Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Julia Stiles, Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent Cassel, Riz Ahmed
Runtime: 1 hr 58 mins
Rating: PG13 (Violence)
Released By: UIP
Official Website: http://www.jasonbournemovie.com/
Opening Day: 28 July 2016
Synopsis: Matt Damon returns to his most iconic role in Jason Bourne. Paul Greengrass, the director of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, once again joins Damon for the next chapter of Universal Pictures’ Bourne franchise, which finds the CIA’s most lethal former operative drawn out of the shadows. For Jason Bourne, Damon is joined by Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel and Tommy Lee Jones, while Julia Stiles reprises her role in the series. Frank Marshall again produces alongside Jeffrey Weiner for Captivate Entertainment, and Greengrass, Damon, Gregory Goodman and Ben Smith also produce. Based on characters created by Robert Ludlum, the film is written by Greengrass and Christopher Rouse.
No ‘Supremacy’. No ‘Ultimatum’. And of course, no ‘Legacy’. Just the name of the character we are familiar with – oh, and the return of Matt Damon in the titular role. Not just Damon in fact, but Paul Greengrass, the director of ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ and ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ whose vérité style, with its dizzying handheld camerawork and splintered editing, became synonymous with the franchise as well as – for better and for worse – a much-imitated style of action blockbusters in recent years. Both are back after a nine-year break, and you’ll be glad to know that neither has lost their respective sensibilities in crafting a tense, propulsive motion picture pulsating with a palpable sense of urgency. Oh yes, and the fact that Greengrass has not lost his political edge gives ‘Jason Bourne’ an added sense of relevance too.
Rather than rely on someone else, Greengrass has taken it upon himself to assume scripting duties here, collaborating with longtime series editor (but first-time writer) Christopher Rouse to bring Bourne back into the CIA’s crosshairs. Keeping with his raison d'être of the initial trilogy, Bourne’s motivation here remains personal, emerging from the depths of bare-knuckled underground fights on the outskirts of the Greek border to uncover his father’s involvement in the Treadstone programme as well as the truth behind his presumed death at the hands of Islamic terrorists in Beirut years ago. It is his fellow Company renegade Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) who brings the information to his attention, after harvesting some Black Ops files from the CIA’s dungeon while working for a WikiLeaks-type figure determined to expose the U.S. Government’s deepest and darkest secrets.
Bourne’s determination to uncover more of his past comes up against the CIA’s current director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones), who has a couple of skeletons in his closet that he prefers to keep hidden. The fact that Bourne also has information on his latest covert programme known as Deep Dream involving a Facebook-like social media company run by billionaire founder Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed) makes Bourne an even more crucial target to be eliminated. Dewey is assisted by a brilliant and ambitious tech analyst Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), as well as a relic of the Blackbriar programme – referred to here as the “Asset” (Vincent Cassel) – with his own score to settle with Bourne. Not just Dewey of course, each of the other supporting players will at some point emerge with their own secrets and hidden agendas, the irony here being how Bourne is probably the least inscrutable character.
By this point, it is safe to say that the Bourne franchise has left the shadow of the Robert Ludlum novels on which the character is based in the dust, but in turn, Greengrass has shaped Bourne as the post-9/11 hero that we need. Through Bourne, Greengrass raises questions about the dangers of Big Brother and just how much we should compromise on individual privacy for the greater good of national security, positing a very real scenario that the corporations owning the social media platforms with so much of citizens’ metadata (and actual data) could in fact be in cahoots with the Government that their users inherently distrust. That the finale set in Las Vegas should have its basis in an Exocon conference where the topic of privacy versus security is being discussed further attests to how serious Greengrass is about the issue.
That doesn’t mean that he has forgotten what his core fan demographic has turned up for; in fact, if anything, Greengrass ups the ante in each one of his confidently staged action set-pieces – first, a fiery riot in Athens’ Snytagma Square where Bourne comes out of hiding to meet Nicky that starts off as a foot pursuit amidst clashes between police and rampaging protesters and turns into a thrilling motorcycle chase along the city’s narrow back streets; followed by a public rendezvous between Bourne and a former Treadstone employee in London that sees Dewey run his own little operation by the side; and finally, a mammoth showdown that goes from a ‘Manchurian Candidate-like’ assassination at a big public event to a slam-blang chase along the Las Vegas Strip with massive vehicular carnage. If anything, Greengrass aims for a breakneck pace that could do with greater moments of quiet contemplation and conversation, especially that which does not involve Bourne running, shooting or fighting.
Yet even as it does keep us viscerally engaged and intellectually stimulated, ‘Jason Bourne’ does not lose its emotional core thanks to Damon’s grounded performance. He may have even less to say compared to any of the previous movies, but Damon remains compulsively watchable as the haunted protagonist at the centre of a very frenetic movie. Strictly speaking, this latest entry hardly breaks any new ground, but Greengrass and Damon are back at what they did best close to a decade ago, complete with a topical subtext to ensure its currency. If you’ve never liked Greengrass’ mix of blurry zooms, pans and quick cuts, you’re not going to start anytime now; but anyone looking for that unique sense of excitement in ‘Supremacy’ and ‘Ultimatum’ will welcome this rehash with open arms.
(No less – but also no more – than an enjoyable retread of what made the Paul Greengrass’ Bourne movies so thrilling, engaging and heart-stopping)