Genre: Action, Thriller
Director: Paul Greengrass
Running Time: 123 Minutes
“Congratulations, soldier. Training’s over.”
– Conklin, The Bourne Supremacy
Our eponymous hero returns, in the fifth installment of the Bourne franchise, nine years after the release of The Bourne Ultimatum. Jason (Matt Damon) has been keeping busy by entering unlicenced boxing matches in and around Greece, apparently. This strict regime has clearly kept him in shape for all these years. Nicky Parson has been living off the grid but decides to take on The Agency, with the help of a fellow keyboard liberation fighter, by exposing black ops operations and programmes. When Nicky’s hack into the CIA database is detected and terminated, she finds Jason to tell him that there are things about Treadstone that he simply doesn’t know. Things that make this matter very personal for our hero. The CIA’s cyber ops head, Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) and CIA Director, Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones), run an op to find Nicky, thinking that she will meet with Jason due to their history and the nature of the stolen information.
Jason wants answers about his past and his familial connection to Treadstone. Dewey wants to protect the CIA’s interests (and its need to monitor cyber networks globally), while Lee wants to protect her own interests. These paths cross and culminate with the assistance of Aaron Kalloor’s (Riz Ahmed) new social media platform and its connection to The Agency.
Performance & Special Effects
As with Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum, the characters where well acted with a strong cast. I won’t comment on Matt Damon’s performance as we already know him to be the perfect embodiment of Jason Bourne. I will say that Alicia Vikander was fantastic as the ruthless, duplicitous ladder climber, ruled by her hubris. Equally, Tommy Lee Jones’ iteration of the cynical, jaded CIA Director was extremely convincing. I was impressed by Vincent Cassel as The Asset. He was necessarily sociopathic at times but fueled by a personal need for vengeance. The casting for this film was definitely one of its strongest aspects. Even the supporting cast were so well placed that I’m not sure that I have anything bad to say here.
As with the previous Bourne films, shooting on location makes all the difference. It gives the film a decidedly authentic feel. This is a silly thing but I really liked that the film’s introduction of Vegas is during the day time. We’ve become so used to seeing Vegas, and her lights, at night that it was refreshing to see what it looks like during the day, without the glitz. Similarly, I enjoyed that a larger portion of this film is set in the US. Not that I dislike the foreign locations used previously. Rather, it feels almost analogous that this fight should be closer to home, considering how personal this is for Jason. The fight scenes were well choreographed, as has become expected. Greengrass’ signature style is prevalent and was almost like welcoming an old friend home.
The action sequences are as show stopping as in the previous films but kicked up a notch with more wanton destruction of property. These scenes were extremely well executed, and though I cannot understand why a new Dodge Charger’s airbags wouldn’t deploy on impact, I thoroughly enjoyed the multiple chases.
This movie truly is the Bourne Series’ greatest hits album, with such tracks as: camera shake, flashbacks, Jason guiding someone through dangerous and public space, Jason taking out the CIA’s mobile teams without breaking a sweat, public protests/riots, epic car chase with considerable collateral damage, a car being t-boned and pushed as is, Jason using a vehicle of some kind to drive up or down stairs, Jason driving into oncoming traffic, using objects on hand (a magazine, a book, a metal pot) in a knife fight, Jason being strangled, Jason using public transport, Jason being right beside or looking at someone without their knowledge, and Jason using multiple phones which are not his.
The heart pounding pace and gritty filming style, with all that shake, has become synonymous with the Bourne films. The thing that I especially like, in the Series as a whole but, in this film is the evolution of the use of technology and the use of real world current affairs (and conspiracy theories). In Identity, the Assets where contactable via their cellular phone but left largely to their own devices when executing an operation, and the CIA was kitted with the best software and hardware for the time, in Supremacy cellular technology had improved and we are introduced to global digital spying, and in Ultimatum we see NSA spying and the use of Echelon, with the CIA being able to hack into cities’ CCTV networks and manipulate them as they see fit, while the Assets are given far stricter routes and instructions to follow with little to no deviation from the parameters. Though Treadstone didn’t work out as a programme, it would seem that the system is perfected by the third film in the form of Blackbrier. Jason Bourne shows us a slick, well-oiled and hi-tech combat room, with Assets being fed information and intel in real-time with live feeds of their every move going to head office. Current technology is, once again, employed in the film together with the current proclivity in the general use of social media. This is done alongside the use of current (at the time of filming) events, such as the riots in Greece, the mention of Snowden and the insinuation of the Lone Wolf Theory.
The overarching plot within all the Bourne films is that of government agencies playing judge, jury and executioner, and the danger that that type of power presents. It corrupts and becomes addictive, with all lines being blurred and crossed. None of the ideas within the Bourne Series are original within a film context, and especially so when it comes to conspiracy theories involving government and intelligence agencies. However, they are well executed and keep you sitting on the edge of your seat. Jason Bourne had the same effect on me as its predecessors did. I would not recommend watching this film if you have not seen the previous installments or if you did not enjoy the previous films. This is a great summer blockbuster action release.
My rating: 4/5
Jason Bourne is currently showing at cinemas.
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