Written by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Barry Ackroyd
WRITERS: Paul Greengrass, Christopher Rouse
MUSIC: John Powell, David Buckley
It’s been nine years since we last saw Matt Damon take on the role of Jason Bourne. After the conclusion of “The Bourne Ultimatum”, it seemed that Bourne’s story had finally come to a close. He remembered who he was and both Damon and director Paul Greengrass seemed to be done with the series.
Then came “The Bourne Legacy” starring Jeremy Renner as a new agent with a new story. While Renner did a decent job, the movie was flawed and featured something about pills that made Renner smart or something stupid like that… I really can’t remember it very well.
After that movie failed to attract a new audience, Universal Studios sought out its original star. Thankfully, Greengrass was onboard to return and that meant that Damon was also ready for another go. Now, the question remains as to whether or not Damon and co. still have what it takes to deliver the action.
Fellow Treadstone survivor Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) returns with new information for Bourne to track down. She has proof of a new CIA program that is worse than Treadstone called Ironhand, led by CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones). Nicky also knows that Bourne is probably the best hope for uncovering and revealing the truth.
When the CIA discovers Parsons trying to get in touch with Bourne, Dewey calls in the Asset (Vincent Cassel) to take care of the situation. Now, the chase is on as Bourne plays another dangerous cat and mouse game with the CIA. So, does the new film work?
Yes and no. First off, it is very easy to say that “Jason Bourne” is a better film than “Legacy”. Damon makes an unsurprisingly welcome return as Bourne, a man who is still trying to come to terms with his violent past. The film’s biggest problem is that it is trying to ham-handedly shove a security vs. freedom subplot into Bourne’s more personal story. It involves some fictional social network company called Deep Dream that proves unnecessary for the most part.
Had they just stuck with Bourne’s discovery of the CIA’s new program and his late father’s involvement in past operations, the movie would have been stronger. It never felt like the original trilogy was trying to shove a moral story down our throats like this film tries to do. My guess is that Greengrass wanted to try and comment on a generation where real people like Edward Snowden now exist.
Despite this, the movie does manage to salvage itself when it focuses on Bourne’s story. The action sequences are good and Greengrass returns to form with his frantic handycam approach. Yes, it is worth noting that if you got a headache at all the deliberately shaky camerawork found in “The Bourne Supermacy” and “Ultimatum”, then you definitely don’t want to watch this movie.
While it takes a minute to get going, Bourne’s new personal mission is worth your time. There are fantastic set pieces worthy of the Bourne franchise. It also helps that Damon is not alone with his solid performance. Jones and his protege played by Alicia Vikander also give solid performances as they try to hunt down Bourne.
The Asset is also another strong villain. He follows a line of deadly super agents that Bourne has squared off against such as Clive Owen’s Professor from “The Bourne Identity” and Karl Urban’s Kirill in “Supremacy”. The Asset even has more of a personal vendetta due to Bourne’s actions in the original films.
I think the problem with this movie is that it does have to battle with how unnecessary it really is and its clumsy social commentary on security vs. freedom. I was ultimately reminded of how satisfied I was with the conclusion of “Ultimatum”. Still, despite the mess it can sometimes make, it is a decent spy thriller that’s worth a look, even if it is showing the age of the franchise.