Note: I will not be including or mentioning Tony Gilroy’s The Bourne Legacy (2012) in this review, as it is not involved in the Jason Bourne story. In fact, Jason Bourne is only referenced once throughout the whole film, the rest is about the film’s main protagonist Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner). The film is a spin off, not a direct sequel to The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) . If you would like to see more of the Bourne “lore”, then The Bourne Legacy is a great film to watch. It’s action, story, and set pieces are some of the best in the franchise.
In 1980, novelist Robert Ludlum (1927-2001), wrote The Bourne Identity (1980), six years later it spawned a sequel, The Bourne Supremacy (1986). Less than two years later, ABC and Warner Bros. Television produced a mini series based off of Ludlum’s classic spy thriller. Finally, in 1990, Ludlum concluded the Bourne story with The Bourne Ultimatum (1990).This was the last Bourne novel written by Ludlum, and after his death in 2001, Matt Damon starred in the film adaption of Ludlum’s first novel, The Bourne Identity (2002). Later, he also starred in two sequels, in The Bourne Supremacy (2004), and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). Now, after almost a decade after its predecessor released in theaters, the long awaited sequel to the Jason Bourne story is finally here. Unfortunately, a long awaited sequel is usually expected to outdo its previous entries, Jason Bourne (2016) does not.
After exposing Operation Black Briar in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) and disappearing in the East River, Jason Bourne recovers from his amnesia that has followed him throughout the tetralogy. He remembers his name, David Webb and what he has done. But after years of being in isolation and living in the shadows, an old “friend” arrives to inform him of a new program, Ironhand. The current director of the CIA Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and head of the CIA’s cyber ops division Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) are newly introduced characters to the Bourne franchise. They are two of the three antagonists in pursuit of Jason. But every Bourne movie has its assassin that is sent after Jason. After all, that’s what Jason was once, an assassin.The film introduces the Asset (Vincent Cassel), an ex-BlackBriar assassin that was exposed while undercover in the aftermath of The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). After being captured and tortured, the Asset returned to discover what the cause of his pain was, Jason, which causes him to have a personal vendetta against him while on his mission to “tie up the loose end”. Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) returns once again in the series to help Jason uncover his past. But Bourne knows the past cannot be changed, only accepted.
This is, in no way, a bad film. In fact, the set pieces should be commended for how intense and fast paced they are. The locations vary throughout, starting with the underground fight clubs in Greece to the Aria hotel in Las Vegas. But similar to another film released during the summer, Star Trek Beyond (2016), the story of the film is not a critical plot point in the Jason Bourne’s story. It’s another mission, that’s all, and if you wanted to know anything about who made the original program, Treadstone, and understand as to why the protagonist’s joined the original program, then this film will tell you. The chase sequences are profound and some of the best parts of the film. The Las Vegas chase is probably one of the most entertaining set pieces, and probably the most expensive part of the whole film, as that scene was actually filmed along the Las Vegas’s Strip, and at the recently closed Riviera hotel and casino. It is an unforgettable sequence that will be one of the most memorable parts of the whole film and possibly the whole franchise. The fight scenes are not the most outstanding parts of the film. The Bourne vs. Desh fight in The Bourne Ultimatum is widely regarded as one of the best fight sequences in the franchise and in all of cinema. Jason Bourne (2016) does not come close to any of its previous entries combat sequences. In fact, one of the most memorable fights in the whole movie is shown in the first ten minutes. Afterward, it is not until the final fight between the Asset and Jason does the choreography stand out. The film relies way too much on shaky cam in some scenes. In fact, it can be difficult to realize what you are seeing sometimes.
The protagonist Jason Bourne (David Webb) actually seems not as important as he was in the previous Bourne films. Most of the people involved in Treadstone and BlackBriar are either dead or have been prosecuted. It just feels unnecessary for him to be there and most of the situations and critical plot points are extremely convenient. Tommy Lee Jones (Robert Dewey) actually is probably the most stand out performance in the whole film, not Matt Damon (Jason Bourne). There’s nothing really intriguing about Jason this time. In each of the films he either was hurt emotionally or physically. Up and coming actor Riz Ahmed, also stars in the film as Aaron Kalloor, but he does not stand out, he’s just “there”. So, unfortunately, the only memorable character throughout the whole movie is the antagonist.
- The Vegas chase sequence is very well choreographed and is very memorable.
- The final confrontation with Jason and The Asset is one of the best Bourne fight scenes in the franchise.
- Tommy Lee Jones is one of the best Bourne villains in a long while.
- Jason is still the hardened fighter that he has always been, always using his environment and using any object found around him others deem nonessential, a tool to defeat his opponent.
- In the finale, Jason is injured by a gunshot wound, this would be compelling if it hadn’t already happened in the previous film, The Bourne Ultimatum. We, the audience, know that he is not going to die. There is no tension whatsoever because he has survived this already. This is an example of many elements in the film that have been “recycled” from the previous entries.
- Jason Bourne has barely any character development in the film, and he feels like more of a side character.
- Most scenes in the trailer were cut, such as the camera shot of the fight between Jason and an underground fighter. One of the coolest parts of the trailer showed him knocking out the fighter with one punch, this shot was completely cut and was instead shown from a different angle, in which you don’t see nearly as much, and it relies on shaky cam. This also applies to the car chase in the finale that goes along the Las Vegas Strip. As they had cut a clip of Jason using the car door while driving to load a shotgun in order to shoot the Asset. This clip was completely cut, it would not be a con if it wasn’t one of the most original ideas the film came up with but later got rid of.
- Too many continuity errors made by the characters.
- This addition to the Bourne film series does not feel as critical to the entire Jason Bourne story.
- No plot holes or cliffhangers are resolved in this film.
- An unnecessary death of a long-running side character whom I will not mention is only put in the film to move the plot forward and give the main protagonist motivation to retaliate against the antagonists. It is more of an excuse to get Jason to start trouble than it is a critical plot point. Way too convenient.
- Unfortunately, Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) is an annoyance throughout the whole film. She interferes throughout every critical point in the film, being one of the most uninteresting characters in the series.
- There is way too much shaky cam, it is sometimes difficult to understand what you are seeing and what just happened on some occasions.
- The most interesting part of the film’s story is finding out who made Treadstone, and what motivated Jason to join the program.
- Riz Ahmed is barely a concern in the film. It seems unnecessary for him to even be involved in the conspiracy.
Final Score: 6.5/10
This isn’t a bad film. But after a ten-year hiatus and a long awaited sequel to the Jason Bourne story, this film had many high expectations but fails to meet them.
Jeffrey M. Weiner
Based on the Characters by:
Tommy Lee Jones
Perfect World Pictures
July 29th, 2016
124 Minutes (2 hours and 4 minutes)