Hot Take: Action overload! The first hour is 90% action and 10% plot. By the time the movie settles in and gets good, you’re too worn out. Maybe I’m just getting old or maybe not much really happens here.
Having never seen a movie in the Bourne franchise makes me an outsider when discussing the appeal of Jason Bourne. However, when I say Jason Bourne feels all too familiar, I’m not referring to the fact that it is the fifth installment in the Bourne franchise. Unfortunately, all the hyperkinetic action that takes place in the film (which is actually some pretty impressive action, by the way) can’t hide the fact that Jason Bourne doesn’t really have anything fresh to offer.
It’s an interesting dichotomy. On one hand, you have a breakneck, frenetic action flick featuring a familiar character yet, here I am experiencing the character for the first time and it feels like I’ve seen it all before. Putting myself in the shoes of a fan of the franchise, I’m not sure if that would be a welcoming familiarity or tired and pointless. I’d lean toward the tired and pointless argument because as the film finally picks up some interesting plot points in the second half, it becomes predictable.
What you would be coming for in Jason Bourne is the action. The shaky-cam cinematography adds an element of authenticity to the footage and there are is a marquee car chase through the streets of Las Vegas that stands out as one of the better car chases in recent memory. While the second half waters down the action-to-plot ratio, it would be safe to say this movie is 85% action and 15% plot. You’d be hard pressed to find more than 15 minutes of plot in this 123 minute action thriller. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but, at times, it feels like you could use a break.
The addition of Alicia Vikander to the cast as Heather Lee, the head of the CIA Cyber Ops Division, is a good one. She is present in the majority of the plot-driven scenes and proves to continue to be one of the rising stars of Hollywood. Matt Damon, of course, reprises his role as Bourne. Damon gives a solid, believable performance which shouldn’t come as a huge surprise considering it’s not his first rodeo. The others are serviceable but nothing worth going out of your way to mention. (The paychecks will still cash, don’t worry.)
At its core though, it’s hard to really get a sense of why Jason Bourne is such a threat to national security. It seems like if they just left him alone, he probably wouldn’t bother anyone anymore. There’s a belief from those trying to “bring him back in” that Bourne is a patriot at heart. Yet those trying to bring out that sense of patriotism don’t really seem to be in it for anyone other than themselves. A lot of other films have done a much better job of blurring the lines between good and bad than Jason Bourne does. The only blurred line with this movie is the one between a good movie and a bad movie as the lasted Bourne flick rests firmly in the middle.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
Between Vikander and Brie Larson, there is a lot of promise in female actresses under 30. This isn’t a movie where acting matters much but Vikander classes up the pic with a solid performance.
- That Car Chase Scene In Vegas
Car chases are an action film staple and the Bourne series has a few good ones. (I haven’t seen the movies but I’ve been treated to a few YouTube clips of some of the car chases of previous films.) The Vegas car chase scene in Jason Bourne is one of the best of 2016, if not the best.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Tommy Lee Jones
Jones’ character didn’t seem like a new one to the series but, after looking into the history of the franchise, Jones is the latest CIA higher up screwing over Bourne for what sometimes seems like it is being done just for kicks. Jones isn’t any different as the villain in this movie than he is in most other times he’s appeared as the bad guy.
- Callousness Toward Life
Frequently in action films such as Jason Bourne, there is death and violence. In this film, the body count rises rather quickly and, at times, it feels to rise unnecessarily, other than to show how awful a character is without really spending much time developing a character. It’s a shortcut. It’s unnecessary. It makes for a lesser quality film.