As one of the roles that catapulted Matt Damon to super-stardom, the Jason Bourne character will forever be revered by fans of his and of espionage thrillers. In interviews, he’s said, himself, that it’s one of his favorite roles of his career…but when is too much of a good thing a bad thing?
I was excited for Jason Bourne—the resurgence of a favorite actor, reprising a favorite character: one man taking on the corruption in our own government. This film does that aspect well, and, just like the previous trilogy (disregarding The Bourne Legacy—sorry, Jeremy Renner…), tackled the current events of the time and used that as a gloomy backdrop for the story. The filmmakers dealt with the sum of our worst technological fears: social media giants in bed with government surveillance agencies, and the surrendering of our privacy and freedom without our consent or knowledge. Paul Greengrass’s direction in this is as good as it’s ever been—in any of his films—but I felt this installment was, alas, kindergarten-esque.
While the issue at-hand caught my attention, the movie, itself, was unable to hold it. When it comes to espionage films, a little bit of thrill and mysticism isn’t a bad thing; I’m not talking magic or parlor tricks, but don’t spoon-feed everything to the audience. With all the technology present in this film, it’s a wonder that Bourne succeeded at all, as everything was just a button-press away in that CIA ops center.
In that same vein, let’s talk about the tech, itself. I felt like I was watching a live-action iteration of Watch Dogs, with all the hacking and internet wizardry going on. Everything was so visual, so up-front—it’s as if the filmmakers thought their audience had lost the ability to deduce since the last honest Bourne installment. The key in espionage pictures is to piece together for yourself the mystery behind the surface events—or, in Bourne’s case, the events of his past.
This one, however, ended up being your typical “now, it’s personal” premise—which is fine, but for the return of Jason Bourne onto the big screen…unfitting and all-together-disrespectful to the character, I feel.
Julia Stiles’s involvement in this film—a staple of the latter two films of the trilogy—was, spoiler-free, disappointingly-brief. I enjoyed Alicia Vikander’s performance, although a tad robotic and über-pompous. Ato Essandoh’s potential, I felt, was wasted, falling into the “glass ceiling” role of Tommy Lee Jones’s CIA goon.
In the end, the gritty, identifiably-millennial charm of the original trilogy was lost in this action-packed, revamped fourth installment. Extreme ways are, indeed, back again, but more grandiose than we’ve seen in prior films. The filmmakers’ attempted prophetic message against the watchful eye of Big Brother, while fresh within the franchise, falls flat as something that had a lot of potential. Maybe that can still be attained in future films. In the meantime, I can begin to rebuild my hopes for a return to that gritty Bourne that I loved about the trilogy in the next film.
Jason Bourne receives a ‘Risk Assessment of ***/**, as a film with a lot of potential, wasted on “wow” factor rather than a much-needed return to roots.