Friday, July 29, 2016

Jason Bourne - Movie Review: Action over Substance

I’m a trained assassin who has stayed off the grid for years, but, man, a Vegas trip sure sounds nice. They don’t have many camera’s there do they?
Jason Bourne starring Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent Cassel and directed by Paul Greengrass. Jason Bourne is the fourth film in the franchise to star Matt Damon and is a solid action flick, but lacks the compelling story the other three movies had. Bourne is forced once again to match wits with the CIA, try to get away and expose what they are doing. This time he goes up against a new breed in Alicia Vikander’s character Heather Lee. Tommy Lee Jones plays the CIA director Robert Dewey who still is trying to control and contain secret programs which he thinks protect American lives.

The action in the movie is still fantastic. If you have been a fan of the other three movies, the two directed by Paul Greengrass in particular, you will enjoy the fourth installment. Greengrass does use shaky cam action shots, but I think he does it well. If you aren’t a fan of this type of action, you won’t enjoy much of Jason Bourne. I never felt lost during an action shot. Greengrass still controls the camera so the audience knows what is going on during a sequence. There are a few really intense and well done action sequences, and I enjoyed all of them. The story they tell to fit all of these action scenes in the film seems forced. The movie suffers from bigger sequel syndrome; thinking the need to go bigger and better with their car chases or fight scenes to make the movie stand out. For me what has always made the Bourne movies great is the well told story coupled with the good action. Make action on the exact same level, just tell a good story to go along with it.

The performances are also all good in the movie. Matt Damon is still great as the title character, and eases right back into his role. Alicia Vikander steals the movie, though her try at an American accent did bother me a little bit. If there is a reason to make more Bourne movies she it. One aspect of the story that was well done was her character. You never truly know what side she is on, and she is politically maneuvering the entire film. Her interactions with Tommy Lee Jones are really good. Jones turns in his standard performance. He by all accounts he isn’t a very nice individual to work with, but he is a good actor. There is one scene in particular with Vikander and Jones where his character has no dialogue, but just the acting he does with his eyes says everything. You don’t need any dialogue for him to convey what he is feeling and thinking.

The performance and action are good enough to enjoy the film. Where the movie fails is in its overall story. There has been a big time jump between the last Bourne film until now, and they don’t do a good enough job of explaining what he has been up to. It is hinted at, with the introduction of a character, but it leaves it as a mystery. The first films where all about Bourne trying to find out his identity and how he became the trained assassin. They try to give a compelling reason in this film for him to find out why he joined treadstone, but it just didn’t mesh well for me. They also shoehorn in another bad guy assassin. They give him more of a backstory than any of other assassins in the previous films, but it isn’t needed. Vincent Cassel does a good job in the role, but his backstory isn’t necessary for the story to work. They should have completely left one part out, or changed Bourne’s motivations for the film completely. The added backstory story tries to give Cassel’s character motivation, but the main arch in the film does this already. The decisions the character makes don’t make sense for a trained stealth assassin. Like planning an operation in Las Vegas, and a few others during the final part of the movie. This is where I think they felt they needed a bigger action set piece, and a smaller one would have worked just as well and fit the story and characters better.

Jason Bourne isn’t a bad film, but it isn’t up to the level of the first three. It is sadly, a noticeable step down in story from the previous movies.  I still had a fun time watching it, and could watch it again. If you a fan of the franchise this is a film is Worth Seeing, and worth seeing in the theaters. If you think the previous movies have just been okay, then you could wait for this to be available to rent.
Let me know what you think of the newest Bourne film if you have seen it. What is your favorite action scene from any of the movies? Mine is either the first car chase in the beat up mini, or when he fought with a magazine. Comment and let me know

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