Former amnesiac CIA agent Jason Bourne comes out of hiding and attempts to uncover some information about his past
Director: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Julia Stiles
Genre: Action / Thriller
Release date: July 29, 2016
Running time: 123 mins
Bourne is back. No, not the disappointing Jeremy Renner version from 2012’s attempted franchise expansion The Bourne Legacy, but the proper born-to-be-Bourne Matt Damon version from Bournes Identity (2002), Supremacy (2004) and Ultimatum (2007).
Alongside the franchise’s returning actor is director and co-writer Paul Greengrass, returning to the Bourne bandwagon after helming the second and third entries in the series. S
tirring in a couple of compelling new characters, Greengrass (together with co-writer and editor Christopher Rouse) delivers a pleasingly solid entry in the series, with some pulse-pounding action set-pieces, though it’s fair to say that a little more in the way of emotion wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Damon is on terrific form
The film opens in Greece, where a still out-in-the-cold Jason Bourne is scraping a living on the bare-knuckle fighting circuit. He’s tracked down by former CIA ally-turned-Wikileaks-style activist Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), whose latest hack of the agency’s files has uncovered information about Bourne’s father (Gregg Henry).
However, CIA director Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) doesn’t want another Snowden on his hands, so he sends in a ruthless assassin (Vincent Cassel) to take care of Bourne and Parsons. Meanwhile, tech analyst Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) believes that Bourne could still be a boon to the agency, so she sets out to bring him in.
Damon is on terrific form as Bourne, and it’s a treat to have him back in the role, though he’s given curiously little dialogue, like he’s part Terminator or something.
Jones can do this sort of thing in his sleep, of course, and he’s reliably excellent as Dewey, while Cassel has fun as the killer (he’s referred to only as “The Asset”) and Vikander gives Heather a steely resourcefulness that works well, particularly in her closing scenes.
Greengrass made his name on the series on the strength of his tightly-edited, high-intensity fight scenes and action sequences, and the film certainly doesn’t disappoint on that score, from a thrilling motorcycle chase through a violent protest on the streets of Greece to a tense round of bait-and-switch in Paddington to an action-packed final set-piece in Vegas.
Similarly, Greengrass keeps the action moving at a breakneck pace throughout, though that does mean that there’s very little time for smaller character moments or anything approaching actual emotion.
There’s nothing like the haircut scene in The Bourne Identity, for example, something that isn’t helped by the fact that Damon and Vikander are rarely seen on screen together.
Suspenseful, thrilling and packed with action, this is a welcome return for the Bourne series, thanks to a superb cast and assured direction from Paul Greengrass.