Jason Bourne Review

Kyle Tien Aug 2016

Jason Bourne, no literally, there are no more fancy titles like “Supremacy” or “Ultimatum”, the actual name of this movie is “Jason Bourne” (very creative).

Technically the fifth installment of the Bourne series (although nobody really remembers the Jeremy Renner one so let's just call this the fourth movie), Damon and Greengrass reunite once again. In this movie, Bourne is on the run from the government after being brought into the spotlight by Nicky (Julia Stiles). Possessing sensitive government files, the CIA recruits hacker Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander, you know, from the Danish Girl) to hunt Bourne down.

Overall I say is was a good movie and an enjoyable time. All the actors were solid and the action was great. Tommy Lee Jones as CIA director Robert Dewey, as always, gave a realistic performance and just further solidifies his archetype as a serious man in a suit.

Alicia Vikander also took the spotlight as the cool CIA hacker. She was smart, competent and overall fun to watch since even to the very end her motives were mysterious.

Notably, I left out Matt Damon himself. This is not a jab at Damon himself, it’s just in this particular Bourne movie, which is literally called Jason Bourne, they don’t focus on Bourne all too much. In fact, in this movie, Matt Damon only had 45 lines to say. So was his character communicated through actions? Well, he mostly fought a lot, and while that is cool, it does not advance his character. Did he use those 45 lines wisely? Again, most of the time he was just asking questions, like “What has that got to do with me?” and “Watching me?”. So Damon didn’t really have a chance to show off his acting chops.

And that tends to be the main problem with this movie. It’s a Bourne movie, and we’ve seen this movie before. Bourne is chased by a room full of CIA agents on computers. Bourne beats a lot of people up, kills a few “assets” and then there is a car chase. Pretty formulaic, but their reasoning being if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. These are still good movies, but still, it is getting kind of old.

   Always I judge a sequel on what new things it brings to the table. If a sequel is a blatant copy then I will have to give it a lower rating, even if it’s a good movie. All of the Bourne movies rhyme, in fact, they all sound familiar to any other spy movie. Spy movies in general, the genre is pretty formulaic. One spy is good at everything, especially hand to hand combat is fighting against the government. And the thing is we all know the story by now.

   The thing that set Bourne apart was that he had amnesia. It was an interesting spectacle in the first movie for sure, since there is something intriguing about watching a lethal weapon walk around without knowing it’s a lethal weapon. However that all stopped by the third movie, in which Bourne learned everything there was to learn about himself (and took down the government).

In the latest rendition of the Bourne movie, Bourne already knows everything there is to know about himself. In fact, the only new information we gain from this movie is a superficial family fact. There is no character development in this movie.

Bourne is thrust into a situation against his will, and by the end of the movie doesn’t really have much more of a purpose than he did in the beginning. It wouldn’t actually be too surprising to see him return to his life of illicit boxing in the after credits of this movie.

   We are introduced to, albeit, interesting supporting characters and a rather dull subplot delving into the themes freedom vs security, but we barely see any Bourne, the main character of the movie, and the literal title of the movie. We did get to see Bourne kick a lot of butt, but again, that is a prerequisite to any spy movie these days. We have seen action before, and the only thing different is the shaky handheld cam (which I am not a big fan of). Jason Bourne as a character remains as simplistic as any other spy, which is to say, disappointing. The subtitles of this movie read “You know his name”, but by the end of the movie, that's all we know.

   The other thing that I mentioned previously that I was not fond of was the subplot that they shoved into this movie. In this movie, there is a corporation, modeled after a Silicon Valley startup in every way, that is essentially a social media company that contains people's sensitive information.

   The movie actively discusses this theme and its consequences. However, I feel that this topic is overused. Although I give them points for choosing a contemporary theme, this idea has been debated to death, and I’m frankly tired of hearing it.

   And that is what this movie suffers from the most. It’s unoriginal. We’ve seen the action, we’ve seen the themes, we’ve seen Jason Bourne three times before this (yes three). Overall I can only give a 7.9 to a good but unoriginal movie (the car chase scene was original though).

   What I would do to change it would be to explore more of Jason Bourne as a character. Maybe dig deeper into his motivations so he can live a meaningful life after the movie. The movie focuses too much on side plots and other characters. It should focus more on the main character and the title of the movie.

The other thing was Bourne didn’t get a chance to talk much since there was nobody to talk to (and Bourne just isn’t the type of character who writes a diary or talks to himself). A simple way to fix that was already presented and tested. In the first movie, Bourne was followed by Marie, who he could exposition his heart out to. If only Bourne had a companion to follow him around (preferably of the female type since this movie was also lacking in relationships), he could explain what he was feeling to the audience so we didn’t have to guess, and maybe advance his character through more than 45 lines of dialogue.