Bourne is back! After a 9-year hiatus, Matt Damon reprises everyone’s favorite amnesic government assassin on the run. With the highly forgettable Bourne-less spin-off “The Bourne Legacy” behind us, “Jason Bourne” picks up the story that hasn’t been visited since 2007’s “The Bourne Ultimatum”. With Paul Greengrass returning to the director’s chair and Damon back in the leading role, it’s good to have the series back on track. I had my doubts as to whether or not Damon could play Bourne at an older age while continuing a story that was widely considered to have reached its conclusion. However, it is safe to say that the film perfectly captures the spirit of what made these films so enjoyable since the franchise’s debut back in 2002.
The plot picks up nearly a decade after Damon’s previous outing. Having recovered from his amnesia, Jason Bourne is living a quiet life on the other side of the world taking part in illegal fighting rings. After a failed computer hack by old friend Nicky Parsons (played again by Julia Stiles), she tracks down Bourne in the hopes of revealing the truth about the agency that turned him into a killer. When CIA director Robert Dewey (played brilliantly by Tommy Lee Jones) gets a hold of his location, he hopes to bring him out of the shadows dead or alive. With Bourne recovering even more information from his blurry past, he finds himself back in action once again going up against the relentless agency that has destroyed his life.
Although this film is fairly entertaining from start to finish, the three shining attributes would have to be the acting, direction and score. Matt Damon slips right back into playing the character that brought him into the action movie genre. You really can see how the agency’s pursuit and personal loss have affected his current state of life. Bourne is older and depressed. He just wants to break free from his old life and survive. Tommy Lee Jones plays a new character with an interesting past that ties into Bourne’s father. He has been so pushed into the emotionless mindset of the agency that he will do whatever it takes to use Bourne as a hired killer or kill him himself if he fails to comply. Without spoiling the interesting new plot points, the film provides some insightful flashback sequences that provide an even deeper backstory for Jason Bourne and his familial reason for joining the agency. This really helped ground the character and added an entirely new depth to him as a whole. As for Greengrass, his signature documentary-style camerawork is recaptured and mastered by this point. Ever since 2004’s sequel “The Bourne Supremacy”, the films have maintained a consistent use of a constantly-moving camera to create a heightened sense of urgency. Although it has been replicated much since then while earning its own negative connotation with the derogatory title, “shaky cam”, Greengrass shows that he is still the master of this style of filmmaking that he made famous over a decade ago. The quick edits and constant movement go hand-in-hand with this kind of film. And let’s not forget the return of the iconic orchestral soundtrack from the previous entries. Jason’s memorable theme and the pre-credits indicator are still intact. It is great to hear again.
As far as sequels with large time gaps go, this one is certainly admirable. However, the film’s narrative is somewhat muddled by the second act and a lot of what is expected in a Bourne movie is on display. Once the middle of the story comes, unnecessary subplots begin to detract from Bourne’s journey. When you come to see a movie called “Jason Bourne”, that is the character you want the focus to be on. This is only a minor issue as the film quickly becomes aware of this flaw and shifts the focus back to lead into a high-octane final act. The action sequences in this movie are nothing short of memorable. Some of the best action in the entire series is in the ending scenes. An amazing car chase in Las Vegas stands out as a highlight of the franchise. As awesome as it was to have the big car scene or the big fight scene, it almost seems as if the film is pandering to the audience’s expectations. A checklist of typical Bourne movie occurrences can be taken into the theater and the boxes can all be checked one by one. To be fair, the original three Bourne movies were known to repeat formula. So, this doesn’t necessarily have to be seen as a negative but rather as a repeated trademark. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.
This new chapter isn’t as well-crafted as the original Damon trilogy, but it sure welcomes back the character and opens the door for future installments. It shows that time has not taken a toll on the series and I would love to see a final film conclude Jason’s story. It didn’t add a whole lot to the table, but the expanded backstory and action-packed delivery kept the film from slowing down. It may be more of the same, but everything tied together nicely. If you are a fan of the Bourne movies, then you will most likely have a fun time with this one. “Jason Bourne” is now in theaters everywhere. 3.75/5