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Review: Jason Bourne – “Shines in the high intensity action scenes”

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Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass reunite once again with renewed energy and an “if it aint broke don’t fix it” attitude. Whilst Jason Bourne shines in the high intensity action scenes, it disappoints with its thin and predictable plot.

It’s been 4 years since Bourne’s last outing in the Bourne Legacy, a film where Greengrass and Damon decided to take step back with disappointing consequences. The director with two Bourne entries Supremacy and Ultimatum to his name takes the helm on its latest iteration. The plot finds Jason Bourne fighting to uncover yet another secret, adding to his already full closet of skeletons. Julia Styles returns as Nicky Parsons, ex CIA analyst who uncovers information about Bourne’s father. As per usual there are some government types who have something to say about that.

As the poster points out we “know his name” but if you are expecting to get to know Jason Bourne any better you will be disappointed, in fact Matt Damon returns with only 45 lines of dialogue throughout. Totally immune to increasing discoveries about his past he is unflinching and unemotional, just continuously driven to uncover the truth.  Tommy Lee Jones adds weight to CIA director Robert Dewey who recruits newcomer and IT whizz Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) to help bring Bourne back.

The threadbare plot is all too familiar. Following the same formulaic beats of the originals a bit too much means it creates an episodic feel. Jason Bourne seems doomed to repeat some sort of Groundhog Day loop where he continually has to uncover another element of his past whilst avoiding capture. There is also an overt social media surveillance subplot which proves an interesting addition but has been explored so many times in other films it feels tired and incidentally doesn’t have any impact on the eventual outcome.

The director boiled down the essence of the series to “violence and the set pieces” and the film at least packs a punch on this promise. There are plenty of car chases, fights and gun battles through various countries culminating in an overlong Las Vegas strip car chase. Whilst these do well to raise the pulse and pace of the film, ultimately there is nothing here that we haven’t seen before.

As Paul Greengrass returns so does the handheld camera style now synonymous with the Franchise. This kinetic realism adds an extra dimension to the action set pieces which are edited with ruthless efficiency. The most impressive example is during a riot scene in Greece, the ‘shaky’ aesthetic reminiscent of news footage of the countries real life protests. However it’s an overused tool. Handheld camera and jump zooms have impact during a car chase but not so much in a CIA office teleconference. It’s these quieter dialogue scenes that reminded me more of TV’s docu-comedys than a spy thriller. Overall whilst this style fits with the surveillance theme, it’s the cinematic equivalent of marmite. Some people will love it and see it as the Bourne franchise returning to its roots, others will end up confused and praying for some more spacial awareness as too what is happening.

As with the previous films, be ready to see a lot of technology and computer screens. This gives a modern technological edge to the film but most of the time these screens spell out the blatantly obvious to the point of hilarity. There might as well be a screensaver with the words “important plot device” constantly bouncing around.

Jason Bourne when compared to Legacy is a return to form. As a standalone film it represents a solid entry to the catalogue. It’s an enjoyable ride with some interesting action scenes. The story is paper thin, managing some slight twists but overall its relentless fight to a disappointingly predictable conclusion.

3.5-out-of-5

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