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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Jason Bourne Review

Bourne, Again... and Again...

Jason Bourne has always been a serious and stoic character, rarely cracking anything that resembles a smile. But in the latest film, "Jason Bourne," he seems much more distant than before. Matt Damon, who returns as the titular character, looks like he longs to be elsewhere. Maybe he stopped making "Bourne" films because he was ready to move past them.

That's the other fundamental flaw with returning director Paul Greengrass' film; why does it exist? Greengrass directed the two sequels ("The Bourne Supremacy" and "The Bourne Ultimatum," Doug Liman directed "The Bourne Identity") but stayed away from the Jeremy Renner headlined "The Bourne Legacy." Most fans of this series cried afoul at the Renner flick, which makes me think "Jason Bourne" is here to eradicate the memory of the spinoff.

This time around Bourne (Damon) is lured out of hiding by Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), who is able to give Bourne some information about his past and the death of his father. He has become a bare knuckle fighting recluse but is instantly put back on the CIA's radar once he resurfaces. This time around Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) wants to bring Bourne down but CIA cyber analyst Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) tries to assure him that bringing him in alive would be more beneficial. Thrown into the mix is Vincent Cassel's "Asset," who always has his sniper rifle handy just in case he finally crosses paths with the elusive Bourne.     

Jones is an actor who has been working for so long and has now gone on autopilot. Greengrass must have called him and said "Just be yourself!" and then called action. When Dewey is told the CIA has been hacked, Dewey says, "How bad?" only in a way that Jones could. Vikander, our reigning Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner, is chilly as Heather. She sits behind her computer screens, desperately wanting to be on the chase but never given the chance.

So, we spend two hours watching the CIA on Bourne's tail. The frustrating element of "Jason Bourne" is how desperate it is to be relevant. The films in the original "Bourne" trilogy were above average action films because they were thrilling games of cat-and-mouse. "Jason Bourne" comes out nine years after the last Damon-Greengrass collaboration and has inserted itself into the tech generation. "Jason Bourne" is not about the chase as much anymore, it's about sitting behind a computer and sternly typing in coordinates until he is located. And yes, at times, that is just as boring as it sounds.

I don't want to take away from the fact that Greengrass certainly knows how to stage an action scene. The scene in Las Vegas that is shown in the trailer is something to behold (even when it starts to drag on). When Greengrass shoots in a wide-shot, we get to see what a master he is at crafting action and tension. When he gets up close, his signature shaky cam can become a bit chaotic and we have a hard time distinguishing who is doing what.

If the plan was to make sure "The Bourne Legacy" was not the last "Bourne" film released, then mission accomplished. It's disappointing if that was the sole objective here because "Jason Bourne" is missing the verve of the original three.

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