Jason Bourne – A Review

The Bourne trilogy is quite simply one of my favorite movie trilogies in existence. There’s no denying the influence these films had on the action genre. It’s no coincidence in a post-Bourne era, we’re suddenly given a grittier series of James Bond movies or we start seeing more emphasis on close-quarter fight scenes in the Fast & Furious series. When director Paul Greengrass and star Matt Damon were announced to return to the series, you damn right I was absolutely pumped for their next Bourne outing, even if I felt a sequel to the trilogy wasn’t entirely necessary. But did this aptly-titled “Jason Bourne” entry in the franchise prove its necessity? Short answer: not really.

My short answer isn’t meant to imply I didn’t enjoy the movie. Despite all the mixed reviews you’ll see from actual professional critics, I still loved the relevant story and familiar action sequences this film delivered. Matt Damon back in the saddle as Jason Bourne is what everyone wanted, especially after seeing the exceedingly-underwhelming Bourne Legacy. Paul Greengrass behind the camera is what, well, most people wanted. At least those of us who are either used to or can tolerate his infamous “shaky cam” tactics. For me personally, I never really had an issue with the movement of the camera, and I didn’t in this flick either. It’s amazing what enthralling characters and plot can do to distract you from it, I suppose. Anyway, where we pick up with Bourne isn’t exactly what I had predicted. Damon’s subtle performance in the opening moments really helps us feel every ounce of torture Bourne is putting himself through. As the mystery unfolds and personal secrets to Bourne are revealed, he begins to unravel, albeit in his typical unsettlingly-calm manner, and of course nobody could have done this role but Damon, as we know from those first 3 films.

So Damon as Bourne was reliably great. Greengrass directing was reliably magnificent. It was also lovely to see Julia Stiles back as Nicky Parsons, although she could have delivered her lines in a less wooden fashion, but still a solid appearance regardless. But what about the new faces? Tommy Lee Jones plays a new/not-new CIA Director Robert Dewey. By new, I mean he’s new to the audience, but you catch on quickly he’s been employed by the CIA for decades, even having associations to plot points in the Bourne mythology, so we’re left asking ourselves, “why haven’t we seen or heard of this guy before?” But the question remains: does Jones deliver as the new Man in the Shadows, Brian Cox-esque Bourne villain? Of course! It’s friggin’ Tommy Lee Jones! Then we have Alicia Vikander, who is still on her upward trend in her career since Ex Machina, so get used to seeing more of her in blockbusters such as Bourne. She plays a CIA analyst Heather Lee, who is an honest-and-true patriot that worked towards her position as Dewey’s protege with the best of intentions. Any more details on her threaten to dive into spoilers, which I’m avoiding here, but Alicia turns in yet another memorable cinematic performance. And if you’re still unfamiliar with her, come back to read this later after you watch Ex Machina. That movie is exquisite sci-fi/psychological thriller material. Riz Ahmed also plays a Mark Zuckerberg-type of technology mogul, whose story isn’t entirely necessary to the movie, but that argument is offset by the fact that the movie itself isn’t entirely necessary to the original trilogy, so I didn’t mind his presence.

To expand on why I emphasize this movie not being necessary, it’s all in the plot. This movie delves more into Bourne’s personal life before he enlisted into the Treadstone project. We see mentions of his family and whatnot, but these aren’t necessarily questions I personally needed answered after the original trilogy, so Bourne’s story here didn’t really add much to the franchise’s overall mythos. Additionally, it was nice that they included many relevant ties to present-day debates about privacy versus security, as I am very much invested into that material in reality, but again, not entirely necessary to what the Bourne trilogy gave us. However, the car chase in the final act is absolutely captivating and breathtaking, as is the foot chase leading to a car chase that occurs early on in the film in Greece. I’d hope those action sequences will be recognized as iconic in 10 or so years time, because they were captured by Greengrass and coordinated by the stunt team perfectly. And like I said, I’m actually into the current debates about privacy and government leaks, so I was into it in the Bourne world. While discovering more about Bourne’s past didn’t strike me as a requirement to this franchise, I still was intrigued by getting those answers here.

The movie seems to end on both a closed and open note as well. We get the sense that this can sufficiently wrap up Bourne’s story while also give him a reason to return if Universal Studios feels like greenlighting a sequel. If I’m being honest though, should we get another Damon/Greengrass Bourne sequel, I’d see it opening night again. That’s just the level of intrigue and adoration I have for the Bourne trilogy, even still. While “Jason Bourne” wasn’t above any of the prior 3 Damon-starring Bourne movies in quality (but definitely above Bourne Legacy; poor Jeremy Renner) or even an imperative flick to the story, it still delivers enough in thrills and mystery to satisfy the summer moviegoing crowd.

Grade: B+

Need a really, really brief synopsis of this review? Check out my 10 Second Review of Jason Bourne below!

If you saw “Jason Bourne,” comment below with your thoughtsand let’s have a chat about it! Not only do I love talking movies, but I love talking Bourne.

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4 thoughts on “Jason Bourne – A Review

  1. I have NOT seen Jason Bourne (the movie…I’ve seen the character a time or two), but I’m still going to comment, dammit.
    Excellent review, without giving anything away.
    That said, what led you to center the review around the question “Was this movie a necessity?”
    It seems like that’s a question that could be fiercely debated on either side of the coin, for most movies. Even if we limit it to sequels, based on the implication of your review, I could still see strong arguments both for and against the necessity of Quantum of Solace, X-Men: Alpaca Lips, Matrix Revolutions, Spider-Man 3, A Good Day to Die Hard, xXx: State of the Union, Taken 2, etc. The list goes on and on.
    Not a criticism, by any means, but just curious, and wanting to understand the angle you’re looking at Jason Bourne (again, the movie… I don’t want to know what angle you’re sizing up Matt Damon).

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    1. There just wasn’t enough of a reason to revisit Bourne’s story. The first 3 movies were like a fluid conversation and this movie was basically a “oh, by the way…” that didn’t need to be said. Bourne himself really had no reason to jump back into things. Julia Stiles’ character said something along the lines of “you should check out this stuff I found about why you enlisted into the Treadstone program.” Bourne could’ve easily said “nah, I’m good” and walked off. There was no real concrete reason for the guy to swing back into (awesome) action, which really ends up translating to the entire movie not feeling necessary to the original trilogy.

      Same with Taken 2, xXx: State of the Union and some of the others you mentioned. X-Men: Apocalypse and Matrix Revolutions were stories that I felt established their need to be told within the movies themselves, especially the latter because they had to wrap up the dang trilogy.

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      1. Yes, I get that there wasn’t enough of a reason to revisit Bourne’s story, but my question is, why base the review around that question? And there isn’t a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer to that. It’s not a query that I pose, with me thinking I know how you ‘should’ answer, or with me implying that the review should not be written with that question–is this movie necessary [to the franchise]–as the driving force. I’m just curious why it IS the driving force.
        Approached from a different angle, did you go into the theatre thinking “All right. Let’s see if this is relevant.” ?

        Neither a criticism or a “gotcha” question. Just curious.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s the basis of my review because it’s practically my only criticism. I’m just trying to evenly play both pros and cons without fanboy’ing too hard. Additionally, Matt Damon specifically said he held off on doing another Bourne movie until he felt a story was relevant and good enough to the original trilogy. I should have included that in my review for context probably.

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