“You Know His Name”. After watching our favourite assassin-turned-rogue kick a lot of ass in the previous instalments – you’re damn right we do. But sadly, there’s more that we are familiar with the Bourne franchise, and it’s all to see again in Paul Greengrass’ 2016 return.
Jason Bourne is evidently set a lot later than the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, and Bourne is far away in the middle East kicking ass to lay low, which, if you ask me, isn’t the best method of flying under the radar. Nevertheless, he’s discovered by none other than Nicky Parsons – a former ally(ish) to Bourne’s quest for identity and retribution, and is hell-bent on uncovering the truth about his still-hidden past. And Damon is jacked, this time. Like seriously.
But if you’re anything like me, you’re already noticing some similarities from the previous films and this is very much consistent throughout the entire film. The narrative, once again, is all about discovering the truth and battling against surveillance. There’s a new program, a new asset, a new old, white man in charge – and a new car chase. All in all, Jason Bourne re-uses the formula that we have become too familiar with – to the extent of it being a clone of the former instalments, at times. Bourne’s methods have all been seen before, from stealing an enemy radio to keep one step ahead, to using busy crowds as cover – there’s nothing new; nothing different to shock us. In turn, this makes me wonder how much more is there to know about Bourne, are there more hidden truths to discover? Will there be a sequel using all of these recurring scenarios again? If so, count me out.
Alongside Jason Bourne, we were also reunited with Nicky Parsons – a character who was sadly wasted in this film. There were definitely some questionable decision-making surrounding her character, which ended up in throwing away so much potential. Without getting into spoiler territory, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think that she was used as a way to make room for Heather – a new character that almost parallels that of Nicky. This was seriously unfortunate as the film initially seemed to be setting her up for a more central role than she had in the previous films, something that would have benefitted Jason Bourne.
As well as the reunion of former characters, we were also introduced to two fresh-faces: Tommy Lee Jones’ Robert Dewey and Alicia Vikander’s Heather Lee. Sadly though, the former didn’t do anything for me. As with the other Bourne films, Jones conforms to a role that we have become far too accustomed to, that being, the grumpy, corrupt old man calling the shots. This, for me, was a complete waste of talent. Tommy Lee Jones is a very capable actor who could have provided something different to the franchise, but as it turned out, he was nothing short of mediocre in his role as the new CIA Director. That being said, though, I was actually impressed with Vikander’s performance. Her new role as the motivated Heather Lee added a higher-sense of purpose to the film, with her eagerness to capture Bourne for other reasons than attempting to tie up loose ends, became a well-needed breath of fresh air to the narrative.
What I thoroughly enjoyed about the previous Bourne additions was that they managed to create a sense of realism in their films, but this time around this just wasn’t the case. Instead of using more common, affordable vehicles for the chases like the previous films did, Bourne chose to chase a SWAT vehicle with a more upper-echelon choice that did nothing to separate a potentially awesome chase scene from any other bland, action movie-type scenario. Not only this, but the fight sequences were poorly-executed, too – something that is unprecedented with this franchise. The accumulation of frequent, fast-paced shots with an excessive amount of shaky camera made the scenes almost impossible to watch, and at times, made me wonder what the f**k was going on.
Complaints aside though, there were some parts that I did find enjoyable. The other films did an excellent job in demonstrating Bourne’s esteemed reputation, with his name alone being capable of scaring the shit out of his enemies. Thankfully, this was maintained in this instalment, shown through his complete control and dominance over his foes. He dictates what is going to happen and where it is going to happen, and there’s no better sight than witnessing Bourne coming out on top. Without spilling any spoilers, the final act was also very satisfying, which almost saved the movie, but sadly not quite.
Whilst Jason Bourne includes everything you want an action film to include, from the high-speed car chases to the overly-choreographed fight sequences, it just doesn’t provide anything different, anything fresh. And although we loved the Bourne trilogy, it’s fair to say that we have grown tired of seeing the same scenarios over and over again – which is unfortunate to see. The sad reality is there’s only so much you can do with a franchise, and it pains me to say that unless this narrative somehow shows any potential to develop, we might just be saying goodbye to Jason Bourne.