Film: “Jason Bourne”; Director: Paul Greengrass; Cast: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles, Riz Ahmed, Ato Essandoh, Scott Shepherd, Bill Camp, Vinzene Kiefer, Stephen Kunken; Rating: ***
For those uninitiated with the Bourne franchise, “Jason Bourne” is the fifth film in the series and the fourth one with Matt Damon as the central figure after “The Bourne Identity” (2002), “The Bourne Supremacy” (2004) and “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007).
“The Bourne Legacy” which was released in 2012 featured Jeremy Renner as the lead.
So technically “Jason Bourne” picks up nine years later if we follow the timelines of reality. It is a stylistic action thriller mounted on a paper-thin plot with a lot of perfunctory chase sequences made up of shaky cam photography and snappy edits.
The plot revolves around the eponymous character, the CIA’s most lethal former operative on a revenge trail where he discovers something personal about his life that makes him the man he is today.
The narration begins with crisp scenes jumping locations from; Greece- Albanian border to Reykjavik in Iceland to the CIA Headquarters in Langley to McLean in Virginia to the Deep Dream Corporation Conference in the Silicon Valley in California, Rome and later to Athens.
It reveals how Bourne survived as a street fighter, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) Bourne’s former colleague hacks into a CIA mainframe and downloads a list of illicit programs onto a memory stick, The New CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) has a keen young analyst, Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) who has located Nicky and suspects that she like Bourne, has deserted the CIA and is now in possession of a top secret file, whose public revelation “could be worse than Snowden.”
It is only after about twenty five minutes of visceral excitement which includes an action-packed riot scene and Bourne swears to “take down the corrupt institution that destroys the society,” that you actually get hooked.
Scripted by the Director Paul Greengrass and Editor Christopher Rouse, the plot development isn’t memorable. But what they deliver are waves of thrilling action-packed sequences, to the point of insanity. And, it is worth the wait to see the action presented on screen. It is too competent to be discarded as outstandingly bad.
The effort fuses high production values with well-choreographed and exciting action which includes some real stunts and real car chases. Some CGI frames do seem tacky though.
On the directorial front, Greengrass’ style is very realistic and even though he uses a shaky cam, it is executed in a specific manner which is not disorienting. He ensures that Barry Ackroyd’s camerawork with mid-shots and close-ups, jerks and dives to thrilling effects during the climactic sequence. The motion gives the feeling of actually being physically hit before descending into a blurry mishmash where the human combatants are no longer visible. The snappy edits, at times, flare your nerves.
On the performance front, Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, with the addition of Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander and Vincent Cassel play very professional yet flawed, one-dimensional characters to perfection. And they have their tense character moments too.
Overall the film ends on a flat note with quite a bit of promise for the future.