Review: Jason Bourne
Cinema: Jason Bourne (2016)
In my opinion the Bourne movies helped to make James Bond relevant again! The brutal close combat and taut story really showed Bond a thing or two, and I believe it was a major influence in the direction of the most recent 007 movies. It’s been 9 years since the last Bourne film, (I’m not counting the Jeremy Renner effort), and the landscape has changed with Daniel Craig fully establishing Bond with the help of Sam Mendes, who directed the critically and commercially acclaimed Skyfall. So now here is the big question; is Jason Bourne still relevant?
At the end of The Bourne Ultimatum, Jason Bourne finally discovered the secrets about his past and was presumed dead, which allowed him to live his life in anonymity. In the latest instalment he is struggling to come to terms with a so called normal life and enters himself into bare knuckle fights to either dull the pain of his past or feel some kind of relief. Or it could be just to show that he is still a bad ass capable of cracking someone’s skull!
Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) contacts Bourne with information about his deceased father which unlocks memories leading to flashbacks about their final meeting before he died. The CIA is now led by Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) whom along with hotshot analyst Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) are out to stop Bourne before he discovers more secrets that they hoped would stay buried.
Director Paul Greengrass returns along with Matt Damon who reprises his role in the movies that helped to propel him to superstardom. I’d read interviews with Damon who famously said that he wouldn’t play Bourne again unless Greengrass was on board. Watching Jason Bourne you can understand why, as the direction is technically exceptional. Greengrass really manages to draw you into the movie making you feel as if you are there with his fast, kinetic, handheld style. There is a set piece chase through a riot in Greece that was edge of your seat stuff and made you wonder how the hell you could organise such chaos let alone direct it!
The Bourne movies have always had a great supporting cast with the likes of Albert Finney, Joan Allen and Chris Cooper among others to add gravitas to the proceedings, and the current movie is no exception. Tommy Lee Jones is his normal gruff self whilst Alicia Vikander is very good as a driven and career minded analyst who is determined to prove her worth. Vincent Cassel is also excellent as the ‘asset’ who is hot on Bournes trail.
My biggest problem with Jason Bourne was that it all seemed very familiar. The plot about him having flashbacks regarding his father felt like a rehash of the earlier movies where he was trying to discover who he was. There is a subplot about a social media mogul being pressured by the CIA to allow them access to private records of their users for the greater good. I felt this took focus away from the main story and seemed a little clichéd.
Saying all that, Jason Bourne was a very well made thriller with great direction and the 2 hour running time flew by. The set pieces and action are excellent as are the performances. If you’re a fan of the franchise I’m sure you won’t be disappointed, I just worry which direction any future movies will take as it has the potential, unfortunately, to become a little stale.