Review: JASON BOURNE (2016)

JASON BOURNE is an action movie without the smirking eagerness of THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS franchise and an espionage movie without the jolting charm of the Bond pictures. It is well-crafted from a technical standpoint, with director Paul Greengrass and cinematographer Barry Ackroyd keeping things in a constant state of motion. And it doesn’t overreach, which is a point undermined by the fact that it doesn’t really reach at all. The dialogue isn’t so much comprised of meaning but instructions and expository observations, with characters telling the audience where so-and-so is and what so-and-so is going to do next and when so-and-so will arrive at such-and-such a place.

The most notable so-and-so is obviously the titular character, played by Matt Damon. The former superspy is in hiding, but his former Treadstone contact Nicky (Julia Stiles) tracks him down to reveal the findings of a hacker group. The activity has alerted the CIA, which in turn springs cybersecurity head Heather (Alicia Vikander) and the agency director (Tommy Lee Jones) into action to find Bourne. There’s also some business with the CEO of a social media giant (Riz Ahmed), who is fending off the CIA’s requests to use his service for surveillance purposes.

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While JASON BOURNE is at least semi-topical with its concerns about privacy in the modern age, there’s little refinement or art to how the subject is approached. Positions are sketched out in black and white, even when something critical is revealed about Bourne’s past. All the while, the characters are stone-faced. Part of this could be read as commentary, with hints of how government intelligence agencies harvest machines incapable of emotion. But this is mostly a matter of design, with much of JASON BOURNE running at the same tempo with the same score and the same action apparatus.

Sometimes, Greengrass flirts with something better – even something lavish. The closing chase-and-fight between Bourne and Vincent Cassel’s Asset features a smash into a renowned Vegas casino. Before anything noteworthy happens amid the sea of slot machines and distressed gamblers, the hero and villain bail to a nondescript locale to hash it out. Lest you think JASON BOURNE features anything that borders on actual “fun,” Greengrass pulls back from the ledge and back into the office. Vikander’s range is unexploited as a result, while Jones scowls all over the wallpaper. As for Damon, it is nice to have his character back in the swing of things. It’s just too bad so-and-so is so damn dull.

7 thoughts on “Review: JASON BOURNE (2016)

  1. The best Jason Bourne movies were the first 3. This is one of the best franchises for the past 17 years. JB 1 was an unexpected international success! Now, the issue with sequels rely on the screenwriter. Keeping the storyline attached to the core brand of the franchise is usually one of the most difficult thing to do. If not done well the franchise vanishes. I think for the first 3 JB movies, the storyline maintained the audience connected. The issue with huge budgets to keep the franchise going is not the most important thing. As an example, two of the most recognizable franchises of the 80’s (Rocky and The Karate Kid) were directed by John Avildsen and both had relative small budgets and unknown actors. But even today 30 years later, fans are still visiting the filming sites of KK1 in San Fernando Valley, posting in Youtube etc… I think for JB series, they tried something news with a different actor (Jeremy B.) and did not connected well. Then they tried JB with Matt D. but at that point the audience had high expectations. The movie did not have the same “attractiveness”, the fight scenes – a classic signature of the franchise – were predictable and the final scene in LV strip, very good for any action movie but not for JB ending of a 4th instalment with Matt D.

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  3. Couldn’t agree with you more. My wife and I had to laugh at the climactic scene where Bourne and Asset crash through the Las Vegas casino and end up racing down the strip. Living in Las Vegas, I can tell you that I have only seen the Strip empty enough to speed down it once, and that would be 8 am on a Sunday morning.

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