Culture Film & TV

Film review: Jason Bourne

Brig's Film & TV editor Jamie Harris gives his verdict on the most recent entry in the Bourne franchise.

 

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(Pictured) Jason Bourne, 2016

It has been nine years since the last good Bourne film, when the original trilogy concluded with The Bourne Ultimatum (let’s just ignore The Bourne Legacy – it wasn’t particularly bad, it was just kind of… meh!). Jason Bourne finally reunites Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass to bring the titular character back to the big screen and it generally doesn’t disappoint.

The story here sees an old school Bourne brought back into the fold from hiding off the grid, with WikiLeaks-style data concerns being a large part of the plot here. That’s not the only modern update the series has received though, as with a blatantly bigger budget comes more bombastic carnage. The final showdown in Las Vegas has so much seriously OTT action, with casinos turned into wreckages and SWAT vans used in car chases. While these were tense scenes, the thing lacking from this entry to the series was the brutal hand-to-hand combat of the earlier films. There’s nothing as inventive here as the use of a pen and a newspaper as weapons as in the films preceding it.

The reason that the action sequences work so well here is because of Paul Greengrass’ direction. His frenetic editing and shaky camera work add a sense of urgency and really puts you at the centre of the action. This is something that more inferior action movies just can’t get right as, more often than not, you just end up watching lots of stuff explode without feeling particularly invested or involved.

The cast here is also very good, with a host of new characters including Tommy Lee Jones’ CIA Director Robert Dewey, Alicia Vikander’s CIA agent Heather Lee, and Vincent Cassel’s Asset. While some of these characters end up being more fleshed out than others, they all prove to be worthy foes. Tommy Lee Jones’ performance stands out as he is almost like a pantomime villain, but the untrustworthy, hierarchy-climbing Heather Lee is also a very good character as you never know how far she’s willing to go to bring Bourne in. While they’re both interesting opponents, it is Asset who is the only one equally as physically threatening as Bourne.

With the story shaping up for more follow-ups, as Bourne discovers more about his identity and more programmes like Treadstone are uncovered, it would be interesting to see where the story can progress from here.

Jason Bourne is back and, while he’s definitely not better, this is still a very good action movie with lots of twists, turns and well executed action sequences to keep you on your toes. For what it has gained in scale, it has lost the bone-crunching intimacy of some of the earlier bust-ups but it is still so well executed that it is a worthy sequel.

4 out of 5

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