It’s been almost a decade since a Matt Damon Bourne film. The Bourne Legacy falling flat prompted a quick call to director Paul Greengrass and Mr. Bourne himself, Matt Damon.
Let’s face it: Damon puts butts into seats. The screening I attended was full to the brim. The crowd was engaged, and Damon’s return reminded us that he’s the only one suited for this role.
Although, I couldn’t shake the feeling that, as the familiar score began to play before the end credits, this installment wasn’t necessary.
The film opens with Bourne hopping off a van and into an outdoor fight club. The setting is in Greece and, being Greek, it was nice to hear familiar dialogue from the Greek natives. Speaking of locations, the first half hour included plenty of location-hopping. I figured I would’ve gotten the first bit of nausea from Greengrass’ signature shaky cam.
Bourne is off the grid, fighting to make any sort of income. Meanwhile, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) is first seen entering a cafe for hackers. Plenty of clicks and keyboard strokes later, Parsons hacks into a classified CIA database to obtain files old and new, including the newest program, “Ironhand,” CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) plans to implement. It’s effectively the newest Treadstone initiative. All of this made for an opening that felt like a conglomerate mess which eventually calmed down and paced itself.
I’m a fan of Greengrass’ style, but it wasn’t enough to shake the wooden dialogue that began with Julia Stiles and ended with Matt Damon. While walking down a Greek street doomed by rioters (yeah, they nailed the Greek riot scene), Parsons exchanges words with Bourne. And by exchange I mean forcefully spew. There was barely a flow between the two, which is disappointing if you’re a fan of the previous installments.
The one character that made me smile after hearing grumpy, smart-ass old man remarks is Dewey. I wish the movie had a couple more moments like the exchange between Dewey and newbie CIA agent Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) in Dewey’s office.
Vikander was one of the new faces for the Bourne series, alongside her coworker Craig Jeffers (Ato Essandoh). They were serviceable for what the film’s worth, but jeez, Vikander, lighten up a tad.
Jason Bourne was never going to be known for its story and character development, anyways, right? Bring on the antagonist that puts up an epic brawl against our confused hero! Granted, the final fight between betrayed secret ops agent, known as the Asset, Vincent Cassel and Damon made for some bone-crunching goodness, but the car chase sequence before it made me smile and gasp. I almost clapped, but 90 percent of the theater had done so for me.
Although, outside of the final action sequences, I felt the movie was … exhausted. We’re in the homestretch and we’ve seen everything that the Bourne series can offer. It’s final attempt to advance a plot that should be in its final lap was the reveal that Bourne, or David Webb, was monitored before his time in the Treadstone program. His father, worried his son was going to turn into a killing machine for the CIA, tried pulling out all the stops to help his son. Richard Webb failed, resulting in his death by the hands of — BINGO! — Vincent Cassel.
I mean, the film was bound to become predictable at some point.
The Deep Dream initiative subplot? I didn’t care for the amount of time they put into trying to make us care about a double-crossing tech genius and owner of Deep Dream, Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed).
The film’s nucleus is what long-time lovers of the Bourne franchise are used to: face-to-fist combat and a Bourne that kicks ass without saying any one-liners. The series should probably conclude on this note, though, because there aren’t anymore surprises. Jason Bourne is not horrible for a summertime popcorn flick, but the shallow storyline, dialogue lazier than Greeks on Easter and both grandiose action scenes just add up to zero interest in another Bourne installment.