It’s been nearly 10 years since Matt Damon took on the role of Jason Bourne, but he steps back into the part as if he never left. This is the 4th installment (not counting the spin off) in the series, and is directed by Paul Greengrass, the man behind “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum”. Jason now lives like a nomad, off the grid and invisible to almost everyone. He’s haunted by the life he once lived, and the lives he once took. He’s intent on living out the rest of his days constantly punishing himself for past sins. However, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) approached him with the only piece of information that would ever bring him back into the fold. Now, Jason is off to once again discover the truth, and one can’t help but feel sorry for anyone who gets in his way.
A reoccurring problem that these decade plus sequels tend to have is a story line that doesn’t feel like a natural progression of the series. It’s very clear that things were worked into Bourne’s history that were never intended to be there in the first place. This lead to a bit of a disconnect from the movie and a story that was inferior to all that came before it. Was the story horrible? No. It had its moments, but unfortunately did not live up to expectation.
“Jason Bourne” hit a lot of the same beats as its predecessors. We have multiple car chases, foot chases, an Asset/Assassin, CIA agents in a command center, and up-close hand to hand combat scenes. While all of this is entertaining, it didn’t quite measure up to the originals. Some of the car chase sequences were over-long and at times became a little ridiculous. The shaky cam method used in previous entries managed to add tension to the up-close combat scenes, whereas in this installment it just came across as frustrating. The Bourne series always managed to feel gritty and grounded in reality, if just barely. That reality is shattered in this entry. In what I’m sure was an attempt to top all of the others, they broke one of the things that made the series great.
Something that is present in every Bourne movie, including this one, is the sheer will-power that drives Jason. His determination is incredible, and it’s the primary reason why he’s nearly unstoppable. This is probably my favorite thing about these movies. Jason Bourne is the best, and even though his skills are off the charts, I don’t believe it’s because he’s the most talented. Time and time again, we’ve seen him in a fight where he seems out-matched, but due to his unyielding determination and some creativity, he always comes out on top. I’m happy to see that this trait still shows in the new movie.
Vincent Cassel play the Asset in this sequel, and worked as a good improvement for the series. He’s not simply an assassin with orders and a gun. He has his own agenda, and an ax to bury with Bourne…….which I’m sure he’d like to bury in Jason’s chest. This created a fun dynamic, because we finally have a character that can match our hero’s will and determination. Whenever a villain is personally invested in the situation, and has a driving motivation stronger than simple monetary gain, it creates a more immersive experience. It gives that character layers, makes you think about who they are, if they have family, and how they came to do what they do.
There is not a single bad performance in this movie. The two standouts for me were Matt Damon, and Tommy Lee Jones. Damon, surprising no one, rocked it. He has proven to be an excellent character actor over the years and I love seeing him in just about everything he does. Tommy Lee Jones is the same old crotchety fart that we have all come to know and (sometimes) love.
“Jason Bourne” was an over-all fun summer movie with some issues. Even though it has the same formula as the others, it didn’t quite feel like a genuine entry in the series. The camera work wasn’t great, the story was forced, and some of the chase sequences out-stayed their welcome. Fortunately, there was still a good amount of enjoyable action, and the strong characters and good performances make it a little easier to over-look some of its flaws. It’s not surprising that “Jason Bourne” is the weakest of the Bourne movies, considering just how spectacular the originals are, but it’s still a solid action flick that’s worth giving a shot.
Final Score: B-