Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass are back to give us another chapter in the Bourne franchise, which seemingly has gotten better with each passing movie (minus the dreadful spinoff The Bourne Legacy). Nine years have passed since we last saw Jason Bourne, but he’s back thanks to a clever story that brings him from out of the shadows. Simply titled Jason Bourne, the latest entry in the Bourne saga is another excellent, globetrotting, cat-and-mouse game full of brutish action with some bureaucratic deception sprinkled on top.
Several years after his disappearance at the conclusion of The Bourne Ultimatum, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) unexpectedly resurfaces at a time when the world is faced with unprecedented instability. At the same time, a new program, Ironhand, has been created to hunt him down while he is still trying to find all the answers to his past and family.
Jason Bourne has the most straightforward plot in the franchise, but it makes sense given how the threat is now more personal than ever for the amnesic assassin. Cyberspace sets the story in motion as the infamous Edward Snowden hack is echoed early on, making us question just how private our personal data really is. And thanks to Bourne’s old friend, Nicky Parsons (played by the wonderful Julia Stiles), Bourne’s identity crisis feels foggier than what we were led to believe at the conclusion of The Bourne Ultimatum. Sure, The Bourne Ultimatum ended with a fitting resolution, but this new entry gives us more clarity to the overall character arc of Bourne and the fragmented pieces of his past. In the opening scene, Bourne dreams of a vague memory that he can’t quite recollect. Despite taking down the men behind Treadstone, he’s still reminded that everything is not so peachy with the past continuing to haunt him.
Matt Damon is back and as good as ever as the titular character. With fewer lines of dialogue, Damon brings more tranquility to Bourne. Whether knocking out a guy with one punch or causing rampant vehicular destruction, you can tell that Bourne has simply had enough and would rather have his actions speak louder than words this time around. The rest of the cast for Jason Bourne is almost entirely new to the franchise and it’s solid. Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina), a cybersecurity analyst trying to connect the dots, brings a new role to the franchise that feels relevant given today’s current events. Tommy Lee Jones (No Country for Old Men) has fun filling the shoes of David Strathairn from Ultimatum. As the Director of the CIA he is the man pulling the strings from behind the scenes. Vincent Cassel (Ocean’s Eleven) plays a menacing French assassin hired to take down Bourne once and for all. Never has Bourne felt so equally matched by a gun for hire as with Cassel’s character, who always seems to be one step ahead of him. And Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler) continues to add more prolific work to his young, promising career in his limited, though admirable, role as CEO of a company in Silicon Valley.
The Bourne franchise is mostly known for delivering memorable action sequences. Few people know how to set the stage for high-octane action like Greengrass, director of Ultimatum and The Bourne Supremacy. With a visceral, engrossing vision, Greengrass sets up action piece after action piece as if each sequence tries to one-up the previous one. By way of a shaky camera (a Greengrass specialty), the hand-to-hand combat is brutal and brings us in close to the action. As with every other Bourne movie, anything within range of Jason’s grasp can be used as a weapon just as effectively as he would use a gun. And the chase sequences, a staple in every Bourne movie, are an absolute marvel to behold. An exhilarating bike chase through the streets of a city-wide riot never lets up while a car chase sequence tops every previous chase sequence we’ve seen before in the franchise. And without spoiling anything, simply put, the Las Vegas strip has seen better days.
Audiences haven’t been given a sustainable action hero to get behind in recent memory. Sure, James Bond and Ethan Hunt tried filling the void, but both of their latest entries weren’t exactly robust. While this fourth entry into the Bourne franchise doesn’t top The Bourne Ultimatum, it is still a superlative action thriller marking the worthwhile return of a character we’ve all come to know and love.
Welcome back, Jason Bourne. You were sorely missed.