John Allegretti ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
If there’s one thing the C.I.A. never learns, it’s that you don’t piss off Jason Bourne. All the guy wants to do is live his life and be left alone. After the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) lives off the grid, making money as an underground boxer. But when Bourne franchise regular Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) steals digital government secrets, Bourne is thrust back into a fight between him and the C.I.A. Also involved is Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed), a tech innovator who has developed the social media network Deep Dream through the government, but wants to separate from Uncle Sam once the data of his users becomes jeopardized.
Jason Bourne introduces two new C.I.A. characters, Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), and Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones). Heather Lee is a unique character in the Bourne saga in that her exact motives remain a mystery. Previous C.I.A. characters have either wanted to help Bourne or hurt him, and Vikander seems to be dabbling in-between in a fascinating performance. Unlike many of the past C.I.A. directors, Dewey is a straight-up villain, and Jones seems to be having a great time playing the part. His performance is entertaining and never sinks into ham or schlock.
The same can’t be said for Christian Dassault (Vinzenz Kiefer), a hacker who Bourne runs into halfway into the film. Kiefer’s lines are always strange and delivered in such an over the top way you wonder if you’re watching a Neil Blomkamp film. But the weakest performance here is probably Stiles, who seems to be sleepwalking through her scenes. All of her line deliveries sound forced and monotone, even during tense action scenes.
People give Paul Greengrass a lot of heat for his trademark shaky-cam style, and wrongfully so. Greengrass is a guy who understands blocking and geography to the point where all of his shots can be shaky as hell, but the audience will still understand where they are in the scene. He gives you just enough visual information to involve you in the scene without disconnecting you from what’s going on. The film’s climax features a car chase that has about a million cuts and a plethora of shaky footage, but you never feel confused or lost. And for those who don’t like that kind of style, there’s also a great action scene set in the streets of Greece during a protest. Greengrass puts Bourne and Parsons in the middle of a frantic setting, milking every last bit of tension out of the film’s set piece.
The first three Bourne films are not masterpieces by any stretch of the imagination. They’re slickly made action films with minimal character development with some government criticism sprinkled in. The films always start with Bourne getting pulled back into a fight with the C.I.A. and end with him learning something about his forgotten past. Jason Bourne is no different from the previous films. It chooses formula over innovation and while that may frustrate some, the Bourne series has never been known for doing new things. Jason Bourne is about the same level of quality as Matt Damon’s other Bourne films, for better or for worse. Even if some of the flat performances take you out of the film, you’ll have a big smile on your face by the time those strings from ‘Extreme Ways’ come on at the end.
Overall Grade: B-
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