Matt Damon is back as Jason Bourne in…um…Jason Bourne. Does more need to be said? Alright, if we must. Damon’s character is nearly a decade removed from taking down those that transformed a young man looking to better his country into a ruthless killing machine. Knowing the level of trouble he has already caused, Bourne lives on the fringes of society where cameras are rare and meals are bought with the bucks earned from a street fight. This existence takes a turn when a friend/colleague/love-interest from the past reveals that, yet again, there are still secrets about Bourne and the program that molded him.
If this sounds familiar, that would be an accurate insight. Even with director Paul Greengrass at the helm once more, having crafted The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, plus an intriguing cast of Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander and Vincent Cassell, this latest installment is too familiar. There is a pattern to this series, especially since Greengrass took over the directing chair. There’s the scene of officials in Washington D.C. asking for live camera footage from around the world, Bourne walking between the masses controlling the chaos in quiet, an unwitting fool caught between these two forces and an eventual car chase. Jason Bourne rolls through that scenario once more, then does it again about twenty minutes later. Then twenty minutes later at a slightly different angle. Then again.
These pieces work, somewhat, in a vacuum. An opening piece of anarchy in an unstable Greece has some visual pop, with the camera swirling amidst and above burning alleys and the men who fight for their opinions in them, all while Bourne stalks the scene like a phantom. As part of a larger narrative, that includes three previous movies with the same character, it’s a bit of old hat. Lines of dialogue feel lifted from past scripts, with the names of the specific shady government agency or figurehead substituted for whatever new adjective-plus-noun. The cast is a bit of the ol’ walking dead, spouting off lines with the kind of monotone that calls to mind kids forced to read a paragraph aloud in history class. Vikander, an actress with talent for days, is stearn and dull, eyes popped for blank stares and an accent from nowhere U.S.A. Only Tommy Lee Jones appears to be having a glimmer of fun here, screwing around with Bourne with near glee.
There are crumbs to admire in Jason Bourne, from the scale of it’s action staging to the attempt to bring in a modern sense of personal data paranoia. However, it takes more than Bourne popping out of another train to deck a dude or saying Snowden seven times to round out a movie.