Jason Bourne marks the fifth instalment in the stale, repetitive, and formulaic Bourne franchise. As you can tell from my blunt opening, Jason Bourne sticks to the usual script, and it offers an experience without reward. It’s nothing new, it doesn’t do much of interest, and it brings back a character whom there isn’t all that much affirmation towards.
I did enjoy the first three films. I don’t think they’re excellent, but they offered great entertainment value and gave us a somewhat interesting protagonist. However, Paul Greengrass (director of Bourne 2, 3 & 5) decided to recycle the formula of the first film and seemingly adopt a ‘rinse and repeat’ mentality to the series.
The recycling involves repeating conventions which don’t work like they used to. The cinematography is still wholly jarring and incoherent. Most shots look seemingly handheld and action sequences are still poorly shot and edited, therefore the experience is very unpleasant. Following on with this idea, the sound in the film also doesn’t work. The Athens and Las Vegas chase sequences are poorly sound-mixed and are too overbearing. It’s an awful experience sonically as you’re treated to a horrible never-ending barrage of crashing metal and inaudible shouting.
Subtlety is another one of the film’s noticeable faults. Alicia Vikander plays a high level CIA operative who uses the Bourne assignment as a springboard to a higher position and status. To show these ideals of gender equality in the workplace, Vikander’s character is checked into suite 2016 at a hotel. When the writing is that on the nose, you can imagine how the espionage is handled. I cannot tell you how many times the words “the asset” feature in the script!
In regards to the story, I’d be hard pressed to explain it to you. In a world where Jason Bourne finally remembers everything, he’s suddenly given more questions. That’s the inciting log line for the events of the film. It’s a retread of how the other films work for a lot of aspects: Bourne on the run, an assassin chasing him around the globe, sinister secrets in the government, foul play espionage, etc.
In regards to the performances, Matt Damon is great. I think he’s a fine actor, and he’s got a great handle on this character. He receives adequate support from Tommy Lee Jones, who thankfully doesn’t phone it on. Vikander is okay, but really doesn’t get any chance to shine as with her prior work. Damon is able to carry things on this front rather well, largely due to the notoriety of the character doing all the talking for him.
The character of Jason Bourne was entertaining in the original films because he was an enigma and one whose identity was slowly and tactfully unravelled. However, now that he’s a man with all the answers, he’s rather uninteresting. There’s entertainment to be had with his ambiguous morals, but as a character, he’s quite boring and fills his screen time with various clichés, like the unintentionally silly ‘disappearing act’.
Despite my negativity, I did not hate the film, it’s just very average. Its wrongdoings are largely the result of it being the fifth time that we’re seeing a slight variation on the same movie. I enjoy espionage and action films so my nostalgia will always have some bearing on my judgement. I just think that overall, it has its problems, but its confidence in its execution clouds the overt recycling.
Written by Luke Compton