by Alan Yudman
Is there any franchise that is more reliable than the Bourne franchise? Especially the three films directed by Paul Greengrass, THE BOURNE SUPREMACY, THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM and now, JASON BOURNE.
You thought Greengrass and Matt Damon had wrapped up the storyline nicely at the end of ULTIMATUM? They did. Could have ended it there. Matter of fact, they did. The next Bourne movie was THE BOURNE LEGACY which neither Greengrass or Damon had anything to do with. It wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t Bourne. So I was eager to see the pair team up again and to see where it would go.
Jason Bourne (or David Webb) is living off the grid, making money as a bare knuckle brawler in Greece. But while he’s doing that Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) has been working for a hacker/leaker. She has discovered the CIA is running more black ops that are off the books. She finds info about Jason’s past to lure him back into a world he thought he had abandoned.
The rest of the movie plays out as you might expect. Bourne hunts. Bourne fights. Bourne uncovers. Car chases. Snipers. Panic. Amazing stunts and set pieces. Check all those boxes. He also has a new ally. Oscar winner Alicia Vikander is the head of the CIA’s cyber ops division. She initially wants what her boss, the CIA director (Tommy Lee Jones) wants. To find Bourne and take him out. But as she reads more and watches what her boss is doing, she devises another plan to bring Bourne back into the fold at the CIA.
Jones uses an operative known only as The Asset (Vincent Cassel). He is more than just a man doing what the bosses tell him to do. He want revenge on Bourne because the exposure of Treadstone and Black Briar got him captured and tortured. But Bourne and The Asset have a deeper history, one that I will leave a mystery so as not to spoil anything more.
There is also a plot line about CIA surveillance and use of tech companies to do their dirty work. It feels very current given concerns about privacy and the government’s desire to hack into some iPhones.
JASON BOURNE delivers exactly what you would expect. Damon is great, he steps right back into the character without a beat. Vikander is wonderful in everything she does (or at least everything I’ve seen her do). Jones is, well a force of nature. This is a well executed thriller that is nothing if not entertaining. That also is what makes it just a touch disappointing. No boundaries are pushed. No extreme twists or complex ideas. It feels a bit safe, even as Bourne and The Asset are involved in a car chase on the Las Vegas Strip. Safe is ok. Well done safe is better and this is exceptionally well done. But sometimes you want something challenging and on that count JASON BOURNE falls short.