Nine years since disappearing from the world after vanishing into New York’s East River in the conclusion to The Bourne Ultimatum, Jason Bourne unexpectedly resurfaces as the world he once knew has changed exponentially. Ditching the regular title format of The Bourne something… (as with Identity, Supremacy, Ultimatum and even Legacy), JASON BOURNE is the fifth film in the series but the fourth to star Matt Damon as the titular character. After several years’ reluctance to return to his career-defining role as Bourne after an already well received and critically acclaimed trilogy, the studio took an alternative route – releasing 2012’s The Bourne Legacy as a spin-off from the franchise – focusing on a new protagonist played by Jeremy Renner but still embedded in the world of Jason Bourne.
Met with mixed reviews from critics and fans alike, there was just something missing from the film and fans were overjoyed when Damon, finally entertaining the thought of returning to the franchise and granted his one condition of Paul Greengrass returning to direct if he was going to return to star, announced in 2014 that a highly desired ‘Fourth Matt Damon as Bourne film’ was on the way. Now at the doorstep of the first installment not to be based upon the novel, JASON BOURNE breaks away from the familiarity of the previous films whilst still remaining very much a Bourne film. Taking place in a realistic world where everything is constantly changing and displaying themes of privacy and corruption, Jason Bourne himself becomes a more relevant character than ever before in this fast-paced action spectacle that’s not only a deserving sequel but also an excellent engaging character-driven story of personal retribution.
Bourne, far from his days as the ‘malfunctioning $30 million weapon’ after having exposed the CIA assassin/black ops programs Treadstone and Blackbriar and declaring Jason Bourne no longer exists, has regained his memory but lost his purpose. Using his training and well-obtained skill set as a means of taking on street fights for cash, he remains in hiding under an array of different personas. Away from his home country of the United States as he constantly has flashbacks of his life before his involvement with the corrupt CIA, former ally Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) tracks him down with recently discovered information about his past and family while a newly developed program named Ironhand is implemented by CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) to hunt him down with the goal of tying up loose ends. Forced out of the shadows and on the run, Bourne must team with Nicky to uncover the truth whilst evading capture from a relentless and nameless assassin (Vincent Cassel) and exact vengeance on the morally depraved government forces responsible for his torment.
Proving Damon truly was BORN to play BOURNE, here he steps right back into the role as if no time has passed at all. The action gets going straight away with an impressive motorbike chase throughout the streets of Athens as all the things you’ve come to expect with one of these films comes smashing its way through with exceptional moments of bad–assery. Travelling the globe with beautiful and exotic locales, each set piece is better than the last with the full-throttle nature of the narrative lending itself well to the way the ante is upped over and over. Continuing on from each sequel’s practice of adding new guilty offenders as foils to Bourne’s world, the incredible talents of Tommy Lee Jones, recent Academy Award Winner Alicia Vikander and Vincent Cassel are introduced in a welcoming and appreciative way, all of whom bring vital and intelligent portrayals to join returning cast mates Damon and Stiles in creating an ensemble so good it only adds to the believability of the story.
As the villain of the feature, Jones – himself a veteran of stage and screen – personifies the uncompassionate and uncaring yet intimidating role of Dewey quite well, as a man who’ll take down anyone and everyone he has to in order to save his own skin. Cassel brings the goods as the assassin and polar opposite to Bourne, known only as the asset. Having been the subject of torture and holding Bourne responsible for this, he will stop at nothing to put him down. Vikander is perfect as determined and ruthless CIA agent Heather Lee, playing two sides of a coin, going back and forth between whose side she’s really on as her loyalty is tested throughout while Stiles further adds to the refreshing non-sexualisation of the film’s female characters as the capable and intuitive companion to Bourne, who may just be his only friend.
Evidently clear Damon has missed portraying the role; he quickly becomes the biggest draw and best thing about the film. Featuring gritty close quarters fist fights, gripping espionage investigation and chaotic big budget action this series is well known for, he manages to elevate the picture on a whole from his excellent and hardened performance alone. Now in his fourth portrayal of the iconic and beloved character, he’s done something not many actors in similar franchises can do, stand the test of time and ease right back into the role after nearly a decade somehow bringing new depth to the character while also showcasing its longevity. Even if, admittedly this one does involve an unneeded subplot and perhaps isn’t as first-rate as his last two attempts, Greengrass has still managed to deliver an entertaining spy thriller turned brutal vendetta flick that fits nicely within the cannon of Jason Bourne, proving the wait was worth it and leaving you wanting more.
With an epic grand car chase like you’ve never witnessed before taking place on the Las Vegas Strip, bound together with a satisfying score and the cool sounds of the series’ staple go-to song of Moby’s Extreme Ways further adding to what’s on offer, this is one you should stand in line for.
You know his name.