My friend Ron said that in “Jason Bourne” almost all of the characters have no redeeming qualities. However, they keep messing with Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne, and they never learn their lesson that they shouldn’t—either physically or strategically. Ron also pointed out that part of it is that Bourne doesn’t trust anyone.
That is both a blessing and more a curse for Jason Bourne. Those on his bad side as well as those he loves fare tragically.
Matt Damon powerfully returns in Director Paul Greengrass’s “Jason Bourne” as the CIA trained assassin uncovering his forgotten past and recreating his purpose in life. The screenplay by Christopher Rouse and Greengrass is an original story based on the Robert Ludlum characters. Rouse and Greengrass brilliantly weave themes of Machiavellian national security directives and the cost of privacy associated with global social media. “Jason Bourne” is high octane non-stop action with spectacular chases (the amazing Las Vegas scene), and international locals. The movie also makes you think.
What resonates most is the personal existential journey of Damon’s Bourne. At the story arc Bourne confronts duplicitous CIA Director Robert Dewey (awesome Tommy Lee Jones). Bourne says “I volunteered on a lie ”. Dewey tells Jason, “You’re never going to find any peace ” Jason finds little solace in the fact that the world is safer, because of what he has done. Damon embodies Bourne’s tortured and noble soul in his lean words and authentic visage. Bourne of all people deserves to find peace.
Bourne has been off the grid for years. He is in Greece making a living as bare-knuckle fighter. We see the chiseled Bourne (Damon) drop a hulking fighter with a vicious left hook. Julia Stiles also returns as Nicky Parsons, Jason’s only true friend who knew him even before his amnesia. She has startling information about Treadstone, the Program that created him, and his father. Director Dewey (Jones) and his ambitious protégé Heather Lee (strong Alicia Vikander) detect the security breach caused by Parsons. They track down her and Bourne in the middle of a political riot in Greece. We get that this breach may have an aftermath along the lines of Edward Snowden. Dewey activates the Asset (cold-blooded Vincent Cassel) to terminate Bourne. The Asset has his own reason for revenge on Bourne.
The narrative web expands. Back in Silicon Valley, Mark Zuckerberg- like CEO Aaron Kalloor (Riz Amed) is about to launch a breakthrough platform for his social media giant Deep Dreams. Riz has the right mix of swag and darkness. Aaron also may be beholding to Dewey from the past. Heather (Vikander) gets the lead from Dewey to bring in Bourne, though her allegiance is murky. Vikander is wonderfully authentic in her inauthenticity. Tommy Lee Jones brilliantly underplays the overconfident puppet master Dewey.
The downside of “Bourne” is the fight scenes. They seem well orchestrated by choreographer Roger Yuan. I was excited to see the tight boxing and explosive martial arts display. However, the quick cut visual style makes the action difficult to follow and distinguish. This is unfortunate even in the climactic fight sequence.
That aside, overall “Jason Bourne” is solid. Matt Damon makes up for a lot of the rough edges. Paul Greengrass tells a compelling story with velocity. It would have been satisfying to see an eloquent resolution to Jason Bourne’s journey. Well, perhaps more the next time around.
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