Verdict: 4 / 5
The Bourne trilogy is one of the most successful and well-received movie franchises of all time. Its gritty portrayal of an amnesiac super-spy and his attempts to solve the mysteries of his past was heavily grounded in reality, making for more credible action and higher stakes. This latest installment reunites the original actor/director duo, Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass, dropping you right back into Jason Bourne’s tumultuous life. Once again, Bourne becomes embroiled in a US government conspiracy whilst trying to uncover further fragments of his past, and the resulting mayhem is a wildly entertaining watch.
Thrilling, hard-hitting action has become synonymous with the name Bourne, and this film doesn’t make you wait long, delivering an incredible bike chase scene amidst an increasingly violent riot in Athens. Ambitious set-pieces amongst chaotic real-world backdrops is certainly one of Greengrass’ strong points and these only get better, with a superb car chase and some intense close-quarters combat to boot. Towards the end however, Greengrass seems to lose his usual finesse in his ability to pick up key moments within the action, which leads to his signature steady-cam technique becoming a bit difficult to follow.
Matt Damon delivers another concrete performance in a role with which he has clearly become quite comfortable. Although afforded little dialogue, considering he occupies the title role, Damon provides subtleties in expression that more than fill the void. A standout performance from newcomer to the franchise, Alicia Vikander, is the real highlight. Carrying much of the weight of the film, she creates such great intrigue as CIA Agent Heather Lee that you never truly know where she stands.
The central plot is rather formulaic, but the formula is what makes Bourne work and we know it works well. It might have benefited to place more focus on Bourne’s objective in this respect, as the subplot, though motivated by significant current issues, becomes very convoluted. There are ties to whistle-blowing, online privacy, government surveillance, European unrest and even a new Treadstone-like program. Some of these themes are superfluous and often feel forced; the film simply heads in too many directions and never manages to reign them all back in.
Jason Bourne lives up to the standard of the originals, but there is no definitive “wow” factor; no single event that really stands out. The current themes make the film fresh, but they could have been more fine-tuned. There is also a sense of nostalgia though, with the distinctive shadowy visual tones that carry through from the franchise, as well as that familiar enticing song in the end credits. Bourne ties up some loose ends in this latest outing but leaves an open premise, which could mean we see more of him in the future.