The original Bourne trilogy were some of the best actions of the 2000s; Doug Liman’s opening installment was a very decent thriller, but once Paul Greengrass took over for it’s two sequels, it became an entirely new beast. We got action sequences beyond belief, tight thrillers that delivered on all accounts, and Matt Damon was the perfect lead. Then in 2012, we got The Bourne Legacy.
We don’t talk about The Bourne Legacy.
It was a weak, lifeless spin off that did nothing for the franchise and only further proved Jeremy Renner’s blandness. But obviously we couldn’t just leave the franchise on such a low note. Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass teamed up once again to bring this franchise back to it’s original glory…
…And somehow, they fucked it up.
It’s been 10 years since Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) walked away from the agency that trained him to become a deadly weapon. Hoping to draw him out of the shadows, CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) assigns hacker and counterinsurgency expert Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) to find him. Lee suspects that former operative Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) is also looking for him. As she begins tracking the duo, Bourne finds himself back in action battling a sinister network that utilizes terror and technology to maintain unchecked power.
When Paul Greengrass stepped away from the franchise, he stated that he wouldn’t return unless “the right script came along” and I can’t believe for a second that this was the right script. Look, Jason Bourne isn’t necessarily a bad film; it has very decent action sequences, good performances from Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander and Julia Styles, and it still has excellent cinematography, but most of it’s problems lie with this apparently right script. This was the first film in the franchise to have an original concept not adapted from the Robert Ludlum novels, written by Greengrass and Christopher Rouse, and you can seriously tell. I hate to be so insulting to Greengrass, he’s a director that I very much admire; his action technique stands head and shoulder’s above a lot of directors working today, with only a few coming close to matching his precision and enthrallment, but his writing skills in this film are very lacking, for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, there is absolutely no reason why this story needed to be told. I’m not going to get into spoiler territory, but I will say that this film does delve deeper into Bourne’s past, but it’s something we could’ve lived without. The first three films were intriguing and enticing because Bourne knew nothing about himself, and neither did we, and we went on this adventure with him to discover the truth, and when we did, we had that closure. All this film does really is say “Oh there’s another piece of Bourne’s past we don’t know yet.
I mean, it’s not that important, but hey, he can’t remember!”. Again, no spoilers, but there were some poor decisions made with certain characters in this storyline, and a lot of missed opportunities too, not to mention it has a monumentally boring sub-plot that brings the film to a grinding halt every time it’s relevant. And secondly, this is by far the most by-the-numbers Bourne film yet. Bourne avoided being like other franchises in that it didn’t have a check list; when you look at a new Fast and Furious film, you go “Fast cars? Check. Ridiculous action? Check. They won’t stop talking about family? Check. Great, we have a Fast and Furious film”. Bourne wasn’t like that. It was unique in that there wasn’t a cheap and easy way to do it, but that’s exactly what this film is. Underlying secret from Bourne’s past? Check. Grumpy old man who considers Bourne a threat? Check. CIA Agent who doesn’t believe Bourne is totally bad? Check. Vengeful motivations for Bourne to get the job done? Check. It feels like a reshash of Supremacy and Ultimatum mashed into one. Alicia Vikander’s character is just Pamela Landrey, Vincent Cassell’s character is just Karl Urban from Supremacy, Tommy Lee Jones is just every Bourne villain so far, and one spoilery plot point mirrors one from one of the other sequels, to name a few. There’s hardly anything original to it.
Outside of it’s script issues, the action sequences, whilst still good, fail to elicit the same excitement that came from the previous films, and Tommy Lee Jones might as well have been asleep for the entire film, because he was a ridiculously underwhelming villain. Jason Bourne has it’s moments; it’s not a bad or incompetent film, but it has serious script issues that bring the film down and turn it into a crushing disappointment.
Jason Bourne is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!