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Jason Bourne – The Asset That Won’t Go Down (Movie Review)

JBN_Adv1Sheet2_RGB_0414_1One of the main questions going into Jason Bourne was not in regards to the story, as these films largely fall into a template at this point. No, the question to ask is what random tool would Matt Damon’s amnesiac/super would spy use to beat down his challengers. There is an answer to that question and more in this follow-up to 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum, which reunites Damon with director Paul Greengrass. The series may have shifted to a new character the last time around, but for those who wanted more of the character originated in novel form by Robert Ludlum, this film delivers just that.

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Much like Ultimatum, Jason Bourne takes a lot of cues from the first sequel, The Bourne Supremacy, in an effort to build another story about a former assassin living off the grid. This series now exists in a post-Snowden world, though Greengrass and co-writer/editor Christopher Rouse seem fairly unconcerned with the actual politics of today and more or less use the modern setting as flavoring to provide a structure for this globetrotting action flick. That said, the film does feature Bourne being pulled back into action due to a hack into the CIA by Julia Stiles’ Nicky Parsons.

It would seem that an inherent problem with the Bourne franchise, following the original film, is how to keep creating storylines that add something new to this series. The solution this time around is to peel back even more layers concerning Bourne (or rather, David Webb) and his past, but that takes away a lot of the mystique and relatable qualities found in the original film. Weirdly enough, the more we learn about who Bourne once was, the less Damon really has to say.

Franka Potente’s Marie was a character who allowed Bourne to open up a bit and show off some hints of charm (despite being a cold-blooded killer). After taking her out in the sequel, it seemed to come down to Joan Allen’s Pamela Landy character, in an effort to find a couple fun lines. Jason Bourne is not concerned with one-liners or quips. Save for some of the inherent humor that comes with Tommy Lee Jones’ CIA Director character, this film functions more like a well-oiled machine than anything.

Jason Bourne (2016)

While having a plot that sheds Bourne of much humanity in the form of dialogue and doing a little too-much full-circle connection for the character is going a bit too far, there is still plenty to enjoy. From an action standpoint, while many have since copied the Greengrass style, the director is still the best at making his shaky-cam abilities feel quite welcome. The action is chaotic, but discernable and leads to some terrific chases and fights. Perhaps not enough to outdo the final chase in Supremacy or the parkour/rooftop/fist fight in Ultimatum, but there is plenty of action to satisfy.

Additionally, many must be just as entertained as I am by the control room scenes, which feature various character actors and skilled performers speaking in analytical dialogue with concern for finding Bourne, sending out teams and performing all kinds of surveillance work. In addition to Jones, the film also adds Alicia Vikander as the one CIA agent with actual doubts concerning whether or not Bourne is a bad guy. Vincent Cassel also joins the cast as the latest assassin to go after Bourne, joining the ranks of others from the past, including Clive Owen, Edgar Ramirez and Karl Urban.

The propulsive score by a returning John Powell and new addition David Buckley continues to provide the film with the sort of energy it needs to always feel engaging, whether watching Damon in action or being in the control room, zipping to different computer screens and security footage shots. You also have the locations, which include Athens, Berlin, London and Las Vegas. Each provides a unique atmosphere, while fitting in the world of a spy series. Of course, unlike James Bond, there’s not even a hint of enjoyment from Bourne.

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Returning for the fourth time, Damon does not seem to have lost a step, aside from a smile. The physicality is important and there’s no denying the work done to show off that aspect, but I continue to appreciate the other aspects of this performance. Damon never got enough credit for what he brought to Bourne’s stoic persona. Greengrass wisely understands how less can be more and watching Bourne react and go through actions without speaking much is all you really need, when it comes to his stripped down approach to these films. It plays well here again and while some of the dialogue may feel stilted early on, it fits to have Bourne be as involved as he wants to be in conversations and not be speaking to himself.

Jason Bourne is everything you’ve come to expect in a Bourne film for better or worse. It loses out on mixing things up all that much in the way The Bourne Legacy tried and failed to do effectively, but does find a game Damon returning to continue showing off his action skills. Greengrass and Damon certainly didn’t have to come back as they are doing well for themselves, but seeing another go-round in this universe is fun for the fans that want a straight-ahead action film. It may be bogged down a bit in adding to the series’ continuity, but the film series’ propulsive spirit remains intact.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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