REVIEWS

Review: 'Jason Bourne' Returns Without Creativity, Excitement or Cool

by
July 29, 2016

Jason Bourne Review

At least Matt Damon is back, right? That may be a common sentiment from anyone who followed along with the Bourne franchise. The first trilogy of films – The Bourne Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum – make up an impressively intense series of espionage thrillers with Damon's eponymous character riding high in the lead seat. With The Bourne Legacy, Damon chose not to return, Jeremy Renner took his place, and the stale, lackluster adventure that time around made it seem like the franchise's shining moments were long behind it. It's now 14 years since the initial entry, and though Jason Bourne sees Damon returning for his fourth outing as the rogue super-spy the bloom hasn't quite grown back on the rose leaving us with a dulled, run-of-the-mill version of a series that once actually brushed against the limits of cool cinema.

You don't have to be following closely with the series to know where Jason Bourne finds himself at the beginning of this film. He's completely off the grid spending his days in Greece wiping the floor with opponents in underground fighting rings and generally coping with incessant nightmares and PTSD. It's a luxurious retirement for anyone who spent their better years trekking the globe and taking out nefarious, foreign threats with excessive force. But those days of knocking stooges cold with one punch are about to come to an end for Bourne.

Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), the former CIA tech who went underground to help Bourne escape appearing in all three of the original films, has just hacked into the database at Langley, and she's come away with all the information Bourne needs about Treadstone, the program with which he was once involved. Naturally, the CIA notices the hack, begins tracking Parsons' movements towards Bourne, and unleashes a ruthless agent (Vincent Cassel) to take him out once and for all. If you have any problems keeping track of it all just take a look at the four, previous films for reference at any time – they'll help you catch up.

Jason Bourne Review

That's the chief concern going into Jason Bourne. The franchise, for all of its freshness as far as spy films go, for all of its efficiency when it comes to story progression and action, has a very tried and true structure that each film seems to follow to the letter. As if there were a checklist of requirements to make a Bourne film, screenwriters Christopher Rouse and Paul Greengrass, both first-time writers for this franchise, don't deviate from the familiar plan of action one bit leaving the audience with an endless barrage of computer monitors, foreign cities, and serious faces.

Bourne himself has nothing different to do from his previous adventures around the world, and his never-ending quest for information about his past seems to keep rolling around again and again. It wouldn't be such a problem if there were any, fresh ideas regarding either side of the morality coin. The CIA is still run by old, white men in suits who dispatch assets and give kill orders at the drop of a hat. This time around the powers in charge are personified by Tommy Lee Jones with Alicia Vikander playing the agent in charge of cyberterrorism who may represent the only gray-area character in the film. Neither character is written with any depth nor originality, though, and you sit back waiting for the film to progress to the precise points where you know it's headed.

You do the same with the lead character, too, you're impatience with Bourne growing every time you're forced to watch him pensively stare off into the distance. Bourne appears to only have two speeds this time around, and, unfortunately, neither are adequately exciting or suitably memorable. Instead we're left with the general brooding we've encountered in three, previous film and an utter lack of intensity. It's not just that Matt Damon looks bored here. Bourne himself looks bored half the time to the point you expect him to drop an "I'm too old for this shit" line or some variation.

Jason Bourne Review

It's even more of a shame knowing Greengrass, whose direction of Supremacy and Ultimatum made them some of the most genuinely suspenseful actioners of this century, is back at the helm. For the most part, the direction in Jason Bourne and the action found within are on par with what you'd expect. Yes, the director's perpetual movement of the camera makes the action proceedings all the more difficult to follow, but it's never a confusing image. The director has a keen eye for filming chase sequences, and a climactic chase through the bright streets of Las Vegas almost reaches the action heights established elsewhere in the series. What that sequence provides is too little and too late, though.

It doesn't help matters that Christopher Rouse, Greengrass' co-writer here, takes on the role of editor, as well, a task he's had on all of Greengrass' films since Supremacy. The editing is frantic, often frustratingly so, and no amount of speed in Rouse's cutting can deliver the necessary momentum needed for a movie like Jason Bourne to succeed in execution.

