Jason Bourne Movie Review
Jason Bourne is back for a new adventure that feels eerily similar to his previous ones. After nearly ten years away, director Paul Greengrass and star Matt Damon return to the highly respected franchise--which features two of the best action movies put to screen--and the result is a high-octane but somewhat dumb and certainly unoriginal production that fails to live up to its predecessors.
After The Bourne Ultimatum ended with Jason Bourne regaining his memory--or at least his origins--and the CIA presumably giving up on their hunt, Greengrass and crew essentially wiped their hands and called things good. But money and popular demand begged to differ, so we have Jason Bourne, a movie that brings the titular badass back into the fold to do what he does best: kick ass and prove the CIA wrong. Again.
After the last two movies set an extremely high bar for intense action and quality storytelling, driven by Bourne’s struggles to regain his lost memories, Jason Bourne is shockingly redundant--The Bourne Redundancy, as people smarter than I have dubbed it--opting for a story that regurgitates a plot the franchise has already done to death (and better), with the CIA deciding to pursue Bourne once again for a crime he didn’t commit. This time, it’s Tommy Lee Jones stepping into the role last played by David Strathairn and Alicia Vikander taking over Joan Allen’s “ambitious but compassionate” character. They go through the motions, making the exact same mistakes their predecessors have, with the result being exactly what you’d expect.
To make matters worse, Jason Bourne feels more political than previous entries, with the addition of a half-baked story about a Facebook- or Apple-esque company and the privacy issues their platform of apps has created.
The movie also features plenty of stupid decisions by its characters. Julia Stiles kicks things off with an incredibly stupid series of moves that sets the movie in motion (we also get treated to some hacker saying “Corrupt their database with SQL,” a phrase that I’m certain no hacker would ever, ever say). Vikander’s character makes a lot of questionable decisions as well, though the film at least attempts to explain why she does what she does (but when you think about it in hindsight, her entire mission doesn’t make a lot of sense). Jones’ character is arguably the dumbest of them all, a senior CIA official who seems to go out of his way to expose his agency’s top-secret projects. For what it’s worth, Bourne himself plays things pretty smart, though the movie fails to exude the feeling that the guy always has a plan the way the previous films did.
So far, this review has been pretty scathing, but in truth, Jason Bourne is not a bad movie. It’s just a disappointing one. It’s dumber than the previous entries, but it’s still relatively well written compared to most franchise action movies. The A-grade cast helps elevate the material as well. And while it’s frustrating to see Bourne dealing with the exact same crisis again--why not take the story in a different direction?--it’s fun to see him back on the big screen.
Just as importantly, the action is still solid. While Jason Bourne’s action scenes aren’t quite as riveting as those seen in the last couple movies (note, I am purposefully ignoring the ill-conceived The Bourne Legacy), Paul Greengrass still knows how to deliver the goods. Jason Bourne is fast-paced and intense from the first minute to the last, with several well-organized (though still redundant) action sequences spread throughout the film. Despite the film’s shortcomings, it’s still one of the better action movies of the year.
Jason Bourne isn’t bad. But it is a disappointment, a movie that fails to live up to the high bar set by its predecessors or even establish why it exists in the first place (seriously, at least try to be original!). Nonetheless, it’s still a better movie than many you’ll see this year, and certainly boasts a few of the year’s more exciting action sequences.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.