Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon's return to the Bourne franchise makes for one stale and played out film. The action is sometimes impressive, but Jason Bourne never quite shakes that been-there-done-that feel.
After the disaster known as The Bourne Legacy, Universal opted to patiently wait for the return of writer/director Paul Greengrass and star Matt Damon for the stalled sequel Jason Bourne, which is a less appealing re-hash of the original films, only this time with not as strong of a focus on Bourne, his story and what made the first films work as a cohesive trilogy of spy thrillers.
Jason Bourne is a step up in quality filmmaking when compared to The Bourne Legacy, but only because Matt Damon is and will always be the only person that should star in a Bourne-centered film. Also, Paul Greengrass‘ eye for brutal in-your-face hand-to-hand action combat sequences is unmatched.
Greengrass knows how to put you smack dab in the middle of his action, employing frantic camera movement and lots of bone-crunching violence to really make his action speak to you through the screen.
Unfortunately, Damon’s role as the film’s titular character is sidelined to make room for the less interesting CIA Director Robert Dewey, played with a walking dead approach by Tommy Lee Jones.
Tommy Lee Jones is a fine actor, but one that doesn’t look or feel all that invested in his role. This is ignoring the fact that he’s literally playing the same character that other actors have played in the first three films.
Jason Bourne is a rehash of the first three films, only with more time spaced out in between the films and with different locations.
The classified Black Ops files have simply been re-named and some of the characters’ motives shifted around ever so slightly in an attempt to cover up the lazy and unmotivated script.
Paul Greengrass must’ve needed an easy check, same with Matt Damon, because there is absolutely nothing new or exciting about Jason Bourne, despite the returning talent.
Jason Bourne follows the titular character as he steps back onto the grid in hopes of finding answers to even more CIA shenanigans. This time around, his dad is involved, not to mention two new agents that we’ve never really heard of until now.
CIA Director Robert Dewey (Lee Jones) and Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander). Dewey is your typical higher up shady two-sided agenda type of man that simply wants Bourne brought in or killed no matter the cost, plus a few other bystanders standing in his way. Heather on the other hand seems more concerned with unraveling the true story behind the black tape.
Jason Bourne does its best to keep its plot convoluted, but it ends up being a mostly soupy affair that mixes in your typical Bourne cliches with an updated cast.
The film’s “reveals” are mostly weightless, while most of the core characters are lacking the energy to keep focus on them for more than five minutes, despite Dewey getting an odd amount of important screen time, while Bourne is simply running around and beating up low-level agents.
Jason Bourne is an oddly unbalanced film that wastes too much of its precious screen time on moments that don’t really matter, while scattering up its action into tiny, bite-sized bits.
Some of these bits are truly impressive and a strong defense for the return of Paul Greengrass. Particularly a Vegas strip car chase and a brutal fight between Damon and Vincent Cassel‘s character. Greengrass’ shaky in-your-face approach absolutely works for this film’s action scenes. It’s purposely frantic and occasionally all over the place, but it works effectively because Greengrass gives it meaning and purpose.
The rest of the film is a retread of familiar plot points picked out from the first three Bourne films, only this time with less effect.
Jason Bourne definitely tries to infuse our modern obsession with social media into the mix of spy espionage, but it does so poorly and mostly feels like the only thing associated with putting a date on this film.
Otherwise, the rest of the film feels like a carbon copy of any of the three original films.
And this is exactly why Jason Bourne doesn’t exactly work. It’s been almost ten years since we last saw a Greengrass/Damon Bourne film and yet they weren’t able to bring anything new to the table.
This sort of thing might have worked once or twice, but not three or four, not to mention the ten-year gap.
Fans of the original three films might not hate this film, because it’s pretty much the same thing. But those looking for a new chapter in the Bourne series will be sadly disappointed by the lack of creative drive behind Jason Bourne.
It’s a simple cash grab. Filmed with a skilled eye in terms of shooting action, but still just a cash grab that proves even the greats like Damon and Greengrass will settle for “same old shit” if it means getting a paycheck.