None of the acting delivers anything to impress, either. Matt Damon sleepwalks through Bourne's internal conflicts, and Jones and Vikander take on thankless roles with blasé performances. Vincent Cassel fills the international-star-playing-a-sadistic-hitman prerequisite with a total lack of edge. Riz Ahmed rounds out the supporting cast as the founder of Deep Dream, a social networking tool the CIA may or may not be using to spy on citizens, and his performance is nearly as dull as that entire subplot.

Save for the handful of effective chases Greengrass pulls out there isn't much that doesn't come across as dull or tired in Jason Bourne. With Damon returning to the role that made him an international star you would expect a film that delivers the promised goods. You would think his, as well as Greengrass' return, to the Bourne franchise would mark a new beginning for a series that was once held in such high regard for action fans. Instead the film offers little more than bland, familiar structuring peppered with unremarkable action beats, the last thing you would expect from this team. Jason Bourne isn't the revitalization anyone had hoped for this franchise, and you begin to wonder if the character might've been best left out in the cold.

Jeremy's Rating: 2 out of 5
Follow Jeremy on Twitter - @JeremyKKirk

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  • I was highly enthusiastic when they announced that Matt Damon was returning to the franchise, along with his favorite director Greenglass. Especially after the horrible Legacy. Then, I watched the trailer, and was left bewildered. I knew it will never catch up the amazing trilogy that redefined the genre, but was still hoping that it would be good enough to be a memorable sequel that will maybe grow on me on repeated watching. Now, I am reading reviews here and there that contradicts my hope on this franchise. Maybe it is time to leave the table. there is no food left.
    • Bo
      Spectre was a piece of dung, so you're correct there, tarek. However, are you really going to take these reviews seriously? Especially on the internet web film sites? I'm highly suspicious of them as they all seem to be taking the same angle on their dislike of the film; as if they decided ahead of time. I don't know but it's hard to take today's critics with more than a grain of salt. Just today, in the L.A. Times, their long time critic, Turan, who've I have read for many years gave it a rave review. And somehow his writing of the film just seemed to me to be a more intelligent and perceptive review rather than a 'jumping on the bandwagon' with the rest of the troops bashing of this movie. I don't know, but I find this collective reviewing to be more and more in vogue these days; certainly much more than in the days of really talented and smart critics like Pauline Kael, John Simon, etc. Each had their own opinion whether they liked or disliked a film and it was not the same opinion stated in the same manner as I find today with many of these younger, especially internet reviewers. Just a thought on my part. I'll see this Bourne thing myself whenever and see for myself. I must say when they first announced it I thought they had their work cut out for them and was a bit apprehensive that they would be able to pull it off. Maybe the collective reviewing I'm finding on this movie is right. I don't know. The lady at The Daily Beast gave it a positive and intelligent review also and her rendering of her views were not done in the same manner as Turan's positive review...so I like that aspect of it. Just suspicious of this 'collective agreement' thing going on today among reviewers stated in the same manner if if one person wrote them all...weird. Anyway...you seem much too wise to take these negative reviews with any kind of truth to whether the movie is any good or not to make a decision without seeing for yourself. I would hope...lol...later gator.
      • You are right my dear friend. This will not hold me from seeing it in the movies. I'll make my own opinion on it with a bucket of pop corn. ;D
        • Bo
          I thought as such. Excellent. I guess we'll both see for ourselves, then. I don't know when I'll see it. Probably not in the near future and down the line when it's all over and forgotten...lol...later...
          • I'll watch it this coming Tuesday ( tickets are cheaper), and will give you a quick review.
          • Bo
            Yes, please do. In full with your review. I have to problems with the 'spoiler' thing whatsoever so tell me it all...like who dies and who doesn't, etc. lol... Thanks, tarek. I now anxiously await...
      • Efterklang
