Everyone’s favorite amnesiac assassin is back and this time, it’s personal. No, really it is personal. JASON BOURNE cuts deep into the titular character’s past, awakening some daddy issues and giving a much-needed injection of adrenaline to the franchise’s fifth installment after the very forgettable Bourne Legacy (sorry, Jeremy Renner).
Set several years after the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, we see that Bourne (Matt Damon) is wandering the world and living his life as a street fighter — because “forgetful assassin” doesn’t really read well on a resume. Meanwhile, his homegirl Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) is doing her hacking thing in Iceland and digs up some dirt on a new and more duplicitous program similar to Treadstone, which made Bourne into a killing machine. She also discovers information about Bourne (né David Webb) and his father that she thinks he should know. They reunite in the perfect place for friends to reunite: a massive, molotov cocktail-filled political protest in Greece.
But while reconnecting, CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and cyber-savvy agent Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) have discovered that Nicky has hacked into their system (“It’s worse than Snowden,” an agent says) and that she is connected to Bourne. Considering Bourne is the CIA’s big white whale, Dewey wants him dead and Nicky basically led them to him (nice job, Nicky). While Lee thinks they should catch Bourne like a Pokemon and recondition him, Dewey just wants him dead — but doesn’t say it so directly. That said, he solicits the help of another assassin known as the “Asset” (Vincent Cassel) — who may or may not have a connection to Bourne — to take him out. All of this and more is efficiently established in the first 10-15 minutes which leaves room for a pulse-racing, shaky cam thrill ride that gives a dizzying rush unlike any other action flick of the summer.
There hasn’t been much of a marketing push or a hype for Jason Bourne in the dates leading up to the movie’s release. Besides bus stop ads and billboards, the biggest publicity push for the movie was Lena Dunham’s concerns about the guns on the posters. This could have been for one of two reasons: 1.) the movie is so awesome that Universal figures that the Bourne brand and Damon’s face would sell it with no problem or 2.) the studio is insecure and is holding back promotional push because they don’t think the movie will do well. The studio can rest easy because they deserve a pat on the back for this one.
If you haven’t noticed already, the landscape of summer blockbusters and action flicks has left audiences (mainly me) unimpressed and bored, but this reunion of Damon and director Paul Greengrass (who directed Bourne Supremacy and Bourne Ultimatum) was exactly what this franchise needed to make it exciting again. Together, they serve as two paddles of a defibrillator to jolt some life back into the series which nearly died with Legacy (again, sorry Renner).
The story of Bourne’s relationship with his father and his connection with Treadstone adds a new layer to the narrative, making him an even more messed up and complex character — and he needed that. Otherwise, we are just going through the same ol’ motions of Bourne killing dudes and asking “Who am I?! Who am I?!” as if he is Jean Valjean. As entertaining as that is, there’s only so much you can take of him using unlikely weapons (remember when he fought that one dude with a book in Ultimatum?) to slay a gaggle of faceless henchmen.
Damon steps back into the shoes of Bourne after nine years without missing a beat and Stiles as Parsons does the same. Academy Award-winning Vikander brilliantly manages to convey conflict through the emotionless face of agent Lee while rocking a CIA-style pantsuit. And as much as I miss Pam Landy, Jones as crotchety CIA director Dewey was a delight. He’s basically the stubborn man that has been at his job for 50 years who wants everything to be the same and isn’t open to new ideas. The casting couldn’t be any more perfect.
Each installment of the Bourne franchise has plenty of car chases, bone-breaking fight scenes, sniper-shooting-in-a-crowd moments, intense texting, attempts at negotiating via a phone call, and lots of aggressive speed-walking with intent through a hallway and/or train station. Jason Bourne has all of the above – and takes those things to another level of WTF-ery. The final Fast and Furious-worthy car chase scene through the streets of Las Vegas is ridiculously aggressive and extreme while the bedlam of a riot scene in the beginning was so insanely well-staged that it was absolutely gorgeous.
Despite losing its footing during some moments in the final act (particularly with the way they handled the final confrontations of the bad guys), Jason Bourne is the revitalization to a franchise that you didn’t know you wanted. There are some action franchises that you would want to end at certain point, but with Bourne, you just want to keep watching him try to put his life together. You just can’t help but root for the guy — no matter how many people he’s killed.
Dino-Ray Ramos watches too much TV, enjoys reality singing competitions and laughs inappropriately during dramatic films. He’s a fan of comedy, podcasts, and comedy podcasts. He’s a reformed comic book geek and thinks “The Goonies” is the best movie of all time. When he isn’t stuffing his face with a burrito, he’s thinking about his next trip to Disneyland.
Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer