Directed by Paul Greengrass, starring Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles and Riz Ahmed. Following the previous CIA programme Treadstone, Nicky Parsons has hacked the CIA and stolen classified documents from their new programme with the intend to upload them for the public, she then finds Bourne to bring him back into the world.
Jason Bourne has been a frequent visitor to my house for years now, the first three films are a family favourite, effortlessly cool, highly intelligent and with some really classic moments. “Get some rest Pam, you look tired” Bourne says on the phone to an unsuspecting Pam who is in the adjacent building. The Bourne series also defined a new style of close combat fighting between two highly trained assassins, one particular fight scene involving the use of a pen as a weapon comes to mind. This fast-paced style of fighting, using any and all objects in the immediate vicinity, not only defined Bourne but also influenced other outstanding films, such as Daniel Craig’s James Bond and the John Wick series amongst others.
When Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon decided to return to the series once more, there was excitement and anticipation for the upcoming Bourne film. Greengrass expressed great interest in exploring and developing a narrative in a post-Snowden world. A very exciting prospect at the time; however, Greengrass took far too long writing and developing the film. The 90’s or maybe early 2000’s would perhaps be a more suitable time period for Greengrass’s vision, one where his idea would still have presented a level of intrigue and paranoia.
In 2016 we are all too aware of the government’s ability to supposedly hack phones, access the camera on your laptop and obtain personal information. The Netflix series, Black Mirror is the most appropriate example for demonstrating the paranoid relationship developing between ourselves and our technology. The level of explanation that Greengrass writes in the script is incredibly basic. For example, at a technology press conference, they unveil a new application that will allow the public to upload everything onto their servers, with a guaranteed safety protocol regarding people’s privacy. Though this is merely a stepping stone in order for the plot to progress onto a much large topic, with Greengrass cannily making the audience scream and shout in delight. Perhaps a comment on people who attend Apple press conferences and scream at anything, no matter how insignificant. As an audience member watching the film, however, you feel frustrated that no further explanation is provided.
So, Jason Bourne has been off the grid for almost 10 years, living in Greece and going from one fight club to another. He now remembers everything, well nearly everything, he seems to still be suffering from something that’s never quite explained. It is unclear whether Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass decided to rapidly age Bourne in order to show that a life consisting of fighting or being beaten depending on Bourne’s mood has a long term affect on the body, who would have thought. What is clear is that this is by far the slowest Jason Bourne we have ever seen, both physically and mentally. Remember that scene in the train station where he expertly navigates between cameras in order to try and protect Paddy Constantine’s reporter character. Those moments have been replaced by Bourne making really sloppy mistakes, such as handling dangerous material while standing next to a window for no particular reason, despite still being wanted.
However, it’s not all bad, at least in regards to Bourne, the opening scene in Greece is quite exciting to watch as is the final scene at the convention, in fact, more so. The dynamic between Matt Damon’s character and Vincent Cassel’s character known as ‘The Asset’ is quite exciting regarding the action sequences, even if not that original regarding the narrative.
Had this been a stand-alone film, where we had no knowledge of Bourne, then perhaps this would be a better film, but because we are aware of the true potential, this film never really goes beyond average, still fun in parts, though.
Finally, odd to have only two women in a film made in 2016, in amongst the multitude of male characters. Julia Stiles returns as Nicky, now a rogue underground hacker, they have attempted to give her new direction which involves forgetting everything she has been taught, including how to act apparently.
Alicia Vikander is quickly becoming a household name, she is a rising star but she is also an actress I am struggling to understand. Looking at her IMDB page I discover that I have seen more of her films than I first thought, but the one performance I know her most keenly from is ‘Ex Machina’ where she played Ava the A.I. The reason I mention this film in particular, is because I was constantly reminded of that performance whilst watching ‘Jason Bourne’. There is something quite robotic in her acting style, her eyes are very emotive but her jaw and mouth feel restricted. You gain a sense that she has intent and purpose with her eyes but is struggling to control the rest of her facial expression, almost as though it’s on the surface but has yet to break.
OVERALL ** A disappointingly average Bourne film, gone are the intelligent narratives and quick reactions from Bourne, replaced by an already dated script and seemingly old and sluggish Bourne. There are entertaining moments in this film, but it’s lost some of that flair that originally made the series so successful.
RECOMMENDATION – If you are really devoted to following the Bourne series then by all means, watch. I personally would much rather watch the first three films again.