** out of ****
(for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief strong language)
Released: July 29, 2016
Runtime: 123 minutes
Director: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, Julia Stiles, Vincent Cassel, Riz Ahmed, Ato Essandoh
Bourne to be mild.
Even with two big action set piece bookends and several smaller ones in-between, Jason Bourne is a rather tedious affair. If you’ve seen any of the previous Bourne movies then you’ve already seen this one. It’s a competent but uninspired cash grab that doesn’t validate its existence beyond anything other than the fact that Universal Studios was able to get star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass back into the franchise fold after a dull attempt without them.
This one isn’t much better. Sure, this fifth chapter in the series (and fourth with Damon) knows exactly what it is and is confident in its formula, but it merely goes through those motions and nothing more. Offering little in the way of surprising revelations or intriguing stakes, Jason Bourne – which continues the renegade exploits of an amnesiac superspy on the run – slogs in the mire of redundancy, even as it overcompensates with its signature kinetic style. The few new disclosures unearthed are fairly boilerplate, as if the writers are grasping at straws (which they likely were).
From familiar plot machinations to rote dialogue (of which Damon has surprisingly little), this is pretty much what you expect. Lots of globetrotting, incognito speed-walking, and high tech hacking (with the requisite scanning, uploading, and downloading before someone corrupts a system). There’s the brawling fisticuffs, too, and the occasional smash ‘em up chases in vehicles of various sizes and varieties.
The shaky cam/hyper-edit aesthetic is starting to feel monotonous at this point too and, quite frankly, pales in comparison to the slick daredevil choreography of the past two Mission: Impossible blockbusters. This repetitive adventure leaves you wanting more Ethan Hunt, not Jason Bourne.
Rehashed, simplified, and dumbed down, Jason Bourne is a shameless example of a franchise on autopilot. Showtime’s relentlessly inventive (and character driven) Homeland is a much more satisfying and substantial way to scratch the itch this perfunctory installment fails to. Bourne may still be wanting answers but I’m not so sure that we do, not if this is all we’re going to get.