        I've noticed this "collective reviewing" trend myself, it's an interesting subject. In these days with all the technology we have, we get instantaneous access to other people's opinions through twitter, facebook and the like. People might see early buzz/opinions about films and some of it will get stuck in the back of their minds and influence their own opinions. They probably don't even realize it themselves. Of course, this doesn't affect everyone, but I think a large part of reviewers who are very active on social media will get influenced unknowingly. I'm pretty sure consensuses would be different on many films if reviewers were forced to stay away from the internet/social media until they had published their reviews. Now I'm obviously not saying this should happen, but it could be a fun experiment..
        • Bo
          Yes, thanks you for you reply. Am I in discussion with a woman now? That would be a first as so many, if not most, people on these film sites are young guys and they, generally, do not display the perception(s) on display in your reply to me and the recognition of the 'collective thinking' I see around me today. I'm an older guy, much older than most on these sites, with over 40 yrs. working in the film industry and have never witnessed this kind of thing before. Sure, there's the herd mentality and the need for the masses to group together out of fear and the need to feel safe with those who think and feel as they do. It's almost Freud's and Jung's work dealing with'collective unconscious' come to life. Again, I think you're correct in assessing that they, today's reviewers, do so unknowingly. That too is typical with the herd mentality. But this is different and perhaps your take on it regarding this new social media, etc. is the answer. It certainly is an interesting idea and perspective on the matter and this collective reviewing as we both seem to be observing. Thank you for replying to me and sharing your view on it. I appreciate it and the intelligence behind your articulation and expression of your opinion(s). Peace.
          • wait! i am 50! :)
          • Efterklang
            Nah, I'm a guy (27), that's Adèle Exarchopoulos in my picture. Btw, another thing to note is that the average guy's opinion often differ from opinions of reviewers, you see it all the time on sites like imdb and rotten tomatoes in the ratings. Is it because they don't "hang" in the same (social media) circles as them, or is it just because they might not have the same knowledge of movies? Who knows.. It could just be that most people are less critical than reviewers. Anyways, it's good that people form their own opinions. Thanks for your reply.
          • So to enjoy a movie you need to be knowledgeable in movies? Hummm...No sure about that.
          • Efterklang
            Eh, if that's what you took from what I wrote, you need to read it again.
          • Forgive my weak understanding. So, what did you mean by " or is it just because they might not have the same knowledge of movies?"
          • Bo
            Let me interject here, tarek as I think this gentleman means that the average movie goer might not be as knowledgeable of movies as a critic or reviewer who is a paid professional. He also posed it as a question and not as a statement of fact or his opinion. My thoughts on the matter is that no, the average movie goer is not as knowledgeable as most reviewers and critics. Just thought I'd add my two cents worth...lol...
          • Hey Bo. Always a pleasure to read you. What I meant is: I don't need to know about cinema history, filmmaking techniques or post production process to enjoy a movie, as a movie is in first place a visual and emotional experience. Just like I don't need to be a musician or to know how to read a partition to enjoy Bohemian Rhapsody. So, I think this "Your opinion on a movie doesn't matter, unless you've proved yourself (read you've made a movie, you wrote a screenplay or you graduated in film industry techniques" is somewhat fallacious and wrong. I love music, but I can barely play guitar. I love movies, but I've never made a fanmade movie or written an essay on filmmaking. Still, I can spot a good music or a good movie when I see one. What really differentiate a film critic from an average moviegoer is the eloquence. A good film critic can express with words what other people liked or disliked, with regard to his own sensitivity of course, as each one of us watch movies through his own prism. There is no good or bad opinion. Sometimes, as you said, film critics feel the need to contradict the general opinion, just to seem "intelligent". There is no shame to like a hotdog if it tastes good. ;D
          • Bo
