The wait is finally over. Jason Bourne has returned to the big screen for the first time since 2007. The Bourne Legacy may have been the most recent film in the series, but for many it left something to be desired. Perhaps it was Jason Bourne himself. Much to fans’ excitement, Bourne is back for a new chapter of his own. There’s no shortage of action and thrills in his latest outing, but does Jason Bourne give us anything new?
After years of existing off the grid, Jason Bourne has been lured back into the game, enticed out of hiding with new clues about his past and his connections to Treadstone, and this time it’s more personal than ever. As the man who was once known as David Webb realizes that he doesn’t have the whole story, he is bound and determined to learn the rest. But if he wants to continue unraveling the mysteries of his past, Bourne will have to go through the CIA. Again. Central Intelligence is up to its old tricks, and Bourne’s reemergence poses a potential threat to their plans for yet another intrusive, ammoral Black Ops program. What unfolds is the typical explosive game of cat and mouse that has made this series so memorable.
Matt Damon’s reprisal of his iconic role is seemingly effortless. For a guy returning to a character he hasn’t portrayed in almost a decade, there doesn’t appear to be any rust. Damon pulls Jason Bourne back on like an old pair of gloves – well used and still comfortable. Julia Stiles likewise makes a strong return as Nicky Parsons, though we don’t see as much of her as I would have liked. While she has an important part to play, it is short-lived, and it seems whatever questions there may have been regarding Bourne’s and Parsons’ past affiliation could remain unanswered, a possibility I find somewhat disappointing.
On Bourne’s trail are CIA Director Robert Dewey and head of the CIA’s cyber division Heather Lee. Alicia Vikander (as the latter) and acting veteran Tommy Lee Jones (as the former) make their mark on the Bourne series. Though they render solid performances of their own, their respective roles are repetitive in nature as internal politics arise once more in the Agency. The status quo and ambitious idealism butt heads as a result of Dewey’s and Lee’s conflicting motivations and methods about how to deal with the former CIA assassin, with Heather Lee taking on an almost Pam Landy-like persona.
Jason Bourne has the potential to be the best film of the series, but it falls a bit shy of that achievement due to its lack of originality. It definitely satisfies with its stylised action sequences and reckless motor vehicle chases that have become a mainstay for these movies, however, while the plot isn’t uninteresting or poorly structured, its conflict may be too predictable. Even as I was mesmerized by what I undoubtedly consider a fast paced thrill ride, I couldn’t help thinking: haven’t I seen this before? While the general formula may be one that doesn’t disappoint, this far into the series it just seems a little too familiar.
That said, there is some intrigue as Jason delves further into his own past and discovers that there is more to his recruitment to Treadstone than he originally thought. As he digs deeper, he learns a shocking, sinister truth, while at the same time revealing a bitter rival he didn’t know he had. Vincent Cassel takes on the role of the CIA’s formidable asset, and while Bourne going toe to toe with a CIA attack dog may not be anything new, the conflict between these two is of a more personal nature. There’s a score to be settled. A reckoning to be had.
I very much enjoyed watching Jason Bourne. It is fun and exhilarating and has arguably just about everything you could expect from a Bourne movie. It just might be too much like its predecessors, as it basically follows the same blueprint. That doesn’t necessarily ruin the experience, but for a series that has unequivocally left its stamp on the action thriller genre, it doesn’t exactly raise the bar, either.
It’s business as usual. But perhaps that’s the point. As long as there are governing bodies, there will always be certain entities or parties within them intent on abusing their power who need to be held in check. “There is nothing new under the sun” – Ecclesiastes 1:9. Be that as it may, it seems to me like what this series needs now is a new kind of threat, a different kind of mystery. And maybe in future we’ll get just that – the conclusion to Jason Bourne is somewhat open-ended, which may call for another sequel. Maybe the movie we need next is “The Bourne Legend”. I don’t know about you, but I like the sound of that.
Jason Bourne is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief strong language