Jason Bourne may look and feel like a sequel made with the same creative DNA that made the original trilogy so taut and thrilling, but the fifth entry into the once great spy franchise lacks an identity and a narrative purpose.
After the abysmal fourth film tried and failed to expand the universe without the franchise’s star and key director, the return and reuniting of Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon gave us reason to believe that our favourite amnesiac assassin might have something to say or a point to prove.
He doesn’t and this film has almost zero reason to exist. Except for making bank for Universal.
The (lack of) story places Jason in the back streets of Athens, fighting in bareknuckle fights to keep him sharp and out of trouble with the American government. Meanwhile, Nicky Parsons (a surprisingly woeful Julia Stiles) has gone rogue and is hacking the CIA in an attempt to release sensitive documents that just happen to have new information about Mr. Bourne. Tommy Lee Jones and Alicia Vikander (who is playing accent roulette) cotton on to Parsons’ attack, the camera shakes, computers and keyboards flash across our screens, and before we know it, someone from the CIA looks in shock at a monitor, saying: “that’s Jason Bourne.”
Cue: John Powell’s score.
Forget amnesia. This is déjà vu. We’ve seen and heard it all before. There’s a loose connection to Jason’s father being involved in the Treadstone program, thanks to some well-timed brand new flashbacks. There’s also a heavy-handed, underdeveloped and incredibly dumbed-down side plot about privacy and social media, but that’s about it. There’s absolutely nothing new or of worth here.
If your eyes can stomach Greengrass’ penchant for shaky-cam chaotic shooting, I am glad to report that the director hasn’t lost his touch with orchestrating kinetic action in frantic, crowded public settings. The adrenaline-pumping game of cat and mouse in Athens during a political riot is a thrilling and standout sequence that will please those who are unfazed by plotless films. The sniper showdown at the sequence’s end is an expertly crafted bit of tension. It’s a shame this couldn’t be replicated throughout.
Damon’s muscular physique and physicality hasn’t skipped a beat and he fares well when the stakes are high. Much has been reported about his lack of dialogue. It’s hard for the actor to say more than 40-50 lines when there’s literally nothing to talk about. This has nothing to do with his character’s forced reclusion from life. It’s a deliberate result of a script that lacked story.
“The Asset” who could have been played by anyone, yet was actually played by the exceptional Vincent Cassell, is a wasted antagonist for both character and actor.
Jason Bourne is another forgetful entry into an extremely disappointing and lacklustre 2016 blockbuster season. The action excites and entertains, but it’s all a blur of tedious recycled Bourne-isms for the majority of the runtime. After the excellent send off in Ultimatum, the Bourne franchise should have stayed off the grid.