Sunday, July 31, 2016

Jason Bourne

Year: 2016
Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent Cassel, Riz Ahmed, Julia Stiles

Plot: Jason Bourne now lives day to day by taking part in illegal fighting. When his handler, Nicky Parsons, hacks the CIA database and retrieves black ops files including Treadstone, she becomes a target of ambitious CIA operative Heather Lee, who is interested in bringing Bourne in. Bourne now has to dodge Lee and her superior, CIA director Dewey and his chosen asset while digging up his past, particularly his late father.

Review: Personally I wasn't too excited about having a new Bourne film, particularly one featuring Matt Damon. Not that he isn't awesome in it, he always has been. It's just that The Bourne Legacy was made, and Jeremy Renner made a great action hero out of Aaron Cross. I was looking forward to a sequel to Legacy, which word has it, will arrive in 2018. For now, we have Damon and director Paul Greengrass reteaming for Jason Bourne, and to be honest, it's pretty damn awesome.

What's funny is that Greengrass hasn't changed his style that much. In his last two attempts with Bourne, he stages elaborate sequences involving large crowds, brutal fights and at least one car chase. Here he does the same thing again, but you gotta give it to the man for making it work even better. In Supremacy and Ultimatum, fans would recall the large crowd sequence in Germany and London's Waterloo Station. Here he gives us not one, but three of these sequences; a riot in Athens, an emergency evacuation in Paddington Plaza, London and a chaotic finale in Vegas. The Athens sequence was amazingly set up, I can only imagine the logistics hell of that entire sequence. Greengrass clearly knows how to plan his action scenes, as all three are well done.

Another thing worth mentioning is the car chase at the end, which is by far one of the best in the series. Damon's Bourne and Vincent Cassel's character chase each other down the Vegas strip in a car and SWAT van respectively. It feels familiar overall but vehicular carnage is just amazing to behold, so I loved every minute of it.

Damon is still great in a role that made him an action star, so no complaints there. Alicia Vikander gives Heather Lee the right amount of ambiguity overall, but I do have a slight issue with her being possibly too young for the role. Tommy Lee Jones and Vincent Cassel are okay as the film's villains, though I'm surprised how well Cassel did in his role. He's pushing 50 but is still able to go toe-to-toe with Damon.

Scriptwise, the film is reminiscent of what has come before. Tony Gilroy might not be on board this time, but the old story beats of Bourne chasing his past while the CIA tries to cover it up is in play again here, this time involving Bourne's late father, who was involved in Treadstone. Despite the familiarity, it works with what we should expect from Bourne. There's also a subplot involving a social media mogul whom the CIA wants to work with in order to monitor the public, which is easier to understand and relate to compared to previous Bourne plots.

I am wary though, of how much longer Jason Bourne's story will carry on. This film works very well, but exactly how often can Greengrass and Damon do this before audiences get tired? The 9 year layoff since Ultimatum certainly helped them here, but like I mentioned earlier, it's time to let Aaron Cross run with the baton.

But I'll give credit where it's due. Jason Bourne was better than I expected. Maybe I'll change my mind over time, but if you want summer action, this film is it. (8/10)  

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