You know his name, the tagline says. In fact, we know Jason Bourne more than a name; we know his story and history via his intense trilogy and legacy. Not that Bourne Legacy, but the legacy inherited to modern action-thriller in general: a powerhouse of intensity – a combination of flashy action sequences, hip-hop montages and dynamic shaky cam. Bourne did not merely restore action-thriller tropes, his presence also marks one of the most essential trilogy in the beginning of this century.
Obviously, when Supremacy and Ultimatum helmer, Paul Greengrass decided to return and reunite with the one and only Bourne, Matt Damon, for another round, expectation escalated. While Bourne’s attempt to rediscover his truly self has hit the climactic conclusion at the end of Ultimatum, yet, Jason Bourne seems to still gain more interest in his past life a little bit further.
The new episode begins when former CIA field operative, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) hacks black-ops file in which she found more facts about some former ops like Treadstone and Blackfriar, as well as an ongoing one, Ironhand. She also learned a sensitive clue about Bourne’s recruiting, which indicates his father’s involvement. Meanwhile, a traumatized Bourne (Damon) is on a self-exile in marginal area of Greece. As it turns out, Parsons’ information leads Bourne into a perplexed intrigue involving CIA director, Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones), a tech-savvy, Aaron Kallor (Riz Ahmed) and a cyber-agent, Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander).
Refusing to move on from the self-discovery theme, the new Bourne penned by Greengrass and co-writer/editor, Christophern Rouse attempts to fathom Bourne’s blurry past as the fuel. Yet, it never appears as complex and thought-provoking as the predecessors; Jason Bourne oversimplifies all aspects. Results corner empty and dragged intrigues as source of problems. Tony Gilroy’s departure from writer team has proven to be a downfall in this recent tenure.
The first hour feels like an effort to appear complex as the script tries to connect every dot between characters. Minimum action sequences and Bourne’s silent pact does not help at all. Even when real-world issues in regards to online privacy threat and post-Snowden distrust are inserted to escalate Jason Bourne; the whole story lacks of profoundness and depth.
When it comes to action sphere, we ought to be grateful that Greengrass doesn’t lose his touch. Motorcycle chase in the midst of rioting Athena feels so intense and well-choreographed. A combination of quick fire with short cuts and raw camera movement might drop your jaw. Meanwhile, SWAT car chase in Las Vegas, although has an over-the-top feeling, is depicted with full energy and intensity. Any director might do this money-shot, but none can imitate Greengrass’ full-powered details and thrills – a real asset to this franchise.
Surprisingly, CQC fighting sequences as Bourne’s flesh-and-bone character are almost non-existent. There are some fighting sequences, which tend to be forgettable with an exception, in which Bourne turns into a one-punch man early in the film. While action sequences along with espionage intrigues had the power to move the plot in the original trilogy, same rules do not apply in this self-titled one.
Fortunately, acting department is rich of valuable gems. Matt Damon might unravel a different Bourne as usual – a more vicious, a more mechanic and silent one (with only approx. 25 lines throughout the film). This new Bourne suffers from lack of sympathy, but Damon’s total dedication gives this a new layer. Meanwhile, Jones’ CIA director is generally more one-dimensional than a complex, fully-developed character; but Jones is convincingly manifesting the old man’s grumpiness into a balancing bridge between Damon’s silence and Vikander’s charm.
Speaking of Vikander, her Heather Lee might seem like a typical Bourne girl (pun intended!), similar to Franka Potente in Identity and Supremacy; however, it’s not completely correct. Heather Lee is more complex than she initially looks. She starts as an opposition to Bourne’s stance, but as time goes by, her motivation is getting blurred into a climactic third-act sudden turn. Vikander gives life to Lee’s fury and exacerbation to some extent. Should there be a continuation to Bourne francise, her character might reappear as a typical recurring character or even a pivotal one.
In the end, Jason Bourne is still making a bold proof of Greengrass-Damon’s powerhouse combination; however, it doesn’t have enough energy not to appear as weakest entry in Bourne franchise. Nevertheless, all the best aspects from the original trilogy are perfectly integrated into a new frame, minus complexity to the story. As a plus point, Jason Bourne is lucky enough to have Alicia Vikander, who injects extra-vigor to weary Bourne.
Jason Bourne (2016)