Jason Bourne
4.0Overall Score

Jason Bourne (USA, 12A, 123 mins)

Directed by Paul Greengrass. Starring Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, Julia Stiles, Vincent Cassel, Riz Ahmed.

The Plot: Last seen swimming away to his freedom, rogue CIA operative Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) comes out of the shadows several years later. Living off the grid in Greece, he is contacted by former colleague Nicky (Julia Stiles). Now working as a hacker in Iceland, she has vital information about the formation of the Treadstone project. It is not long before the CIA are alerted, via Director Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and his sharp-eyed agent Heather (Alicia Vikander). Heather believes that Jason can be brought back into the fold, whereas Dewey thinks that the best thing to do is liquidate Jason once and for all, before he exposes more shady CIA secrets…

The Verdict: It has been 9 years since The Bourne Ultimatum. A fourth instalment in what initially appeared to be a fully-formed trilogy can raise questions as to the real motivations of the cast and crew involved. It did not really work for Indiana Jones, so could it work for Jason Bourne? There was a decent stab at a spin-off film with The Bourne Legacy in 2012, featuring Jeremy Renner, but it lacked the dynamite duo of Greengrass and Damon. Saying that they would not make another Bourne film unless they both agreed on it was a wise move.

The wait was worth it, because the world has changed a lot in 9 years. The rise of hackers like Edward Snowden and organisations like Wikileaks, along with the increased usage of covert surveillance techniques, even on social media platforms, form the backdrop of the film. The change in title to just simply Jason Bourne is indicative of a move by Greengrass and Damon towards giving the character some closure. There is still unfinished business with the CIA, as they are now launching a sinister new programme called Ironhand. These spooks just do not learn, do they?

Greengrass and his co-writer Christopher Rouse give Jason a harder, rougher edge this time around. Much like another JB (Jack Bauer), the years living off the grid have taken their toll. But this is still the Jason Bourne we all know and admire. His return is a most welcome one. In a summer of blockbusters that have been middling at best, this film is like a much-needed blast of adrenaline. It is essentially a 2-hour chase film, as Greengrass hops his cameras around the globe, from Greece to Las Vegas, via Berlin and London. Each location serves a particular narrative function, also drawing out the story of a deadly ‘Asset’ (Vincent Cassel).

The scene is set early on with a thrilling chase through a protest in Athens that soon turns into a riot, as Jason and Nicky elude the CIA via the crowds. The choreography, stunts and editing in these sequences are first class, really drawing you into the imminent danger of the situation. Later sequences maintain that momentum, topping off the car chase in Ultimatum with even more car-nage along The Strip in Las Vegas (beat that, James Bond). It’s a breathlessly exciting film, which also pauses to hit those important character beats too. Damon, now well settled into the role, is a force of nature throughout and he’s well-supported by the excellent Vikander. In her first post-Oscar role, she takes what could have been a basic two-dimenstional CIA agent and makes her so much more. She will be a talking point as the credits roll.

Jason Bourne feels fully justified, as the film develops the character further, gives him new allies and enemies and keeps him relevant and driven. The film works on every level while never losing focus on the main character. There may be room for another film here, but once again it could only work with the magic formula. We can only hope that Greengrass and Damon are encouraged to make another film, as Jason is such a distinctive, iconic character. Welcome back Jason Bourne. We missed you.

Rating: 4/5

Review by Gareth O’Connor.

  • emerb

    After a nine year break, Bourne is back. Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass prompted widespread surprise with their decision to reteam for another installment in the popular Bourne series, especially after the neat closure at the end of the excellent “Bourne Ultimatum”. Mr Renner is a fine actor but turned out to lack the charisma required to head up an action thriller and so “The Bourne Legacy” pretty much flopped. This new movie is simply titled, “Jason Bourne” and sees Damon’s memory-challenged killing machine resurface and once more he finds himself up against the US intelligence network that built him as he attempts to uncover key secrets about his origins. With sparse dialogue, zero camaraderie,fast editing, dizzying action and phenomenal chase scenes, in the hands of director Greengrass, the Bourne stories are the grittiest and most explosive conspiracy thrillers out there and thankfully this movie is no different.

    Bourne has seen better days. After years in hiding, when we first see him, his fortunes have declined. He’s living in rough rural Greece engaging in bare-knuckle fighting for money. When his old analyst-ally Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) turns up with new information about the now-defunct Treadstone operation that originally trained him and its successor, code-named Iron Hand, he is lured back into the fray in the hopes that he may learn more about his past. Sneaking past the agency’s firewall from a warehouse in Reykjavik, she has managed to steal classified files which appear to implicate Bourne’s own father (Gregg Henry) in some way. However, Parsons’ breach of security has not gone undetected. Ambitious young CIA analyst Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) rightly suspects she has gone over to the other side with the file but sees Bourne as an opportunity rather than a threat and wants to be the one to bring him in. New CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) needs to deal with the problem and this means silencing Bourne at all costs. To do this, he hires a merciless contract
    killer known as “the Asset” (Vincent Cassel) who is completely ruthless and clearly a better match for Bourne’s skill set. As Bourne and Parsons meet in Athens, the Asset pursues them through crowds of protestors that are moving through the streets and waving banners. Watching the two characters alternately stalk and chase each other gives us the most intense, authentic and gripping sequences in the film. The Asset only gets half the job done and Bourne gets away with the top secret file. Another intriguing subplot sees a new character added to the ensemble, Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed), a tech whizz of Silicon Valley who, up to now, has worked with Dewey in exchange for the getting help to establish his start-up. However he now feels he needs to assure his many users that his Deep Dream platform will not allow the government in any under any circumstances, something Dewey is not happy about. The film’s final action sequence takes place in Las Vegas where Kalloor and Dewey are to debate the contentious topic of web security vs. national security. With the Asset on the loose, the scene is set for a memorable showdown and that’s exactly what we get.
    “Jason Bourne” marks a return to what really worked about the franchise and that is Matt Damon himself. He barely speaks in the film and it takes a rare actor to make a performance like this so successful but he nails it. Vikander is convincing also and a welcome addition to the series. In his few scenes, Ahmed makes a very strong impression as a young tech-tycoon emboldened to hold his ground against overbearing government pressure and I was delighted to see the return of Julia Stiles. Cat and mouse chases are rarely as enjoyable as they are in the Bourne movies and one of the best is early on in this film when a frantic early sequence sees car after motorbike through the chaos, smoke, fire and anger of austerity riots in Athens. This sequence provides a gripping centrepiece
    to this non-stop, pulse-pounding and tense thriller, really showcasing Greengrass’ trademark style and skill as an action movie director. In my view, there is nobody better at staging complex, chaotic action amidst the real life of big cities. Technically and logistically, he delivers everything you expect and his work here is what makes this film stand apart from your typical blockbuster. This film should do very well and, even after a nine year break, it will have no problem being re-embraced by series fans like me. It’s Bourne at his best, an exhilarating ride and I, for one, enjoyed every minute of this latest entry into the franchise. You won’t be disappointed.