It’s been nine years since we’ve seen Jason Bourne on screen, and I have to say that I’m glad he’s back. Along with Matt Damon’s return, comes the return of director Paul Greengrass who helmed both The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Greengrass has a real knack for keeping things moving along and, after The Bourne Legacy suffered from some pacing issues, it’s nice to get this return to form.
This time out, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is confronted by an old colleague and again hunted by the CIA branch looking to bring him in – dead or alive. As he begins to uncover secrets about his past, he brings the fight to the CIA and forges an uneasy alliance with a CIA analyst. Globetrotting, impressive set pieces, technical jargon, people staring at computer screens, great actors, fistfights and Bourne impossibly getting the upper hand – this is why we love these movies.
I have seen quite a bit of negativity out there about this movie, saying it’s just “more of the same.” This reaction has confused me quite a bit because as far as I’m concerned, every Bourne film has been “more of the same” since the beginning – with the exception of The Bourne Legacy that brought in different actors and a new director. As far as I’m concerned, these movies have always followed Bourne on a mission to find out something from his past while a government agency tries to track him down in a room full of computers and analysts. I’m just going to come out and say it, I’ve never watched these films for their story. The action is fantastic and the cast is always top-notch. Sometimes that’s all I want out of a good, summer spy flick (a la James Bond). I will say that The Bourne Identity had a little something extra with it being our first introduction into this world. I love all of these movies and even enjoyed Legacy quite a bit, mostly thanks to Jeremy Renner’s performance as Aaron Cross.
To me, this one is no different. It’s got a fantastic cast, this time bringing in heavy-hitters. Tommy Lee Jones takes the CIA head job here, previously portrayed by seasoned actors like Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, Joan Allen, and David Strathairn. The one standout here in the cast is Alicia Vikander as Heather Lee. The 26 year-old actress just won an Oscar for her performance in The Danish Girl, and while I did not see that film, I think she still deserved the award for her haunting performance in last year’s Ex Machina. Vikander’s character really throws in somewhat of a curveball here and, if they keep doing these films, I hope she returns.
Vincent Cassel is our “asset” here hunting Bourne with similar skills; joining the ranks along with Clive Owen, Karl Urban, and Edgar Ramirez. He’s great here, giving a very well-worn history to what has somewhat been a side character in the other films. All of the actors who have played the asset role have given the part a very distinct quality. Clive Owen in Identity was very much the matured assassin trying to talk a little bit of sense into Bourne, something we saw reversed at the end of Ultimatum where Bourne confronts Ramirez’s character on the rooftop. However, my favorite is still Karl Urban in Supremacy. He played the part perfectly and the fact that he was basically an assassin for hire, not just a CIA op, was something a little different. He really had an unstoppable Terminator-like feel to him, being very much a close match for Bourne.
If you have liked any of the previous films, I can’t see how you wouldn’t enjoy this one. I will say it doesn’t quite have the emotional punch at the end that the 2nd and 3rd film do, but man do they have a car chase to make up for it. If I had to rank the films in any kind of order, I would say Supremacy/Ultimatum are tied for first, then Jason Bourne, Bourne Identity and finally Legacy. I can’t really say there’s a weak film in the bunch, but just lesser versions of a significant spy-thriller. My two favorites are really just perfect versions of a Bourne film to me – action, intrigue, great actors, and an emotional payoff. Thankfully, we get about 90% of that here.
Runtime: 2 hours, 3 minutes