            Again, very well said, tarek. I can't and won't argue with you. Especially the "Your opinion on a movie doesn't matter, unless you've proved yourself (read you've made a movie, you wrote a screenplay or you graduated in film industry techniques" is somewhat fallacious and wrong." One's opinion can matter, sure, even if it's an uninformed one...but.... However...lol...sometimes, sometimes it is frustrating to discuss or argue about a film with someone who is just a fan or regular movie going person who knows nothing about the aesthetics of film and the tone, themes, etc. the filmmaker is attempting to reveal and how they are going about doing so. Just sayin'.... I recently read a book by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones discussing how he constructed and arranged and recorded certain songs by the Stones. Now, I love music and play a little, very little, guitar, but I really know nothing compared to him and what he does. After reading his book and then listening to those songs I just loved it. It brought a whole other level into the listening of them. I mean, I loved the songs anyway, but the depth of knowledge he offered me on their recording process just deepened my appreciation and enjoyment of their work. Righto cheerio?
          • Efterklang
            Like Bo mentioned, I posed it as a question. I did NOT say or mean that your opinion doesn't matter if you haven't proved yourself, or have expert knowledge regarding cinema. However, what I did mean was that if you DO have a lot of insight and experience you will have more criteria to measure films up to. And since you have watched more films you will have more films to compare others to. Therefore, a "scholar" of film would be more critical, but their opinion wouldn't necessarily be worth more. I think the opinions of average movie watchers are just as important. I'm sorry if I'm not getting my point across well, English isn't my native language.
          • Bo
            Well, you're certainly an intelligent, thoughtful and interesting 'guy'. I like your opinions and perspective. However, being a guy, why a photo of the gal from Blue is the Warmest Color? Hmmmmm....I also found your internet handle (name) interesting too....a band from Denmark? I must thank you as I'd never heard of them before so I learned something new. Not bad. And yes, most people are less critical than reviewers. Reviewers are paid to be critical and it seems these days, the young ones on internet sites take that quite literally. Especially since here in the U.S., this Bourne movie hit big at the box office this week-end. Not that that means anything regarding whether it's any good or not...but there seems to be many that think so out there. Later gator.
          • Efterklang
            I just think she is a great actress, and since I mostly use disqus on movie related sites, why not have it as my picture 😉
          • Bo
            Thank you for that explanation...and it's a good one. I'm not as familiar with her work as I am the other gal from 'their' movie...Lea Sydoux...is that how it's spelled? In fact, and I've no reasonable justification, I've not seen Blue is the Warmest Color yet. I think it's because I very rarely go out to movie houses to see films these days as I hate the audiences and iPhones, etc. So I wait until they come on cable and watch them on my 55" Samsung HD Flat Panel TV. Blue/Warmest has yet to come around...my apprehension is that it might not ever....take care.
          • Efterklang
            I agree with you on that, I prefer watching movies at home. I've had that blu-ray for a couple of years though, shouldn't be very hard to get a hold of? Exarchopoulos in that movie is actually one of my favorite performances of all time. Léa Seydoux is of course also great in that movie, she is an excellent actress as well.
          • Bo
            Thanks for your quick response as I looked up how to spell Ms. Seydoux's name...lol...I will be watching this actress, Adèle Exarchopoulos,whom you really like as she just finished a film with one of my favorite directors and actors. The director did Bullhead with the actor I really like, Matthew Schonerarts, (pardon the spelling again) who also was in the director's The Drop with the great Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace. The Drop is just an excellent, dark, gritty and truthful film; one of my favorites of the last few years. So I will for sure be looking for that one when it comes to L.A. I don't know why I don't have a DVD...many reasons I suppose...the least of which is running down the DVD's for movies, etc. I'm okay with cable and whenever whatever comes around. I rarely like any movies anymore so I don't put forth a lot of energy around them. However, gems like The Drop still come and for that I'm grateful.
          • Efterklang
            Yeah, Bullhead was great and he was great in it. I haven't seen The Drop yet though, maybe I should.
