Jason Bourne Review: A Profound Disappointment

Photo Credit:https://themoviemylife.com/2016/02/08/ason-bourne-2016-new-trailer-starring-matt-damon/

With all the duds summer 2016 has put out so far, it was hard to not count on the ever reliable Bourne franchise to save the day. Director Paul Greengrass, helmer of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, two modern action classics, was reuniting with Matt Damon to deliver a legacy sequel that restored hope in summer blockbusters. But Jason Bourne, the fifth of the series, is a hugely disappointing entry with no sense of urgency or drive.

We meet back up with Bourne (a still capable Damon) long after the events of Ultimatum for all intents and purposes ended the character’s story (hence the forgettable but not outwardly terrible The Bourne Legacy, which tried it’s damnedest to turn Jeremy Renner into the new face of the franchise). The spy turned amnesia case has regained his memory, living in solitude in Athens out of the government eye. That is until Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles barely even phoning it in) re-enters his life with information on Bourne’s father’s connection to Treadstone, the CIA program in which Bourne lost his way. The reasons for this aren’t clear exactly other than that it’s a reason to bring Bourne out of hiding.

On the CIA end, Tommy Lee Jones is distractingly cast as the CIA Director, following the same villainous role character actors Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, and David Strathairn played in previous entries. His protege is Heather (Alicia Vikander), who teeters on siding with Bourne shortly after the first act. But the best of these is their assassin (Vincent Cassel, who plays the role with just the right amount of cold and crazy). He has a personal connection to Bourne that feels a bit forced, but their rivalry pays off well enough in terms of action.

Otherwise, action is really the only place Jason Bourne measures up to the others. The motivations, including of our titular hero, feel below a series that never really had to pull the melodrama card in the past. Speaking of the title, you would think slapping his full name on the film would mean some serious introspection on the character or something of the sort. But Bourne really doesn’t have much to do here except search for information about his father. We’re meant to care because it’s his parent, but nothing about his search changes Bourne in any way.

Yet, there are two set pieces that continue the masterful tradition Greengrass started when he took over this series. An extended foot chase turned car chase set to the backdrop of a protest turned violent is as inventive as anything in the original trilogy. The climax on the Las Vegas Strip is visually arresting too, even if the film’s entire arc ends just before it, making it feel more like dessert than part of the actual meal. Both of these wonderfully crafted sequences leave little to care about within, but are astounding to look at nonetheless.

But this film should have given us something to care about. Completely devoid of character moments and replacing them with half-baked philosophies about espionage and evolving technology, Jason Bourne is about as lazy of a sequel as you can get. What should have been the savior of our late-summer blockbuster woes ends up being the biggest disappointment of the season, maybe even the year. Grade: C

By Matt Dougherty

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