Jason Bourne

 photo jason_bourne_ver2_zpsmypfjyrl.jpg photo starrating-2stars.jpgThe current season has another month to go, but I’d like to dub the preceding 3 months as “The Summer of the Blah Blockbuster”: X-Men: Apocalypse, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Independence Day: Resurgence, Ghostbusters, and Star Trek Beyond. All big budget productions that made far less than their hefty price tags prescribed. The audience numbers have been underwhelming. To be fair, not all cinematic product is created equal. I found the latest  X-Men enjoyable, but I still wouldn’t call it necessary viewing unless you’re an X-Men completist. And that’s true of all of these releases. Other than an opportunity to make money, their stories lack a reason to exist. Did we need this film? The answer is no in every case. Into this atmosphere we get the creatively titled Jason Bourne. It feels right at home in the prevailing Hollywood climate.

Jason Bourne is the fifth installment of the Bourne series. This is a direct sequel to The Bourne Ultimatum, the third chapter and the last to feature Matt Damon. You’d think the previous star Jeremy Renner might warrant a cameo, but no such luck. Paul Greengrass is back directing, making this is third venture into the Bourne franchise. I concede that recounting all these facts is kind of boring to read, but writing about such a workmanlike movie almost demands it.

The story picks up 10 years after the events of The Bourne Ultimatum. Jason Bourne is hiding out in Greece and has taken up illegal brawling. This is a good time to note that Matt Damon is seen knocking a big guy out in one punch and it’s the most clearly shot action scene in the whole picture. Anyway, the former CIA assassin and recovering amnesiac is finally starting to remember who he is. Ex-CIA agent Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) has discovered some distressing information and has decided to contact Bourne with the info.  Bourne seeks to find out the truth behind the death of his father, Richard Webb (Gregg Henry). Meanwhile CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and CIA agent Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) aren’t happy with these developments. They are implementing a new program aimed at taking Jason Bourne down.

Jason Bourne is a somber thriller filled with dispassionate people doing very serious things. There’s some added nonsense about a Las Vegas tech convention with actor Riz Ahmed. He plays the CEO & Founder of a social networking app called Deep Dream. The CIA wants to spy on everyone through a back door surveillance program dubbed Operation Iron Hand. I couldn’t even summon up the energy to even give a care about this story tangent. I only mention it because actor Riz Ahmed was also in Nightcrawler and it’s another chance to promote the fine actor’s work in that film. At least his tech tycoon registers a little personality. None of the other actors express much emotion. No one even cracks a smile. Perhaps with Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones and Vincent Cassel, the stoicism is a bit more expected. However Alicia Vikander was such an effervescent presence in The Danish Girl. Although I admit she was also brilliant as a robot in Ex Machina. I’m just not sure why she was told to act like one here.

What follows is a lot of perfunctory chase sequences. We get shaky cam photography of chaotic movement edited with a hacksaw. Ladies and gentlemen, I present an entire feature made up of fast cutting. No scene lingers for more than 3 seconds before proceeding to the next shot. The ADHD cinematography can be frustrating. “Stop I want to get off!” I almost screamed, like right there out loud in the theater. Two people simply have a quiet conversation and the camera refuses to remain still – a nervous bundle of energy, constantly moving. Ok so at times it can be exhilarating as well. The camera jerks and dives to thrilling effect during a climactic fight. The motion gives the feeling of actually being physically hit before descending into a blurry mishmash where the human combatants are no longer discernible. Director Paul Greengrass is known for favoring this technique. He’s had much success in the past (United 93, Captain Phillips), but the plot developments aren’t memorable this time around. We’re just going through the motions.  In the end, I didn’t hate this movie. It’s too competent to be egregious. The effort fuses high production values with well choreographed action. Jason Bourne isn’t good, but it’s significant because it exemplifies how this kind of entertainment is now available on TV for free.

07-28-16

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11 Responses to “Jason Bourne”

  1. Laughed pretty good at the “…Matt Damon is seen knocking a big guy out in one punch and it’s the most clearly shot action scene in the whole picture.” It’s so true though! Most of the action is frustratingly hard to follow. I think Greengrass does too much at times (didn’t love the style in Captain Phillips), but he’s used it to good-to-great effect in the 2nd and 3rd movies. Not so here.

    Leaning towards a B-/C+, my take will come in a day or so.

    P.S. Oh, and agree about Ahmed. Was so good supporting Jake in Nightcrawler, and is doing a bang up job in The Night Of if you haven’t see that yet on HBO.

    • I’ll have to check The Night Of out. Riz Ahmed is rising star. He’ll also appear in the first of the Star Wars anthology series, Rogue One this December.

      I enjoyed the first 3 in this series. The Bourne Ultimatum in particular was a standout. If I had to give Jason Bourne a letter grade, it would be a C.

  2. Well, as someone sitting on the outside I can safely say now I have no desire to see Matt “Average Guy” Damon brood his way through another story that, as you say, we really did not need. What’s up with 2016, huh? Mediocre would almost be a compliment if we’re talking major tent pole releases. I got a lot out of things that have otherwise taken a beating (Ghostbusters; Star Trek: Beyond) but I’ll freely admit neither of those were as good as they could/should have been. Thanks for helping me save money again here

  3. Agreed!! For me it was Riz Ahmed & Vincent Cassel.. Jackson above is so right.. I was going to cancel HBO after GOT was over..but Ahmed has got me hooked on The Night of.. he’s brilliant in it. I guess the part I loved best was that there was actual stunt/action scenes here without CGI..i’m soooo over CGI everything at the moment!! hahahahaa 😀

  4. I totally agree that this is “The Summer of the Blah Blockbuster”. What a summer filled with one disappointment after another. You’re right that these stories lack a reason to exist. The boxing scene is the most clear scene and probably one of the least believable. Why the heck would Bourne take up boxing? Doesn’t seem to make much sense considering he has always been reluctant to dispense violence. Everything with the dad felt so shoehorned in. I grew tired of all the shaky cam as well, but I can’t deny how thrilling the final car chase and fight were. My god they were intense. I feel very “meh” about the whole thing. Like you I find it too competent to be egregious, although it doesn’t do much for me either. Very skippable.

  5. Ok. I have a headache. I do not like these movies that dangle a camera around for 2 hours. It’s dizzying and annoying. 2 stars.

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