plot points that made no sense, and a narrative that was little more than an addendum to the second film. By comparison, I didn’t have high expectations for The Bourne Legacy, so the one didn’t bother me that much (even though the climax was primarily concerned with a man slowly nodding off to sleep.)

Jason Bourne 01And now director Paul Greengrass returns with Matt Damon to the franchise that spawned a tonne of imitations in the last 14 years or so. Bourne’s been in hiding all this time, and it’s up to Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) to bring him out of retirement and get back to jumping from city to city, creating traffic jams with “assets” hot on his trail. As with the previous films, there’s some retconning going on, though nothing as clever as what they did with Nicky in the third film. And, as with film no.2 and 3, the flashbacks are blatant and repetitive, and much like Ultimatum, any revelations awaiting us aren’t that interesting.

The truly unforgivable thing that Jason Bourne does – with no spoilers – is one of the oldest clichés in the book. And what makes it worse is that they’ve done it before. Two hugely lazy storytelling decisions in four (or five) films is simply not good enough.

Technically speaking, the film is certainly accomplished. There are no stand-out fights like the previous films (will they ever be able to top the pen fight? Or the magazine fight?) and whilst the central car chase is excellent, we’ve already had a bunch of those in the previous films. The cities Bourne visits this time around aren’t that interesting either.

As for new cast members, Tommy Lee Jones is reliable as always. Alicia Vikander is excellent, as with everything she does, though I kept waiting for her to do something a little more exciting (perhaps she’s saving it for Tomb Raider). And Vincent Cassel makes for a decent adversary, even if it’s about time that we had a female asset instead. There’s a subplot about social media technology, but to be honest it just felt like a condition of Greengrass’ that had to be met before he signed up to return to the director’s chair.

Looking at Damon’s entries into this franchise now, it’s clear that the series hasn’t branched out since The Bourne Supremacy. As with Ultimatum, this is a serviceable if rather dim-witted entry into the canon.

Rating: 3 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 29th July 2016
Hoopla Factor: 2.5 stars

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