Jason Bourne, 2016.
Directed by Paul Greengrass.
Starring Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Tommy Lee Jones, Ato Essandoh, Riz Ahmed and Scott Shepherd.
Jason Bourne, now remembering who he truly is, tries to uncover hidden truths about his past.
While doing some research on The Bourne Franchise (I have seen the first three but have not seen the fourth film that didn’t star Matt Damon) to fully get the plot of Jason Bourne correct in my head, I came across this interesting quote from Matt Damon that is most definitely relevant to its hiatus and resurrection.
“I think in terms of another one, the story of this guy’s search for his identity is over, because he’s got all the answers, so there’s no way we can trot out the same character, and so much of what makes him interesting is that internal struggle that was happening for him, am I a good guy, am I a bad guy, what is the secret behind my identity, what am I blocking out, why am I remembering these disturbing images? So all of that internal propulsive mechanism that drives the character is not there, so if there was to be another one then it would have to be a complete reconfiguration, you know, where do you go from there? For me I kind of feel like the story that we set out to tell is has now been told. I love the character, and if Paul Greengrass calls me in ten years and says, ‘Now we can do it, because it’s been ten years and I have a way to bring him back,’ then there’s a world in which I can go, ‘Yeah, absolutely.’ We could get the band back together if there was a great idea behind it, but in terms of now and this story, that part—the story’s been told.”
To be fair, Matt Damon does say that he would have done another one of these movies if writer/director Paul Greengrass had a worthy idea to bring Jason Bourne back into the fold, but there really isn’t that great of a narrative concept behind this movie. The aforementioned quote from Matt Damon makes it sound as if he wanted a totally different take on the character, almost reborn in a way considering that the original trilogy of movies had well, told the story that was intended to be told.
Jason Bourne does start off interesting; it has the character taking part in fight clubs while staying off the grid surviving in Athens Greece, living life not necessarily how you would have expected him to after the ending to The Bourne Ultimatum, but still believable and understandable. He’s aged, worn down a little, but boy oh boy can he kick loads of ass; he seriously knocks all of his competitors out with one punch!. It’s also worth noting that Matt Damon only has 25 lines in Jason Bourne, which is definitely something that works; Damon is a terrific actor meaning that from facial expressions alone you can just sense that all this guy wants is to finally be at peace and to complete the missing links of his memory that are related to his father.
That’s the one frustrating issue with Jason Bourne though, we haven’t moved on into something new or different, even though Matt Damon said he would only come back if the franchise had a bold new direction. Instead, we have a movie where Jason Bourne tails a bunch of people, knocks a bunch of people out, gets into some amazing vehicle chases (more on this specifically later because the film’s final sequence is arguably one of the most exciting extended action scenes in the history of the genre), pieces together his past, and then does something really badass before that Moby song traditionally kicks in during the ending credits to let you know you just watched a really cool movie. Jason Bourne is a Bourne movie in 2016, which is both a blessing and a curse.
The story to this movie truly is a bit unnecessarily complex with far too many characters, but also comes with some Edward Snowden privacy style social commentary (at one point a character even mentions that what’s happening could be worse than the acts of Edward Snowden). That angle is appreciated, although it never really takes on the shape of something remarkable. It fits into the story well enough, but for the most part viewers will want Matt Damon back on screen picking up random objects and smacking enemies upside the head with them. Let’s face it, that’s really why we’re here in the first place.
What does benefit Jason Bourne however are some, as mentioned, absolutely magnificent chase sequences, with one in particular taking place up, down, around, and even inside some casinos all over the Las Vegas strip. There is no CGI special enhancements, but rather good old-fashioned stunt-work; it’s nearly impossible not to sit there mouth dropped wide-open while Jason Bourne is chasing a SWAT van with both the determination to kill his would-be assassin and also to simply survive the nonstop barrage of cars being obliterated and shoved into his path. Vincent Cassel also makes for a damn good villain; he’s a menacing and intimidating sniper that also just comes across as nasty with knives. Tommy Lee Jones on the other hand looks like he’s half-asleep, but that’s also pretty much Tommy Lee Jones in any movie nowadays.
It would also feel wrong to write a review for Jason Bourne (or any Bourne movie for that matter) without mentioning the aggressive shaky camera movements director Paul Greengrass employs throughout the entirety of the film. Simply put, the action is coherent and easy to decipher, and while I agree that the camera constantly jerking around characters that are just sitting around talking can be distracting and superfluous to the film’s style, I never had any problems focusing on the dialogue or even reading text messages/computer screens within the world. So, if it’s bothering you that much it might be time to see the eye doctor.
Jason Bourne may start out slow, but it continuously builds upon that boiling momentum before exploding into a grand finale that makes you truly happy the franchise has been brought back. In a summer of largely disappointing blockbusters, no, Jason Bourne is not the best of the bunch or even an amazing action film, but it’s a cut above most of the crap being pushed out into theaters. Matt Damon sells the hell out of the character making you invested in his every move, the blistering action is satisfying, and the added social commentary touch definitely gives the film some bite and offers viewers something to think about afterwards. The goal here is obviously to make people want more Jason Bourne, so to that I say mission accomplished.
Furthermore, while writing this review I had an epiphany and discovered why Matt Damon accepted to come back for a Jason Bourne film with such a lackluster overall story; it’s one awesome movie and can stand on its own as a worthy entry into the franchise based on that alone.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★