Break the ‘Bourne again’ headlines: nearly a decade after The Bourne Ultimatum, Matt Damon and writer-director Paul Greengrass have put together for Jason Bourne, another of propulsion thread of the CIA deterioration of the memory of rogue super-spy. The character was born in the novel of Robert Ludlum, and his big-screen debut, The Bourne Identity, was directed by Doug Liman, but the series is now associated just as closely with Damon and Greengrass that if someone makes a movie of Bourne – for example, The Legacy of Bourne, with Jeremy Renner – it feels like a karaoke version of a classic song. Jason Bourne, on the other hand, is the sound of the band to get back together.
Since the last time I saw it, Bourne has been living outside of the network as a bare-knuckle boxer. It is disappointing that he has not made more productive use of his phenomenal skills, but the idea is that he was traumatized by his time as a brainwashed black-ops killer. The fact that the viewer gets to see an alarming muscle Damon with his part of above, I am sure, unintended bonus.
In any case, Bourne anonymous existence is disrupted when his old friend from the CIA Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) tracks him down to share some new information about his murky past. Bourne was intrigued enough to investigate more, but their queries are upset the CIA director (Tommy Lee Jones, providing the air of elder statesman seriousness and lies that Brian Cox, Chris Cooper, David Strathairn and Albert Finney brought before the deadlines). He believes that Bourne must be distributed by a killer known only as The Active (Vincent Cassel, who is an active, in fact), while his shrewd lieutenant (Alicia Vikander) argues that Bourne can be persuaded to join the Agency.
No one can build a fight sequence that is so head-spinningly fast, but it is also possible to follow
It’s like in the old days. Once more, Bourne advances with respect to a gray and rough European metropolis to the other at breakneck speed. Once more, that is never more than half-a-step ahead of their enemies. And once again, Greengrass stages the action with bone-jarring immediacy, the use of wobbly handheld cameras, and rat-a-tat editing to make the viewer feel as if they can be hit by a stray fist or a bullet at any time. Greengrass agitated envelope-style has been widely imitated, as The Supremacy of Bourne rewrote the rules of the secret agent genre in 2004, but no one else has, your ability to build a fight sequence that is so head-spinningly fast and fragmentary, but it is also possible to follow.
Just to show the imitators how it’s done, it puts the film’s first extended set of the piece in the middle of a demonstration against the government in Athens – and the confidence with which it organizes the chaos is amazing. Once you’ve seen the Bourne barrelling through the crowds of protesters and riot police in a city choked by the smoke and tear gas, you’ll never be able to rewatch 007 daft car chase in Spectre, through a very well-deserted Rome, without smiling.
Bourne, Jason Bourne
But even when Jason Bourne who is on the edge of your seat, even so it is difficult to avoid the feeling that it is not as satisfactory as that of the previous films. In part, it is a simple matter of the law of diminishing returns. Greengrass and Damon (and, to a lesser extent, Liman), have made a positively scientific work of refining the Bourne-movie formula. They know exactly what elements you must have in order to distinguish it from any other thriller of espionage in the market. The disadvantage of this accuracy, however, is still not left themselves much room to maneuver.
It is not as if they can stop Bourne ski-jump off a cliff, or hop on a space ship, or acquire a taste for the vodka Martini and risque of a single line. That you can’t let him do something that he did not in The Supremacy of Bourne and The Bourne Ultimatum – and there is no way that can be more electrifyingly than in those. After two movies that deserved to have “supreme” and “ultimate” in their titles – more or less – follow-up is inevitably going to seem a little less impressive retread of what we’ve seen before.
Perhaps the film should have been called “Chasin’ Bourne ‘ in place
Sometimes, repetition makes you roll your eyes. Isn’t it ridiculous, for example, that the CIA continues the hunt for Bourne, a task that at first had a crack in The Bourne Identity 14 years ago? Taking into account the amount of money, manpower, and the futuristic technology they have at their disposal in the film, you would think that would have caught him by now – and yet, here you are spending a fortune and the mowing down of countless innocent people in the attempt. What a palaver. Wouldn’t it make more sense if they concentrated on the capture of the terrorists in their place?
But the problems with Jason Bourne not all to do with familiarity breeding contempt. There are a couple of other out-of-the notes suggest that, having assembled, the band is not really playing in tune. For one thing, Greengrass resorts more spy-movie trash of what used to be: most of the jargon, most absurdly fast charging equipment, more scenes in which someone looks at a photo on a screen, and barks, “enhance!” and the image blurred by the art of magic enters in pin-sharp focus.
On the other hand, it seems as if Greengrass is trying to do two films at the same time. One of them is about Bourne and his identity, just as the previous ones were. But the other is about a high-tech cyber-conspiracy that has nothing to do with him. It is strange that Jason Bourne must have the full name, such as its title, because Bourne himself is almost a supporting character with less screen time, less depth, and less dialogue than ever. Perhaps the film should have been called “Chasin’ Bourne” in its place.
The non-Bourne plot involves the CIA, the shadow of the deal with a Silicon Valley entrepreneur (Riz Ahmed), whose social networking service is more popular than Facebook, Instagram and Twitter together. Inspired by Wikileaks and Edward Snowden, it is a story that has become in too many movies already. After all, the villain of the plan consists in “the full spectrum of the surveillance observation of all the world, all the time.” But that was not what Blofeld had planned in Spectre? You know that something is wrong in a Bourne movie when it lags a year behind Bond.