by Jeff Walls
The first film to introduce moviegoers to the character of Jason Bourne was 2002’s The Bourne Identity, directed by Doug Liman. That movie was moderately entertaining, but the series really excelled when Paul Greengrass took over for the second and third movies in the franchise, completing a trilogy that did an excellent job of wrapping up the overarching Jason Bourne plotline that was introduced in the original.
After Greengrass and star Matt Damon moved on to pursue other projects, the studio tried to keep the series going by introducing a new hero in 2012’s The Bourne Legacy. That was only a few short years ago, but already that movie has all but been forgotten as audiences clamor for the return of Matt Damon’s titular hero. Thus return both Damon and Greengrass for the fifth entry in the action series, this time simply titled Jason Bourne in an obvious effort to make it very clear to audiences that their hero is back.
Jason Bourne did not want to be back in the spotlight. He continues to live off the grid and would have loved to continue things that way, but when his former associate Nicky Parsons shows up having just been caught hacking into the CIA’s servers, he finds himself thrust back into the agency’s crosshairs.
Following the arrest of the corrupt CIA Director at the end of the last film—and by that I mean Ultimatum, not Legacy—Robert Dewey has taken over the position and he is pretty much up to the same tricks that got the last guy thrown in prison. He has restarted the black ops program that had previously been shut down and has also reached an under-the-table deal with a social media entrepreneur who has created a popular social media program that sounds eerily similar to Facebook. That means for all you privacy settings conspiracy theorists out there, this is the movie for you.
In addition to Dewey and the Mark Zuckerberg-like Aaron Kalloor, played by Tommy Lee Jones and Riz Ahmed, respectively, Bourne also introduces a new asset played by Vincent Cassel and the CIA’s top cyber security agent Heather Lee, played by recent Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander. Lee is ambitious and looks to bring Bourne in to hopefully help her own career, while Cassel’s asset is bent on destroying Bourne for personal reasons.
The plot surrounding the social media forum’s privacy conspiracy is an intriguing one, but unfortunately it exists within a Bourne movie plotline that feels contrived and unnecessary. The problem the movie faces right from the get go is that Jason’s search for his identity and why he was turned into a weapon was very well resolved at the end of the The Bourne Ultimatum. That movie answered most, if not all of the questions that were raised the moment Bourne was pulled out of the Mediterranean with amnesia in the first film. To keep the story going, this movie introduces us to a character whose involvement in Jason’s past was never even hinted at in the original trilogy. Although that is not in and of itself bad, this character and his relationship with Jason is never fully fleshed out leaving it to feel like it was tacked on only to give Jason another hazy memory to unravel. Furthermore, this movie opens with Jason telling us in voiceover that he now remembers everything. Why this hazy memory, then?
With Jason’s plotline feeling so much less interesting than the surrounding plotlines, it often feels as if he is a side character in his own movie. He can still kick butt, though, and the action scenes are once again crazy. Filled from wall to wall with extras, it is amazing the detail and planning that must go into filming some of the scenes in this movie, most notably the Greece fight/chase that takes place in the middle of civil unrest. And busy action scenes do not get much busier than a car chase down the Las Vegas strip; thankfully, SWAT vehicles are seemingly indestructible.
The action in the movie is entertaining at times and is certainly classic Bourne, but the stakes never seem as high as they were in the original three movies, making this one that much less engrossing. In the end, this movie feels too much like the same thing as the previous movies, bringing little new to the Bourne table.
Jason Bourne opens today at the Century Federal Way, AMC Kent Station 14, and AMC Southcenter 16. Won’t it be nice when Des Moines has its own theater again? Until then, eat local before you go!