Movie Review: Jason Bourne

From director Paul Greengrass, the man who brought amnesic assassin Jason Bourne into prominence back in 2004 with The Bourne Supremacy, following the character's introduction in the 2002 hit The Bourne Identity, the latest exploits of super spy Bourne finds him on the run from both the CIA, and the overwhelming threat of retreading similar waters. With the aptly named Jason Bourne reeling another adventure out for the character, even with an experienced director and a well-versed actor like Matt Damon at its disposable, the film fails to hit its target in more than a few areas.

As ex-CIA assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) reemerges from the shadows once again in search of answers to his blurred past, new threats begin to intervene with his search as the CIA -- now led by Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) -- struggle to keep their most disruptive operative in the dark. With the aid of former CIA operative and close ally Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) at his side, Bourne must uncover a dark secret that threatens both his past and his future with the organization that once tried to help him. Hunted by both an assassin from his past (Vincent Cassel), now out for revenge, as well as a rookie CIA hacker (Alicia Vikander), Jason Bourne must once again enter a deadly game of cat-and-mouse in order to discover the truth behind his former self.         

Now, if that synopsis doesn't sound like every single Bourne movie we've gotten so far -- minus 2012's lackluster The Bourne Legacy, which focused less on Bourne and more on some scrappy pretender named Aaron Cross (Love you, Jeremy Renner) -- than you and I must be watching completely different films. What was marketed to be somewhat of a full-circle, conclusive chapter for the character created by author Robert Ludlum, ultimately manifested into a cut-and-paste, haphazardly-strung-together film that aimed to kick off yet another trilogy for the weary ex-assassin. Even with Bourne expert Paul Greengrass at its helm -- which ultimately may or may not have been the smartest move -- while Jason Bourne does offer up just what fans of the ass-kicking film franchise desired, it failed to present much else in terms of something new.

Anchored by what quickly becomes the same plot of his past three outings as Jason Bourne -- targeted by the CIA, drawn out of the shadows by a love interest, and soon tailed by a mercenary seemingly just as deadly as himself -- action star Matt Damon reels out another gracious performance as his silent-but-deadly badass settles in for another two hours of ass-kicking. One of the biggest flaws I found in this film, a film that had me convinced to be the culminating chapter of the Bourne series, was its disappointing -- and overall wasteful -- treatment of its main character. Mostly due to a clear-cut plot we've seen steadily reused throughout this franchise, leading man Damon is left going down similar alleyways and digging up familiar revelations instead of actually leading us to a true final answer to the question he's been asking for three films now. While that may be more the screenwriter's fault than Damon, it also leaves the actor delivering a overly dreary and emotionless performance as he returns to one of the best roles of his career. As the film nears its conclusion, with the audience on the edge of their seats waiting for a more impacting revelation than the one given, Damon's Bourne is left as disappointed and confused as the viewers. Still able to kick ass whenever necessary, Damon's performance is drowned out by a unfulfilling plot that goes nowhere.

Putting the film's plot missteps aside for a moment, the rest of the cast offered up enjoyable performances as they too trudged along through this missed opportunity of a film. From Tommy Lee Jones' cocky yet stern CIA director Robert Dewey to Riz Ahmed's decent performance as media mogul and ally to the CIA Aaron Kalloor, the Bourne franchise managed to continue its fading streak of employing slightly-menacing CIA officials and not-so-memorable side characters to combat its leading spy. While its female lead of Julia Stiles as hacker ally to Bourne, Nicky Parsons, is quickly overshadowed by newcomer Alicia Vikander as CIA operative Heather Lee, the latter actress' generally-riveting performance against Damon's mellow Bourne manages to aid the film in upping its artillery of notable actors. Still, the film's occasionally-memorable performances aren't enough to save it from other drowning mistakes.

While its action set pieces may still hold strong -- for the most part anyway -- as long as the badass spy Bourne can still use his fists to get whatever answers he wants, in the end, director Paul Greengrass' coveted return to the blockbuster franchise was ultimately a major letdown for anyone seeking any kind of resolution in the amnesic assassin's journey. While it may return to some of the favorable elements of the original Bourne trilogy, in both its direction and formula, Jason Bourne might be one of the most disappointing films to hit theaters this summer. Yes, while it may promise fans even more Bourne in the future, the film failed to retain any real plot development that made it worthwhile.

I gave this film a 6 out of 10, because even with its most brilliant elements at hand, this spy franchise took a major misstep in its hope that the same is always better, and anything too radical might turn fans away. Hell, even though it wouldn't sit too well with fans of the series, having old JB kick the bucket might have been more intuitive than just leaving him where he started. But then all we'd have is this guy.


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