Jason Bourne (2016) is the fifth downloadable film in the Bourne film franchise, which began with The Bourne Identity (2002). It continues the story of the titular character Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), a rogue elite special agent who digs into his questionable past.
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The Film Review
Unlike the previous film, The Bourne Legacy (2012), this movie is written and directed by Paul Greengrass. Greengrass previously worked on the second – The Bourne Supremacy (2004) – and third – The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) – entries in the franchise, which are generally well regarded.
However, releasing nearly a decade after the end of the original Bourne trilogy, Jason Bourne often fails to justify its own existence. At times, it’s an exciting and thrilling action ride with a fun spy twist and familiar characters. That said, it can be a bit boring and doesn’t do much to flesh out the character of Jason Bourne.
The main focus of the narrative is appropriately on the character of Jason Bourne. We catch up with him in Greece in the present day, attempting to live his life off the grid and out of sight. Participating in back-alley brawls for cash and perpetually covered in dirt, Jason’s life is less than ideal.
After a visit from an old friend, Bourne finds himself compelled back into the world of espionage. Led by an encrypted set of files that detail his already foggy past, he sets out to finally discover the truth.
While the concept of Jason Bourne is interesting, it gets bogged down by needless subplots, shallow characters, and a weak script. At its core, the Bourne franchise is best when it’s mysterious; slowing revealing more and more about the main character as the story progresses. At this point in the series though, I didn’t feel like there was much more to discover about the once-amnesiac. This rings true, as a handful of uninteresting side stories constantly pad out the movie.
When the movie isn’t bogged down in its rather flimsy plot, it does manage to produce some impressive action sequences. The first three Bourne films featured exceptionally fun and brutal fight sequences, and Jason Bourne feels reminiscent of that.
Jason Bourne as an Action Movie
The opening of the film features a fun chase during a riot, and the twenty-minute climactic sequence is thrilling to see. In terms of action, the movie is properly bookended well. However, the film feels quite long due to a saggy middle. As an action film, it’s uneven but enjoyable. There’s just a lot of slog to getting to the fun action scenes.
For the most part, the film is well acted and the cast performs well. Matt Damon brings a stoic but determined tone to the character of Jason Bourne, and it’s just as interesting to see as it was in the original trilogy. Tommy Lee Jones does his best in the role of Robert Dewey, the Director of the CIA.
The same can be said for Alicia Vikander, who is a new face to the franchise in the role of Heather Lee. Unfortunately, the script does a poor job making us care about any characters other than Jason. Every character feels spread thin, and their various side stories are weakly tied into the main narrative. It’s not the failing of the actors, but rather the story itself.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, Jason Bourne is a functional but disappointing return. After the original trilogy wrapped up in 2007, there wasn’t much of a reason to return to the story.
Although it has some thrilling action sequences, decent cinematography, and an occasionally interesting main plot, the movie feels bloated and unnecessary. Besides the notable climactic sequence and a few fight scenes, most of the movie feels by-the-numbers. It’s not the worst spy thriller ever made, but at the same time, it doesn’t accomplish anything new for the franchise.
- It's fun to see the return of familiar faces and get some closure on loose ends
- The action is exciting and brutal, and there's a decent variety
- International locations are filmed well, thanks to good cinematography
- The overall story is padded and contains too many subplots
- Characters are hollow and lack motivation
- Dialogue is weak and scenes can feel boring