REVIEW: Jason Bourne

1 08 2016

As the Hollywood star machine continues to run on empty, feeding in no-name indie stars hungry for a career boost that can increase their international value to fund passion projects, we probably have to get used to a new cliché known as the “distinguished gray.” These films are third, fourth or maybe even fifth installments of long-running – primarily action – franchises which would rather turn the age of their leading men into a pivotal plot point than invest the energy to recast, reboot or otherwise retool the series. (And yes, I say men because seniority is generally a negative attribute for women over 40.)

Jason Bourne” ditches whatever the heck Jeremy Renner’s spinoff was and resurrects the titular character with Matt Damon, now pushing 46 and not attempting to hide those light streaks of hair near his ears. He’s in hardbody shape, though more out of necessity for the character and less out of an unspoken invocation to gawk at his figure. Bourne seems more tired and weary than his formerly spry, curious demeanor in the original trilogy.

In a sense, can anyone blame him? In this iteration of “Jason Bourne,” the world outside the frame seems to weigh heavier on the proceedings than ever before. The CIA must deal not only with the post-Snowden scrutiny of their surveillance behemoth but also with the whims of capricious Silicon Valley tech magnates, whose often radical views pushing for a more open society pose a threat to the agency’s very existence. No wonder Bourne seems content to bare-knuckle box in the sandy outskirts of Athens like Daniel Craig’s James Bond luxuriated in womanizing and heavy drinking in “Skyfall.”

Matt Damon as Jason Bourne

The last Damon/Greengrass “Bourne” flick, which landed nearly a decade prior to “Jason Bourne,” seemed to provide closure on all the tormented CIA programs that spawned the amnesiac assassin (while also providing a tantalizing open door upon exiting). It’s a little odd when Julia Stiles’ Nicky Parsons comes in from the cold with a new revelation for Bourne – there’s drama that no one thought to investigate involving his father! The unexamined plot point seems like a slim reed upon which to hang the rejuvenation of the “Bourne” series.

The question of “why?” is the biggest hurdle for “Jason Bourne,” and neither Damon nor Greengrass provide a particularly satisfying answer. Intellectual property management or personal pride, the two likeliest motivators, hardly make for a thrilling experience on par with the expertly spliced suspense of the original films. “Jason Bourne” amounts to little more than meaningless montages of furious violence and human destruction with sound and image spliced tgoether like an video essay supercut. It’s fitting that Bourne speaks so noticeably little in the film. He, like the film, has nothing to say. C2stars

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