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Jason Bourne Review: return to steady form

Jason Bourne – which is a stupid title whatever way you look at it – is a return to form for the Bourne franchise. Whilst The Bourne Legacy isn’t as bad as some claim it to be, this franchise is much better with Matt Damon as its lead and the mystery that comes wit David Webb/Jason Bourne.

After Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) obtains some new information about his past, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) comes out of hiding to take down his former employers. Unfortunately, Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and a relentless asset (Vincent Cassel) stand in his way.

Story: B-

The Bourne Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum all rotated around the mystery of who Jason Bourne really was, what he had done and who had done it to him. Before this instalment hit theatres the film’s producers stated that Jason Bourne would reference the effects of Edward Snowden and position Bourne in this new world that we live in. Unfortunately, they didn’t manage to make the real world influences feel natural or inherent to this particular story.

Half of the film focuses on the information Nicky steals from the CIA and hands over the Bourne and that is interesting … despite basically playing like every other Bourne film without offering anything new.

The second half of the film, which feels lifted from a different film, focuses on the CIA infiltrating a new social networking platform thus invading privacy. It never really intersects with Bourne’s story other than allowing the director to cut away from Matt Damon every now and again. It feels really forced in and wastes the immensely talented Riz Ahmed in a throwaway role as a Steve Jobs-type.

Having said that, Bourne fans will find Jason Bourne doing Bourne things because this script allows him to be that brooding and immensely talented agent. It plays to the franchise’s strengths. The only problem may be that it ONLY plays to the franchise’s strengths with new aspects to the story feeling like an afterthought.

Acting: B+

Everyone in this film is perfectly serviceable in his or her respective role. Vincent Cassel is fittingly strong and intimidating as the ever-present ant-Bourne in the film. Tommy Lee Jones brings his usual flair and drawl to the staple CIA character in this Bourne flick. Julia Stiles is intense and sophisticated as Nicky. But the standouts of the film are undoubtedly Matt Damon as Jason Bourne and Alicia Vikander as Heather Lee.

I was presently surprised and actually happy that someone other than Bourne took a lead role; Vikander’s Lee plays a major role in the story – very much taking the Joan Allen/Pam Landy role from the previous instalments – and it provides a good parallel to Bourne’s story.

Matt Damon’s Bourne rarely speaks in this movie, instead choosing to stare and mull, so when the film cuts to Lee its more frantic but just as calculated as the pensive Bourne is in his sequences.

There is nothing outstanding about the performances in this film and their doesn’t need to be.

Direction: B-

One of the biggest worries I had about Jason Bourne was the director Paul Greengrass. Funnily enough, Greengrass returning was also one of the reasons that I was excited about the film. In the end, Greengrass did what Greengrass does. The film is engrossingly gritty and tangible whilst the Vegas sequence is stunning in its scale and relentless tension. And that is the best aspect of Greengrass’ direction: the tension.

Having said that, the reason I was worried about Greengrass directing is back and in full force here: Greengrass cannot shoot hand-to-hand combat. The Bourne franchise is known for its’ fights and that is down to the great choreography and almost MacGyver-esque style. It is not down to the way Greengrass shoots it. Shooting a fight with a shaky hand and non-stop cuts shows a lack of understanding and Greengrass does it all the time here. When Cassel’s asset and Damon’s Bourne finally came face to face for a fight, we never really understand what’s going on, who’s winning or who is who at some points. Greengrass’ choice of cinematography really doesn’t to the stunts and fighting justice.

Overall, Jason Bourne will be seen as a return to steady form for the Bourne franchise … but that isn’t necessarily good. It is basically the same film as every other Damon-fronted Bourne film and when it does try something new, it feels forced and tacked on. Having said that, it is a perfectly serviceable instalment in the franchise.

Final Score: B


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