Jason Bourne (2016)
PG-13 / 123 min
Action / Thriller
Starring: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander
Director: Paul Greengrass
Everyone’s favorite misguided CIA operative is back and he’s looking for more answers. Jason Bourne has been away from the game for a while now, almost ten years. The CIA wants him back in the force, but Bourne has other plans. He’s moved on and he isn’t going to make it easy for the CIA to bring him in. Director Paul Greengrass brings the dormant hero back to the big screen in his plainly titled summer thriller Jason Bourne, a film that sticks to its guns and packs a punch.
Matt Damon is back and fits comfortably back into the role of the blank-slate Jason Bourne. It’s been a while since we’ve seen him in the role. He’s older now and has a grittier look, but he’s still the same guy, looking for answers. He’s laying low…keeping a low profile everywhere he goes, but this doesn’t last long when CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) demands that he’s brought back into the light. Aiding him in the hunt, Dewey enlists the help of fresh-faced and capable hacker Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) who’s pretty confident that she has what it takes to bring in the elusive weapon that is Jason Bourne. Coincidently the CIA aren’t the only ones interested in Bourne’s whereabouts. A familiar face to Bourne fans, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), is also looking to meet up with Bourne with the interest of handing over a bunch of top-secret files that could put the CIA, and its operatives, at odds.
The movie’s central plot is very much a game of cat-and-mouse. Jason Bourne is on a mission looking for answers in his past while the CIA is constantly on his tail trying to catch him with the upper hand. The action is very much by the books and should be familiar to anyone who has seen a Bourne film, but that doesn’t take away from the movie’s thrills. The action sequences are tightly planned out and were very fun to watch come together, especially the bits in Vegas and Germany. Director Dewey entrusts the help of a certain Asset, played by Vincent Cassel, who has a history with Bourne and wants nothing more than to be the guy that takes him out. There’s nothing overtly special about Cassel’s rough and tough performance, but he still managed to be one of my favorite parts of the film.
There aren’t too many breaks to be had in the roller coaster ride that is Jason Bourne’s action, but there are some pauses in between the dust that attempt to establish character and dive deeper into more complex issues in today’s modern society. The character building? Nothing to really write home about. We get some backstory behind Bourne’s father, the main drive behind his question-seeking, but it doesn’t really go deeper than what most fans already know. There’s some new answers brought to the table, but nothing earth-shattering. On the other hand, Greengrass pokes at ideas like internet privacy and hacking culture, even referencing guys like Snowden, in an attempt to bring relevance to the film. I admire these ideas, but nothing is really done with them. They’re constantly brought up but then quickly forgotten about in the presence of guns and bullets. Jason Bourne wants to say more, but instead lets its self-settle into familiarity, which is a tad disappointing given the presence of such ideas.
As far as performance go, this is Matt Damon’s movie and his only. There isn’t much to Bourne’s character to begin with, as he’s painted with a blank slate, but Damon still does a bang-up job at portraying the figure. Although Damon steals the light, Alicia Vikander brings a much welcomed fresh face to the table. She’s a strong-willed and very intelligent hacker that is working to bring a change to the CIA. As the film runs deeper, Bourne and Lee’s relationship gets a lot more interesting as the two work together to bring down the CIA’s internalized sinister dealings.
Despite it’s by the book plotting and inability to tap deeper into some of the more relevant issues of today, Jason Bourne still manages to provide exhilarating fun. It was fun seeing Matt Damon slip back into one of his iconic roles, even though nothing has really changed about the character this time around. I would have liked for Greengrass to have gone deeper than the surface level on things like Snowden and internet privacy, but who knows where that story could have gone. The movie sticks to what it does best, which works out in the end.