Jason Bourne lacks an identity. As he fights for supremacy over those who conspire against him, the audience is left with an ultimatum… do we stick or twist on our once beloved hero?
I saw a comment the other day which perfectly summed up my entire Jason Bourne experience. “Aggressive Walking: The Movie” it read, and I couldn’t agree more. Something like 70% of film* is made up of transit shots; scenes showing people moving from one location to another, with neither the audience or the characters really being sure of what’s actually happening.
Aside from the opening chase through the streets of Athens (which had shades of the Tangier chase scene), it felt as though the rest of the film was just a set-up for yet another unanswered question, with Bourne never really being in charge of his own narrative. He has become trapped and no matter how hard he tries to escape the plot just won’t let him.
It’s this disjointedness that is to blame for perhaps the film’s biggest flaw, too – it’s lack of a signature Bourne moment. Over the years the Bourne films have become blueprints of how to create the ultimate action thriller, with the makeup of James Bond even changing to keep up with this new in-your-face appeal.
This time however we’re forced to endure a more considered approach, with an older Bourne being sought out by former CIA accomplice, Nikki Parsons (Julia Stiles), with classified information that confirms a connection between his late father and the Treadstone program. 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 be the one who finally brings him in.
The backdrop of this story chooses to focus on cyber stalking and surveillance, with not-so-subtle nods to Edward Snowden and Julian Assange helping reaffirm the ‘Us vs. Them’ atmosphere. While the film does its best to drum up society’s fears of living in a big brother state, it ultimately falls short with the hacking scenes being given the now clichéd Hollywood treatment. Enhance.
This adds to the confusion with the film’s pacing, which is remarkably off key. A small example of what I’m talking surrounds the entire ‘Deep Dream’ / CIA subplot which offers nothing to the film except for setting up the final showdown. A showdown which sees Bourne facing off against an Asset (played here by Vincent Cassel) with an axe to grind, as it’s revealed his decision to reveal Treadstone left more than a few active agents compromised.
In what is Matt Damon’s first appearance as Jason Bourne in nine years however, the fight sequences have been heavily watered down. Even his dialogue has taken a beating, with something like just 25 lines being uttered throughout the entire film. This helps Damon illustrate his caliber as an actor however, as he is forced to showcase his physical acting prowess instead.
Unfortunately, the character that we have grown to know and love doesn’t quite connect this time around, as your left wondering when this entire episode will be over.
*not an exact figure