Movie Review

Jason Bourne

You know his name
Jason Bourne Movie Poster

US Release Date: 07-29-2016

Directed by: Paul Greengrass


  • Matt Damon
  • Jason Bourne
  • Tommy Lee Jones
  • CIA Director Robert Dewey
  • Alicia Vikander
  • Heather Lee
  • Vincent Cassel
  • Asset
  • Julia Stiles
  • Nicky Parsons
  • Riz Ahmed
  • Aaron Kalloor
  • Ato Essandoh
  • Craig Jeffers
  • Scott Shepherd
  • Director NI Edwin Russell
  • Bill Camp
  • Malcolm Smith
  • Vinzenz Kiefer
  • Christian Dassault
  • Stephen Kunken
  • Baumen
Average Stars:
Reviewed on: July 29th, 2016
Matt Damon and Julia Stiles in Jason Bourne

Matt Damon and Julia Stiles in Jason Bourne

Matt Damon returns as the enigmatic Jason Bourne, who has been living off the grid for years. When we meet him here he is an underground fighter, making cash and moving on to the next knuckle buster. The past suddenly comes back when Bourne spots Nicky Parsons, (Julia Stiles), the only other character to appear in all of Damon's Bourne films, in the crowd watching one of his fights. She leaves a message in his gym bag to meet her in a public square during a protest to supposedly give them cover for their meeting. She has something to tell, and give, him.

Thus starts Bourne's journey back into action but it is also one of the biggest plot holes in the entire film. How in all the world did Nicky find him. Perhaps they somehow stayed in contact but the film never states that and as both are hiding from the government, they would each be difficult to find. Now, with that said, why did Nicky not just talk to Bourne after the fight, that is taking place in a secluded location, away from prying eyes? They see each other. She knows which bag is his. No, this girl, who has been successfully on the lam for years, decides instead to have him meet her in a very public place where lots of cameras are recording the protest.

Sure, it is all a set up for the first big action sequence but once I realized the stupidity of this decision, I was taken out of the fantasy. Granted, the following sequence is exciting and tense, and a bit predictable, but it all could have been avoided had these secret agents stayed in the shadows they are trained to hide in. Now motivated by Nicky's information, Bourne suddenly remembers everything. This includes the death of his father and the man who killed him. This takes Bourne from Greece to Germany to England and finally to Las Vegas for the action packed climax.

Alicia Vikander plays CIA technology officer Heather Lee, who is helping to track Bourne and also is a huge question mark. One minute we think she is helping Bourne and the next she acts like his enemy. She is working under CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) who has his hands full not only in trying to find Bourne but also with a deal he has with a man who does not want the government having access to his new internet surfing software. Yeah, the government vs privacy issue is a side plot and Edward Snowden's name gets dropped a couple of times.

Greengrass uses shaky camera shots and lots and lots of cuts to create tense action scenes. Sometimes it works and sometimes it feels a bit disorienting. It is probably an easy way to film fight scenes as the actors do not have to learn too much choreography at a time. It makes the action scenes frenetic and adrenaline inducing but they also loses some authenticity in the process.

One of the biggest pieces of intrigue to the Jason Bourne character was that we knew so little about him. We only discovered the bits and pieces of his dangerous life as he did. Here he learns his real name and how he came to join the Treadstone project. The mystique is disappearing, leaving an unhappy 40 something year old loner with a talent for killing. The mystery of Bourne was one of the best reasons to spend time with him. With the mask removed, he is a less interesting character. He should have discovered that he had a wife and child somewhere that thinks he is long dead. At least that would have left him, and us, with something to look forward to and perhaps, just perhaps, a possible happy ending for the man whose name is not actually Jason Bourne.

Reviewed on: July 31st, 2016
Matt Damon in Jason Bourne.

Matt Damon in Jason Bourne.

I agree that the choice of Nicky's place to meet is a bit silly, especially since it could have been explained away by a couple of lines of dialogue, but it didn't bother me as much as it seemed to bother Eric. As he also said, it sets off the film's first big action sequence and because of that I'm willing to forgive the contrivance of the location. A bigger plot hole to me is that the CIA, in the form of Tommy Lee Jones as Director Dewey, is trying to get greater access to people's privacy online, but based on the magic Alicia Vikander is able to perform while playing Heather Lee, it would seem there already isn't anything the government can't do. I mean, when you can "hack" into a phone and use it to delete files on a laptop in the same room (as if proximity somehow makes it easier), you've already left the world of technology behind and are now in the realm of voodoo. What further access could the government need when they can perform that kind of miracle?

Despite the shaky plot points, this movie does still manage to entertain, albeit in a mostly mindless way. Director Greengrass, who has directed all but the first Matt Damon Bourne films, has made the series his own, employing a very visceral style of filmmaking that makes the fight scenes very intense and personal. Unlike Eric, I think the handheld, shaky camera makes the action seem more authentic, not less. You almost feel the punches and the crunches of the car chases. Granted, there's nothing in this movie that matches his best work in the earlier Bourne films, in part because we've seen this before in those earlier Bourne films, but it still makes for exciting filmmaking.

Damon has also grown into the part. Upon recently rewatching his original Bourne film, I was struck by how babyfaced he looked then. Now, he's still young enough to make the action seem believable, but old enough to bring a world weary, gravitas to the part. With the way this story is written, Damon flexes his physical muscles much more than his acting muscles as he's mainly just required to look stoic and kick ass.

And that is an even bigger problem to me than the plot holes. The stories in this series are repetitive and they need to mix things up if they're going to make another one. All of the films tend to be, Bourne discovering and destroying a CIA operation with a codename like Treadstone, Black Briar, or Iron Hand. He has to confront someone high up in the CIA, usually someone connected to his past, played by a well known character actor like Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, Scott Glenn, or Tommy Lee Jones. Along the way Bourne will learn something about his past and receive help from a female ally. Following 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum, Damon said he was done with the character because he felt Bourne's story had been told and there was nothing left to learn about him. This movie seems to confirm that statement.

The ending sets up the possibility for another sequel. If it should get made, and I'll willing go see it if it does, I hope they mix things up a bit more. Keep Bourne as the same character, but put him in new situations. The first couple of Bourne films felt fresh and new. The James Bond series seemed so shaken by them that they rebooted into what felt like a copy of Bourne. They need to try and recapture some of that original freshness. Without that, this movie still has enough action and adventure along with some heavy duty talent in front of and behind the camera to make it entertaining, but it's no longer unique.

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