Jason Bourne (2016) Review: Bourne. Again.
Last year, if you paid any attention to the movies, you might have noticed quite a few spy movies came out. You had new spies in ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ and ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E’, and all the old guys came out to play like James Bond and Ethan Hunt. Someone it seems wasn’t invited to the party. Jason Bourne. I didn’t mind this of course, having never seen a Bourne movie, but it was a notable absence. There’s no mystery as to the why the spy is making a comeback of course. In this day and age of Snowden, where our information is readily available to the discretionary powers that be, movies about surveillance tap right into the heart of what’s happening today.
‘Jason Bourne’ is no different. The movie of course follows Jason Bourne. A man trained to be the ultimate super spy by the CIA. After having exposed the secret agency’s secrets out to the world, Jason goes into hiding. He makes his money in underground street fights, against guys he can knock out with one punch. However, when someone from Jason’s past brings him information that the world needs to know about, he must decide to either turn a blind eye, or get back in the game. He probably gets back into the game though cause, that’d be a real short movie otherwise.
Really ‘Jason Bourne’ follows a very classic resurgent hero story. The protagonist is brought back into the old fray to once more face his old foes, and may not make it out alive this time. As with those movies though, the first act inevitably drags. You have to wait for the story to be ready for the Bourne to return. That means sitting through set up, exposition, people walking through corridors, and scenes that fail to compel. Never has working at the CIA looked so ridiculously banal.
The movie could skate by on being purely about the action, but instead, it decides to have a message. The story involves Bourne exposing the CIA for their blatant disregard for personal privacy, in the name of national security. To see the inspiration for this, check out the daily news. The movie does fairly well with this, and even goes so far as to show the messy grey areas of the subject. I liked that the movie could have been simply good vs. evil, but instead it presents the issue as the layered and complex one that it is.Once Bourne comes back though, the movie really picks up. It was as if Jason Bourne was the adrenaline shot to the sedated husk that was this movie. Last week, I wrote about how ‘Star Trek Beyond’ had a sense of intelligence behind it’s scenes and ‘Jason Bourne’ continues that streak. This movie has a remarkable sense of continuity with it’s action sequences. The action is so dense and complex, with many moving parts, at a very brisk pace, but never once will you be lost as to what’s happening. The scenes then have a greater impact, and are immensely satisfying to watch.
I should also mention that while Matt Damon is engaging as Bourne, the real standout in this film is Alicia Vikander. Her performance as the young, ruthless and manipulative CIA official is probably the saving grace of those earlier less compelling scenes. Although considering her role in Ex-Machina is eerily similar, she may be in danger of being typecast.Regarding Bourne himself though, I can’t speak to the characters evolution from the previous films, as I’ve yet to see them. In this film though, I felt it did a good job with the resurgent hero archetype. In fact, the dull first act may in fact have been wholly intentional. By creating a sense of tedious monotony for the audience, and then switching it to the more satisfying action and thought provoking plot, you’re placed in the mind-frame of the main character. The way the audience feels is exactly the way the character of Bourne develops. Seduced into the far more rewarding life of a super spy, away from the meaningless life of a survivor.
As my first foray into the world of Jason Bourne, I have to say I was satisfied by the experience. Those wondering if the movie is incomprehensible to the uninitiated, it’s not. The movie has a mystery to it that ties into the previous iterations of the franchise, but it’s largely secondary to the main plot. By itself this movie is a classic spy thriller, chock full of exciting action as the main course, with a side of thought provoking undertones. It’s a definite Big Screen Watch.
Rating: Big Screen Watch