The fifth installment in the Jason Bourne franchise (The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum and The Bourne Legacy), titled after the eponymous character, released this week in cinemas after a long, long wait. Franchise star Matt Damon returns along with the director of the 2nd and 3rd films, Paul Greengrass, to try and recreate the magic of the trilogy that redefined the spy genre.
Jason Bourne is in Greece, trying to hide from the US government and keep living. His old friend and one-time flame, Nicolette “Nicky” Parsons (Julia Stiles), who is also a fugitive, is working with a man called Dassault and gets her hands on some secret files that can be potentially explosive. The CIA, led by its new Director, Mr. Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and cybersecurity expert Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), gets on Nicky’s tail in order to find her as well as Bourne. From there, it’s a relentless cat-and-mouse game between Bourne and the CIA, with the action criss-crossing countries and continents in much the same way as is standard for the franchise.
I was one of those who had been yearning for a Damon-starrer Bourne movie ever since I’d watched the original trilogy. The anticipation had been sky-high and truth be told, the team behind the film has done a fair bit of work in bringing back the things that worked the first time round. But therein lies the problem! We are provided with quite a few action sequences that grip you by the lapel and force you to sit up and take notice. Starting with the Athens riots set-piece featured in the trailer, we are mentally transported back in time to when bone-crunching, “asset,” secret program, hand-held shaky camera work and at-times hard-to-follow action were the norm. The CIA still has its good guys and bad guys and, in the wake of the rise of tech giants like Google and Facebook, not to say the Snowden revelations, the game has been updated to stay relevant. But while the action is amazing as usual, and the franchise’s traditional background score is used to full effect to maximize its potential and create nostalgia value, a lot of the story feels cliched. The new thing here, or what the movie tried to sell us right from the trailers, was that Bourne’s storyline here would get the closure that the original trilogy failed to provide. To that end, we are provided a flashback of the climax of Ultimatum right in the beginning of the film. We also have a nice twist to the whole shenanigan that ties in nicely with Bourne’s past. But a few glaring loopholes remain that I can’t discuss here without spoiling the movie for you. And that would be sacrilegious, wouldn’t it?
Matt Damon is once again top-notch as the master spy/assassin. Tommy Lee Jones is more of a case of a big-name star’s talents being wasted, truth be told. Vincent Cassel as the unnamed “asset” was also so-so, with both him and Lee Jones’ characters being underdeveloped. But the one actor whose star stands to gain the most is Alicia Vikander. The Swedish actress has steadily climbed the charts of the Hollywood A-list through a host of stupendous performances over the last couple of years or so and her turn here as the cybersecurity agent and one of the major plot drivers gives her a lot of room to show off her skills. That she has perhaps the second-most screen time after Damon only helps her case. The cinematography and the background music, as I already mentioned, will make you want to watch your DVDs of the trilogy again, and I say that in a positive way. The screenplay could have been a tad better though. The movie’s climax sort of left things open-ended, providing wriggling space to the crew and the studio to make another if this one makes its mark at the box office.
All in all, Jason Bourne is a quality addition to the Bourne saga and an enjoyable watch for its fans, if a little disappointing. Those who didn’t like the tone or camera work of the original trilogy won’t be quite sold on this either.
Jason Bourne is Rated U/A and is 123 minutes long. It is now playing in cinemas.
Rating : 3.5/5.
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