Jason Bourne Movie Review

In my list of ten movies to look forward to this summer, JASON BOURNE was at the top. I commented then about how the films are on a constant loop in my home because my wife likes to use them as a radio. Not only does she love the heart pounding score by John Powell but she uses it as a time frame or a ticking clock if you will for whatever she might be working on.  With a running time of 123 minutes or roughly 15 labor contractions that are 8 minutes apart, JASON BOURNE’s intensity failed to fully put my full term pregnant wife into labor.  Now, I would be crazy to call that a failure. But as the biggest most passionate and beautiful Bourne fan I know, my wife said it was “a mixed bag.” Perhaps it was the constant tightening and relaxing of the uterine muscles occurring at 8-minute intervals that prevented her from fully immersing herself into the action, or perhaps she’s exactly right.

Matt Damon in Jason Bourne

After a nine year hiatus, American spy Jason Bourne is back in another action thriller with star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass. Keeping a low profile, Bourne has been busying himself by entering into street fight matches across the world. (CONTRACTION!). Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) has hacked into the secret government files containing more classified information presetting Treadstone and Blackbriar that might effect Jason Bourne. (CONTRACTION!). Once Bourne resurfaces, a young, aggressive, surveillance savvy, CIA agent by the name of Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) is hot on his trail.  (CONTRACTION!). CIA director, Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) is in charge of the new ‘catch Bourne’ operation and unleashes his lethal “Asset” (Vincent Cassel) who has a personal vendetta against Bourne. (CONTRACTION!).

Jason Bourne

The exciting fast paced, documentary style shaky cam direction from Paul Greengrass is once again prevalent but something feels slightly off in this installment.  Everything is good but not great.  The action and live set pieces are put together nicely and the chases are exhilarating. But no one moment stands out as memorable or as Bourne’s signature ‘gotcha’ moment.  Maybe it’s the effect of the high quality before, but the whole genre can’t help but be compared to its predecessors.  BOURNE IDENTITY to BOURNE SUPREMACY to BOURNE ULTIMATUM – each sequel did the rare achievement of being better than the previous.  I know it’s a lot to ask for JASON BOURNE to match the greatness that came from ULTIMATUM, but it never has those singular amazing moments that each one prior achieved on their own.

Matt Damon in Jason Bourne

JASON BOURNE has its highlights in action and tactical maneuvering.  Matt Damon once again shines as the aging Jason Bourne with an identity crisis. However, his purpose lacks the urgency or the impressively detailed craftiness that he once displayed. His quick handed movement, that we all know and love, has lost some steam but his brute force still packs a mighty punch. Unfortunately, the villain with a grudge angle never brings the desired intensity. Furthermore, one of the climactic scenes is far too dark to relish in the impressive hand to hand combat choreography. None of these are necessarily bad, in fact, JASON BOURNE is still the best thing to come out in this lackluster summer, it’s just that we’ve seen the filmmakers achieve better.

Tony Gilroy, who worked on all previous Bourne screenplays and directed BOURNE LEGACY (the one without Matt Damon and the one that I don’t count as a Bourne film) is absent this go around. Instead, the screenplay, based on the characters created by Robert Ludlum, was written by director Paul Greengrass and editor Christopher Rouse (who won an Academy Award for editing BOURNE ULTIMATUM). Another difference is from composer John Powell, who does return but shares duties with composer David Buckley. I’m not sure if using two composers was the problem, but the score never quite felt right.  The placement, levels and overall effect was lacking compared to what is usually a highlight in previous installments.

Jason Bourne is a welcoming figure in our household. He may not be giving birth, but he still is an impressive hero. To borrow from TOMMY BOY, Bourne is like that box marked guaranteed – He makes you feel warm and toasty inside.  While I may have sounded quite critical, the newest film delivers with that guaranteed label as another intense and mostly satisfying entry into the series.  JASON BOURNE lacks some of the more exciting and memorable elements from its predecessors, however, I fully admit I had some distractions. (CONTRACTION!).

OVERALL 3.5
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