Reviewer:   Jim "JR" Rutkowski
Directed by:
Paul Greengrass
Written by:
Paul Greengrass & Christopher Rouse. Based on characters created by Robert Ludlum
Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander
Length:   123 minutes
Released:   072916
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief strong language
“The cast looks bored, the set-pieces are dull, and the script is perfunctory, making one wonder exactly why Bourne needed to return..."

2007’s “The Bourne Ultimatum” was an top notch finale in the Jason Bourne saga, rewarding faithful viewers with a sense of closure and plenty of heated action, giving star Matt Damon (2015s The Martian) another reason to pummel enemies and evade capture. Another chapter wasn’t necessary, and after a problematic spin-off (2012’s “The Bourne Legacy”), the franchise is back up and running with “Jason Bourne.” There was a nine year wait for the fourth installment of this disoriented spy saga, and such substantial patience isn’t rewarded. “Jason Bourne” is a surprisingly leaden picture that’s content to retread instead of innovate, conscious of audience expectation when it comes to the titular character stalking and silencing those out to kill him. All this time to cook a full cinematic meal, and director/co-writer Paul Greengrass insists on reheating leftovers.

CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones, 2007's No Country For Old Men) is preparing to pact with tech tycoon Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed) on a project that would allow the government free rein to spy on its citizens anywhere they hide. Looking to protect the plan, Dewey’s interests are run by subordinate Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander, 2015's Ex Machina), who’s trying to make her mark on the agency. Emerging from the shadows is Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), who’s now a shell of a man, learning about his father’s participation in Operation Treadstone, which complicates his memories of service. Evading capture while pursued by rival assassin Asset (Vincent Cassel), Bourne has plans to reach Dewey, but has trouble managing public appearances. With government forces in hot pursuit around the globe, Bourne tries to remain incognito as he embarks on the fight of his life, once again hungry for closure.

With a near-decade gap between installments, it’s surprising to watch “Jason Bourne” regurgitate plot points already exercised in full throughout the last three pictures. Once again, there’s a secretive black ops organization looking to prevent exposure as they dabble in illegalities. Once again, there’s a rival assassin ordered into battle, with Asset personally tied to Bourne’s past. Once again, Bourne is a lone man on the move, using espionage skills to remain one step ahead of the U.S. Government. The screenplay tries to Sharpie over sell-by dates, but it doesn’t take long before staleness sets in, especially when most of “Jason Bourne” consists of actors making pained faces while staring at screens, playing a tedious game of “Where’s Bourne?” as they attempt to track his movements all over the globe, with the new film jumping from Greece to London to Las Vegas to provide a worldwide hunt.

Especially after the conclusion of “Ultimatum,” “Jason Bourne” could’ve gone anywhere narratively, but Greengrass and co-writer Christopher Rouse immediately return to the question of Treadstone, working to refresh Bourne’s back story by adding a Sins of the Father knot in the noose. Depleted of suspense in the last picture, a revival of Treadstone issues offers little motivation for the characters, with government types once again engaging in covert business, while Bourne is determined to stop them. Adding a parent to the mix doesn’t energize “Jason Bourne,” doing little to disrupt the déja vu that clouds the film from frame one, while commentary on invasive surveillance methods isn’t pronounced in the usual Greengrass-ian manner, mostly introduced to provide ways for Bourne to keep tabs on Dewey and his goons. There really should be more to the movie, graduating Bourne to the next stage of his heroism or psychological unraveling, but the production lacks dramatic experimentation, going through the motions with a distinct rinse, lather, repeat approach.

After dodging bullets and trackers throughout the picture, the grand finale takes Bourne to Las Vegas, where he tears up The Strip to bring his enemies to justice. A stickler for realism, Greengrass indulges his inner-Micheal Bay with the sequence, showing hilarious disregard for the city’s extensive security network, while a climatic chase has a SWAT vehicle clearing cars off the road like a shovel pushing through snow, allowing physics to a chance to nap. Greengrass cranks up the noise and his customary use of shaky-cam and blitzkrieg editing, laboring to give “Jason Bourne” proper blockbuster punctuation, but it’s not enough to shake the effort out of its slumber. The cast looks bored here, the set-pieces are dull, and the script is perfunctory, making one wonder exactly why Bourne needed to return to multiplexes that were doing just fine without him.

JASON BOURNE  ©  2016 Universal Pictures
All Rights Reserved

Review © 2016 Alternate Reality, Inc.



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