Bourne heavy on action, lacking plot

By Thomas Simpson

After the underwhelming disappointment that was The Bourne Legacy, Matt Damon returns as super killer Jason Bourne to punch and shoot his way across Europe on a one-man mission to find the truth. Although it’s nice to see Damon back in the role, along with Paul Greengrass in the director’s chair, Jason Bourne is an anticlimactic entry to the series that mirrors the frenetic energy of earlier films while offering nothing new.

With his memory intact, Bourne finds himself traveling the world and making a living by battering rivals in underground fight clubs. Meanwhile, former Treadstone logistics technician Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) hacks into the CIA mainframe with the aim of exposing their black ops programs. When she uncovers information relating to Bourne and his father’s involvement in Treadstone, she tracks him down offering him the chance to delve deeper into his past and get some much-needed closure, and revenge.

The action is as epic as you would come to expect from the series; unfortunately, it all feels a bit stale. While the original trilogy was influential to the genre, action movies have moved on while Bourne offers much of the same. That’s not to criticize the set pieces themselves. The choreography is excellent and the carnage hard hitting. Greengrass’s shaky cam can get a little distracting at times making it difficult to invest in the encounters as we’re presented with a flurry of cuts and juddering camera work.

Bourne’s main adversary behind the scenes is CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) who is hell-bent on protecting the program by taking out Bourne. It’s a cold and stoic performance by Jones, one which matches the film’s tone. A more stimulating villain can be found in Vincent Cassel’s assassin simply known as The Asset. He’s ruthless and calculating, thinking nothing of murdering someone who happens to be in his way. He’s a great adversary for Bourne, with Damon once again excellent in the role. The third act presents a cataclysmic climax involving a brutal battle between the two warriors.

Jason Bourne is a full on assault, a well-paced thriller that delivers plenty of spectacle that should ward off boredom. Except it doesn’t. The convoluted story, including a pointless subplot, interrupts the pacing and creates obstacles in the fast-paced narrative. It isn’t a bad film, and although it’s an improvement on The Bourne Legacy, it never feels as important as it should. The final product is a pleasurable film, however one that becomes quickly forgettable and in retrospect frustrating. In many ways it feels like a missed opportunity to kick-start the franchise into gear but, as always, it ends with enough loose threads to leave room for a sequel should Bourne return. I’m hoping he does by bringing something new to the table.

Thomas Simpson is a writer and filmmaker based in Glasgow, U.K. Find him on Twitter: @Simmy41.

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