He knows everything. He remembers everything. It’s just that the everything he remembers isn’t the everything that there is to know.
Couple that with the changes in the world since the last Jason Bourne film (WikiLeaks, Snowden, etc.) and the potential is there for a really terrific movie.
Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) has been off the grid for a decade – so far off the grid that he’s reduced to illegal bare knuckles fighting (in Greece) to make money – one of his fights looks like he’s deliberately taking serious punishment before winning. Might he be trying to assuage some form of guilt for his actions while he was an active CIA black ops operative?
Meanwhile, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) breaks into a data farm in Reykjavik, Iceland to hack the CIA’s database to download files on black ops programs from pre-Bourne to the present. What she finds horrifies her and sets her on a path to Greece to find Bourne.
When she finds him, he really doesn’t want to know – until she tells him that David Webb/Bourne had been under surveillance well before he signed up with the CIA. He also learns that his father created the Treadstone program he’d joined – not long before he died.
At Langley, the CIA has picked up on Nicky’s hack and – under the orders of Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) – Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), the head of the cyber division heads up an operation to eliminate her… and Bourne if he shows up. The assassin Dewey commissions, known only The Asset (Vincent Cassel), turns out to have a past with Bourne – complicating things.
Add to the mix a social media giant – Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed, The Night Of) – who used CIA funding to get his start-up going but is now no longer willing to allow The Company free access to his new upgrade. Now we’re getting into Snowden territory with potential 100% surveillance of the entire world by the CIA.
When Lee’s operation doesn’t get Bourne, she decides they should try to ‘bring him back in’ – which is something he may well have been contemplating. Unfortunately, her boss – while giving her the okay to try – goes behind her back with his own agenda. Equally unfortunately – for Dewey – she is not someone you can stab in the back with impunity.
So, we’ve got Bourne once again after answers – this time to questions he never knew even existed (a reasonable way to continue the series) – and the target of two, possibly three, very competent foes; one of whom could be a potential ally.
The result is a movie that manages to both move like a bat out of hell and create interesting new characters to fill Bourne’s world.
As with the previous films – and especially the last two, directed by Paul Greengrass, Jason Bourne, the film, is grounded in reality to some extent. The fight sequences and most of the chases seem to take place in a real world scenario which makes Bourne’s situation relatable to more of an extent than most spy/espionage movies.
As with the rest of the series, the combination of Greengrass’ kinetic camera and Christopher Rouse’s razor sharp editing reduces fight and chase sequences to their essence. Not a frame is wasted – until the film’s final act until, in the last twenty minutes or so, it inexplicably turns into a Blues Brothers movie.
Seriously, the final chase sequence is so over the top and out of character for the rest of the film that with minimal lighting shifts and some propulsive electric blues on the soundtrack, it could be the final chase in the first Blues Brothers movie.
It’s jarring and just feels wrong. It’s also too long and makes the final fight sequence feel anticlimactic.
On the plus side, the addition of Vikander’s Lee sets up a seriously dangerous character who could be brought back should Jason Bourne make enough to warrant another film in the series – she’s smart, capable and, while as utterly ruthless as Dewey, a part of this new high-tech world in which Dewey is a dinosaur.
Another plus is that Bourne may have been off the grid, but he certainly didn’t ignore what was going on in the world. There are times when he knows exactly what gizmos he needs to get the results he needs – one of which plays extreme dividends in the film’s final moments.
It’s really just the one sequence that changes what had been a terrific entertainment, into an average on.
Short version: I really enjoyed Jason Bourne – right up until it turned into a Blues Brothers movie with a chase sequence that was as over-the-top as the rest of the film was rooted in a recognizable kind of reality.
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Photos courtesy of Universal Pictures