Release: 28th November 2016
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
Matt Damon returns to his most iconic role in Jason Bourne. Paul Greengrass, the director of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, once again joins Damon for the next chapter of Universal Pictures’ Bourne franchise, which finds the CIA’s most lethal former operative drawn out of the shadows. Jason Bourne, now remembering who he truly is, tries to uncover hidden truths about his past.
Last we saw from Jason Bourne aka David Webb aka The Thorn in Uncle Sam’s side; he was taking a leisurely swim along the East River. Nearly a decade later, he has popped up chinning human mountains in Greece. We’ve seen project Blackbriar’s finest take adversaries out using pens, chairs, cars, guns, feet, windows, towels and the bodies of others; now he has nothing left but the good old one-punch knockout. Clearly all that Hong Kong Phooey was just showing off. And just like the new no-nonsense Bourne, this latest instalment appears eager to just get in, swing a fist, and walk away as quick as possible. It seems in a post Wikileaks world, warfare is now reserved more for laptops that brainwashed super spies.
Director Paul Greengrass is keen to emphasise the visceral threat now posed to Bourne. He is no longer a man on the hunt, but rather a renegade on the run. For a movie rated 12, Jason Bourne is a pretty gritty affair. Bones are crunched, noses broken, blood spilt, knives wielded and caps popped in asses. The Bourne franchise has never been one to shy away from realism, but barring an ugly bit of CGI abseiling, this is a film devoted to making every blow felt. The bonus is that Greengrass is just so damn good at organising chaos; Jason Bourne feels like a massive movie.
It is a shame then that the film is all so familiar. Stop me if you’ve heard this; a team of clandestine techs have their attention drawn to Bourne via grainy CCTV footage, a “team” is sent out and an “asset” swiftly dispatched, the resulting car / foot chase ends in someone getting shot, Bourne goes back underground where he is then shocked to find the CIA want him dead (yet again), he does some sleuthing, reaches out to a “trust-worthy” contact at the agency, a meeting is arranged, the “asset” reappears, Bourne escapes by the skin of his teeth, he makes his way to an agency hotspot, there is a big shoot out, a big fight, everyone is hurt, Bourne disappears into the ether, cue Moby, the end. It is a formula that worked for Bournes 1 through 3, so why change it up, right? This was all well and good when the central mystery seemed to pan out, but now a hackneyed attempt at dragging in Bourne’s father and some convoluted jibber-jabber about Edward Snowden / Mark Zuckerberg-alike Aaron Kallor makes Jason Bourne seem all too late to the party. The plot, the characters and the threat seem way behind the rest of the world. It might be fun to watch Greengrass do his action thing, but the talky bits in-between make you want to just hit the snooze button.
There is plenty to enjoy about Jason Bourne, but there is also plenty to be despondent with. It is overly reliant on fan boy approval, and seeks to do very little in justifying one last outing for this beloved protagonist. There was once a time when Bourne threatened to dethrone James Bond and behead Ethan Hunt, but those two have since moved on, upped their game, leaving Bourne flapping in the wind. If this latest film had felt like a genuine attempt at Bourne throwing his hat back in the ring, the story would not doubt have been more engaging and to a much higher standard. Instead we get a tepid script sprinkled with glitter and wrapped in some outstanding action set pieces. Jason Bourne is far from the worst sequel of the year, but it is definitely one of the laziest.
Film Grade: C
Three interesting Making Ofs cover most aspects of the film’s creation. Most rewarding, as you might imagine, are the ones about stunts. Apprantly, get a thick ear by Matt Damon and he buys you champagne!
Special Features Grade: B
For the fact they made us wait 10 years, you’d think Greengrass and Damon might have a bit more to acmbition than they show here. Jason Bourne is fun for the eyes and ears, but no so easy on the brain.