#REVIEW: “JASON BOURNE”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Prior to this week, I had only watched The Bourne Identity and never managed to find the time to catch up on the other adventures in the Bourne saga. I finally watched them all in succession and like most people, I found The Bourne Legacy to be an immense let down. But I was impressed by the technical wizardry at play in The Bourne Supremacy and the Oscar-winning The Bourne Ultimatum. They both were down and dirty Action Pictures in the classical sense, amplified by postmodern filmmaking techniques. And while star Matt Damon and Director Paul Greengrass said they would never return to the Franchise, it appears the universe had other plans.
Years after helping expose some of the CIA’s darkest secrets, Jason Bourne (Damon) is keeping “low key” as an underground Russian fighter. When old friend Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) emerges with new information about his past and the CIA in hot pursuit, Bourne is thrust back into a world he has been trying to escape. But he may not be able to outrun all of the new secrets coming to light.
What follows is your typical Bourne amount of intrigue, conspiracies, inconsistencies and thrills. Greengrass and Editor Christopher Rouse take over screenwriting duties from Franchise mainstay Tony Gilroy and deliver a Film that fits right into the canon that started back in 2002. The dialogue is a little clunky in some sections, but they give the Film a sense of timeliness with subplots about social media and online privacy issues. While they add a few too many characters and make at least one unforgiveable mistake – one the Franchise has been criticized specifically for before – they add to the Bourne mythos, adding another layer to an already fascinating character.
The Bourne Films are best known for their thrilling chase scenes and Jason Bourne delivers in spades. An early chase through a Greece riot-turned-warzone is impeccably shot and appropriately tense. There is a lot going on in the scene, but Greengrass and Rouse never stray too far from their focus. They even go one further with a chaotic car chase through the Las Vegas strip that ranks as one of the best in the series. Having just returned from a trip to Vegas, I noticed a few illogical geographical errors in the scene – but they never took me out of how incredibly well-staged and shot it was. I only wish it was longer!
Damon slides right back into his role as Bourne with ease, proving how big a hole he left by not starring in Legacy. He gets very few lines (although I want to say he had more than the 25 you keep reading about), but he brings a fierce energy to every moment that goes unrivaled. Vincent Cassel is a worthy adversary as the villainous Asset with ties to Bourne’s past. He plays the character a bit looser than previous franchise Assets (played by the likes of Clive Owen and Karl Urban), but gives the character a devious charm. I wanted to love Alicia Vikander’s CIA analyst Heather Lee and her questionable loyalties, but never found her or her uneven accent to be all that compelling. Stiles, Tommy Lee Jones, Riz Ahmed and Bill Camp are all intriguing supporting players, but none of their work really amounts to much beyond moving the plot forward or revealing new truths.
While some fans may be disappointed, I found Jason Bourne to be a worthwhile addition to the Franchise and a pretty solid Action Film. Where it falters in its clunky dialogue and abundance of supporting characters, it succeeds with its awesome chase sequences and some rather brutal fight scenes. Let’s just hope we do not have to wait another nine years to see Damon kick ass and take names again.
Universal Pictures Canada release JASON BOURNE on Friday, July 29, 2016.