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Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne (2016) movie poster Jason Bourne

Theatrical Release: July 29, 2016 / Running Time: 123 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Paul Greengrass / Writers: Paul Greengrass, Christopher Rouse (screenplay); Robert Ludlum (characters)

Cast: Matt Damon (Jason Bourne), Tommy Lee Jones (CIA Director Robert Dewey), Alicia Vikander (Heather Lee), Vincent Cassel (Asset), Julia Stiles (Nicky Parsons), Riz Ahmed (Aaron Kalloor), Ato Essandoh (Craig Jeffers), Scott Shepherd (Director NI Edwin Russell), Bill Camp (Malcolm Smith), Vinzenz Kiefer (Christian Dassault), Stephen Kunken (Bauman)


After moving on from a defining role of his career, Matt Damon returns for a fourth outing as the titular superspy of Jason Bourne. Similarly sitting out the Jeremy Renner-headed last installment, Paul Greengrass also returns to direct this, his third Bourne movie.

Jason Bourne posed my introduction to the franchise and with Damon reprising the role for the first time in nine years, the movie kind of assumes some viewers will be in the same boat. There are pieces of past movies presented in a fashion that will do more to jog memories than to make newcomers comprehend. But even those entering cold know that Bourne is a lethal former badass CIA operative who has wrestled with memory problems in the past.

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) reconnects with his old colleague Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) in "Jason Bourne."

These days, Bourne is in Greece doing some informal bare-knuckle boxing. When his old colleague Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) is caught hacking the CIA's servers, the agency makes arrangements under bag-eyed director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones).
The agency has secretly been working with a technology entrepreneur (Nightcrawler's Riz Ahmed) on a much-anticipated product launch that will eliminate privacy as we know it. Up and coming agent Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander, fresh off her Oscar win) believes that there's enough patriotism inside Bourne that they'll be able to persuade the rogue to return to the agency that once employed his late father. Dewey is skeptical and is more interested in taking Bourne out at any cost. To that end, he enlists an assassin (Vincent Cassel) who is off on an assignment in Rome.

People love the Bourne series not so much for their characters or dialogue, but for their action. Unsurprisingly, Jason is chockfull of action. It is presented with rapid-fire edits and extremely shaky camerawork. The movie is primarily action with little bits of story connecting them and adding context. That's in opposition to my movie tastes, so this was never going to blow me away, but even so I was able to appreciate this as a hyper descendant of James Bond. The big standout sequence is an epic car chase for the ages, in which Bourne tries to catch the assassin escaping in a SWAT truck. They drive into oncoming traffic on the busy and colorful streets of the Las Vegas strip. Dozens of vehicles get in the way and still the chase persists.

CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) collaborates with tech entrepreneur Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed) on a privacy-invading program.

Matt Damon reportedly has just 25 lines of dialogue in the movie, which amounts to him receiving a million dollars of salary for every line. Yes, Damon has to get into Bourne shape again, which can't be too easy at 45.
But it's different from what we think of as traditional acting. And yet, he clearly is not replaceable, as evidenced by Renner's The Bourne Legacy in 2012 grossing less than half of what Damon's The Bourne Ultimatum made domestically five years earlier. Perhaps to some younger people, that movie is old enough for this to feel like a nostalgia-supplying revival.

Slick and exciting, Jason Bourne should be quite popular with moviegoers and is destined to do much more business than the previous spin-off. I don't know that Greengrass and his co-writer Christopher Rouse (rising up from editing Greengrass' last two Bourne movies) do enough to re-energize the series (like I said, I'm a complete novice here) or dazzle critics the way that the most recent Mission: Impossible sequels have. But even if it doesn't linger in your mind or leave you hungry for another installment, it's a pretty fun ride nonetheless.

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Matt Damon: Contagion The Martian Elysium Invictus We Bought a Zoo Ocean's Thirteen Hereafter
Alicia Vikander: Ex Machina The Man from U.N.C.L.E. The Fifth Estate Burnt
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Spectre

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Reviewed July 29, 2016.

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