          • Bo
            Sorry this is so late coming to you. I did respond to your reply above, but it's gone missing for some reason. Anyway, I just said that yes, maybe you should most definitely see The Drop. From reading your comments I believe you'd like it, especially if you liked the director's film, Bullhead. His new one is finished shooting and is titled The Racer and the Jailbird. Weird title, but it does star Schoenaerts and your gal Adele. She plays a Racing driver from an upper class background, while he plays a good looking but childish gangster. It takes place in Brussels and involves a brutal crime gang. Cheers.
  • DAVIDPD
    I wasn't exactly holding my breath for JASON BOURNE, but all that all the talent in this film would push it higher than a 2/5. I will still see this for Vikander and Cassel.
  • Ehsan Davodi
    I love Bond Movies , but when i think about its bad episodes i let myself to be accept this weak sequel anyway (if it would be) ... and if it was repetitive sequel either , i think it was more strong action-thriller in comparable unconvincing fake recently movies.
    • Except, this ain't a bond movie. Spectre was a piece of dung by the way.
  • ragethorn
    Saw this coming when I first saw the trailer. Matt Damon will soon be the next Ben Affleck. While Bef Affleck will be the new Matt Damon.
  • Brandon
    Boy this year's been disappointing. The movie I most wanted to see all year long (by far) ends up being yet another cash grab. And even the new version of "Extreme Ways" sucks.
    • Not only is 2016 the year I went to the movies fewer times than ever, I really only liked one movie. With Stranger Things on Netflix, it's clear (even tho ST steals from everyone but it does it so well) that the more interesting stuff is happening on TV these days.
  • Javier JQ Quetzalcóatl
    The lack of originality angle doesn't make sense anymore. More so when the same persons using this argument didn't complain about, for example, The Force Awakens. How come some movies are hailed for the copying and repetition and others buried for the same reasons... damn....
  • rickvanr
    It was completely on par with the other Matt Damon Bourne's. I don't understand how they're incredible and this was lackluster?
    • Steven
      Well.........I didn't read the review the moment I saw that it written by Jeremy 'hack it to pieces to be a sensationalist' Kirk.
  • Ardis
    *Comment contains spoilers of course* I was pumped for it being I enjoy the series- and... I loved it! It didn't disappoint and was probably my fav of the series thus far. The whole Vegas car chase / fight scene at the end was too cool and I loved all the stuff about his father revealed. Vincent Cassel's character was great. Also surprisingly enjoyed Alicia Vikander's role (wonder if she'll return for the next movie). Really enjoyed Tommy Lee's role (tho disturbing to see him so fragile looking). What I didn't like?... The whole sub-plot w/ the sorta Steve Jobs-esque character. It was clunky & it felt like it that story itself could've been a whole entire movie on its own. *I saw it in 4D & it was a very cool experience so- when someone in the movie was driving, the chair would move or if there was water, water would spurt out! or during fight scenes, the chair would kind jab you! Recommend seeing it 4D!*
  • Trey
    This movie was really good...I didnt even read the review above...lol
  • Bl00dwerK
    I didn't see anything wrong with it. It's, at the very least, as good as the last two Damon was in, but none of them are as good as the first one. Identity is the best.
  • I wasn't feeling it so much. Might need to see it again, but it was a bit boring.
  • Goldman2016
    It felt to me like it was only somewhat about Bourne, and that wasn't so bad I think. The second vehicle chase was a bit too Michael Bay like I think. The first one was great. I saw one small tip of the hat to 'Legacy' which I thought was a nice thing to do without following it up in any way.
  • Alex Dawson
    I thought the movie was good, sure, it didn't provide the excitment of Bourne Supremacy or Bourne Ultimatum, but it was better than Bourne Legacy and on par with The Bourne Identity. Yeah, Jason Bourne is older and it feels that he isn't as fresh as in the previous movies, but I think Matt Damon gave a performance on par with the movie, which was good. The movie could've been better, the writing could've been a bit more complex, and the actors could've given better performances, the action scenes are good, but I think they should've put more action scenes in a Bourne movie, or the action scenes shoul've been longer. Overall, for me it was a good experience, I rate it 7/10

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