Matt Damon reunites with director Paul Greengrass to bring the amnesiac super soldier back to cinemas in Jason Bourne; the fifth -though one was a spinoff- film in the series.
For the longest time, Matt Damon insisted that there was no story to tell and later he said he would only return if Paul Greengrass was directing so the real question around this film is whether the existence of it is worthwhile considering The Bourne Ultimatum closed things off fairly neatly.
For me the answer is that the existence of this is far from worthwhile. I was heavily disengaged through most of this film as I felt that the story was retreading common ground in terms of the character of Jason Bourne. There was a slightly different spin on uncovering elements of his past but it all felt really forced and unearned.
If you’ve seen a Bourne film then you’ll know what to expect here. We have government corruption, Jason Bourne being the incredibly skilled little guy on the run from an organisation that he used to be a part of and intrigue around something larger going on in the background. The previous Matt Damon films in this franchise managed to find interesting things to do with that in ways that felt grounded to the character of Jason Bourne but there was nearly none of that here. I didn’t feel like Jason Bourne was an organic part of his own story.
The narrative is a little muddled and meandering as well. There’s a subplot involving privacy and how that relates to social media but it doesn’t go anywhere interesting despite the obvious attempt to reference Apple’s refusal to allow the FBI into their system. It should have been a great story and if it was the focus then maybe it would have been instead of the superficial way it was presented in this film.
Matt Damon is great as always. Jason Bourne is his character and he absolutely nails his performance on every level. His physicality is believable, he hits all of the emotional beats effortlessly as well as managing to convey so much information through his body language and facial expressions. Jason Bourne is very much a silent assassin who doesn’t speak unless he feels he has to and that rings true here. It’s a shame that the character isn’t in a story that does him justice but Matt Damon’s performance can’t be faulted.
The rest of the cast are a fairly mixed bag. Alicia Vikander is horribly underused in this film but does a great job with the thin character she is given. There are hints of depth that almost come to the surface but never quite break through. She mostly comes across as the latest government employee questioning what she is being asked to do. So much more could have been done with her but I get the feeling they were setting her up to play a more significant role in a sequel.
Tommy Lee Jones is the villain of the piece and he more or less phones it in. He’s good but Tommy Lee Jones is always good. He can deliver layered sinister dialogue in his sleep at this point and definitely seems that way here. There’s nothing about his character that feels as threatening or shady as the film clearly needs him to be so anything involving him falls completely flat. As with everything in this film there’s a lot of potential that isn’t capitalised on.
One thing the film does excel at is the action. Paul Greengrass has always been great at delivering dynamic action sequences and this is no exception. A motorbike chase through Greece in the middle of a riot is exceptional and a car chase towards the end impresses greatly as well. Not to mention the hand to hand combat is as brutal as always so at least the film can be counted on to entertain through action.
A missed opportunity on so many levels. Matt Damon is still great as Jason Bourne and Paul Greengrass can still deliver a really impressive action scene but that’s about all that works here. The characters are thin and underwhelming, the story is really superficial and meandering with no clear organic focus on Jason Bourne as a character. There are hints of a better film throughout but it never quite gets there.
- Matt Damon’s performance
- Paul Greengrass delivering excellent action sequences
- bland characters
- the superficial story
- retreading old character beats for Jason Bourne