Kurt Loder Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Jason Bourne

Matt Damon in a franchise rescue mission.

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Jason Bourne
Universal Pictures

In Jason Bourne, the world's most misunderstood killing machine returns after a nine-year exile. For those whose memories may have hazed over, the movie offers a collection of what might be called Bourne's Greatest Hits. There are furious close-quarters smackdowns and hair-raising automotive sprees, and a sniper stalk through a crowded locale that recalls the Waterloo-station knuckle-biter in The Bourne Ultimatum. There's also a bumpy vehicular ascent of a flight of stone steps that's rather like the Mini Cooper bit in The Bourne Identity; and a scene in which a clever tech device is slipped into an unsuspecting character's pocket (another Ultimatum echo). Our man is also still prone to taking time-outs from the rampant hubbub in order to stare soulfully at his battered countenance in bathroom mirrors. It really is like old times.

But returning director Paul Greengrass makes this vintage stuff seem almost fresh, or at least still rousing. His intricately edited shaky-cam style—so influential on so many action movies that followed The Bourne Supremacy, his first film in the series—is no longer quite the revelation it once was, but it still packs a wallop.

The story, which Greengrass co-wrote with his editor, Bourne veteran Christopher Rouse, pretty much ignores The Bourne Legacy, the drab, Damon-less 2012 installment of the series. We come upon Jason some years after the end of Ultimatum, in which we saw him swimming away to fight another day. He currently earns a humble living competing in underground bare-knuckle boxing matches, and we see him in the dismal wilds of northern Greece flattening an opponent with a single punch. Even in his forties, he's still got it.

Meanwhile, in Reykjavik, Bourne's old partner/semi-love interest Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), the ex-CIA field agent now gone rogue, has hacked into the agency website and downloaded a trove of documents detailing a variety of top-secret black ops. This incursion sets off an alarm at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, where young cyber chief Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) immediately alerts her boss, the devious agency director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones). Heather wants to take charge of the search for Nicky—and by extension Bourne—because she believes Bourne can be brought back into the company fold. Dewey gives her the go-ahead, even though he'd much rather see these two CIA turncoats terminated.

In order to give the story an up-to-the-minute topical sheen, we also have Dewey plotting a new op that will allow the CIA and NSA to digitally eavesdrop on the whole world. (Like this hasn't already happened.) To do so, he needs the cooperation of a Silicon Valley whiz kid named Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed, very mogul-boy), who's proving resistant to Dewey's blandishments. Their conflict leads to a violent showdown at a Las Vegas software expo, which in turn leads to an extended stretch of automotive chaos on the Strip that's so eye-poppingly over the top that it probably won't be equaled anytime soon. (It goes on so long you kind of hope it won't.)

It's easy to believe that Greengrass, who in his days as a journalist cowrote the sensational true-espionage book Spycatcher, has a serious interest in the sort of intelligence skullduggery depicted here. But that's incidental to a movie that mainly seeks to revive a languishing blockbuster brand. We want more basic things from these pictures. We want the travel porn, for one thing, and we get it here, touching down in London, Berlin, New York and Athens (where there's a delirious sequence with Bourne and Nicky being hunted through the uproar of a political demonstration by an agency assassin, played with grim charisma by Vincent Cassel). We also want a touch of romance (Vikander's character, with her ambiguous motivations, offers promise in this regard), and at least another sliver of information about Bourne's cloudy past (there's some unsettling news about his dead father, also an agent). Most of all we need Damon's Bourne, still isolated, still conflicted, still searching for a kernel of human feeling in his wrecked personality.

The movie has a by-the-numbers feel that's a little bit disappointing, but it serves to remind us what was so great about the earlier films. It also suggests the possibility that there's still life in this 14-year-old franchise, and that more inventive extensions of the story are still possible. That would require Damon and Greengrass sticking around to explore them, though.

NEXT: "Have You Even Read the United States Constitution?" Father of a Fallen Muslim Soldier Challenges Trump at the DNC

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  1. Matt Damon doesn’t want me to be allowed to own a gun, so I’m not going to a movie where he’s waving a gun around for most of it. QED.

    1. I don’t expect actors political positions to make any damn sense. Their job is to emote on demand, which doesn’t make for reasoned opinions. Avoiding the work of actors whose politics I find irrational is biting my nose off to spite my face. Instead I try to avoid the work of actors who can’t freaking act.

      Happily this allows me to afoid the films of Jane Fonda, whose politics I loathe and who has the acting skills of a turnip.

      1. Can’t speak for JWW, but for me the problem is when an actor is a huge asshole about their stupid political views. Matt Damon has definitely been a very big asshole.

        1. I can despise Clooney for being “Clooney” in every movie. It’s like they write smarmy hypocrite into the role because he can’t act any other way. *Oh Brother may be an exception.

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        2. One expects thespians to dance their letters well in front of reality-altering machines. Expecting more from an entity that exists to build dream-like states and strum delusions on the accordions of mental rearrangement is likely an exercise in an alternative form of psychopathic magic, my friend.

        3. I agree completely. If you’re going to be a loud and proud dumbfuck, don’t expect me to provide material support to you.

      2. Besides advocating the abolition of the Second Amendment and the outright confiscation of guns–all of them, he also heavily funds organizations whose primary goal is to accomplish these things. I would say supporting these kinds of people because you may want to see a movie their in actually constitutes saving your nose while cutting off the rest of your face.

        1. Or it doesn’t make any difference to anything and you should just see the damn movie if you think you will like it.

          “These kinds of people” are probably the majority of people involved in the production of just about any entertainment product you are likely to be interested in.

          1. Is that the same reason people should just shut up and support the government if it does a couple things they like?

          2. Sure, it makes a difference. An actor advocates for authoritarianism or whatever and people who were thinking about seeing his movie decide not to go see it. Advocacy like this sometimes effects the bottom line of the movie or theatrical production. It should happen more often.

            1. So, you think Matt Damon’s career will be affected by a few grumpy libertarians not seeing his new movie?

              Almost everyone advocates for authoritarianism. I’m not going to limit my entertainment choices because of the political views of an actor. (I’m not going to see this movie either because I’m not interested).

      3. I just pretend they are acting like a progressive dipshit, and just enjoy the performance.

    2. I realized a long time ago that half the people who pay me and half the people I pay are of a different political bent. I get along with and like most of these people despite their politics. If we all quit working together because of our political differences I wouldn’t make enough to eat and I would not have known a lot of good people. Hence If I think the movie will be good i’ll watch it. that said I haven’t been to the theater since Jar-Jar was introduced in Star Wars.

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    4. Me too. I try my best not to find out about movie stars’ political views, and when I do I try to not worry about it. But he’s an outright fascist, so fuck him. Never getting another dime of money if I can help it.

    5. Matt Damon was pegged by Matt Stone and Trey Parker years ago and accurately portrayed by a ball of clay in Team America

      1. And by ball of clay I mean plastic Legs and arms with strings o’ttached

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  2. If a logarithm works beat the blood out of that data so hard it has to crawl back to its clutch of floating points leaving a slippery trail of genetic numerals bubbling disappointment deep into the ethereal bank accounts of jaded jesters munching on whole wheat crumpets in ancient restaurants on streets curving madly that once murmured a majestic bass haze whipping with enthrall and intrigue.

  3. A ‘fuck everything day’ would be appropriate for the time we call home. Immersion in reality certainly has an odd cost. Though, the lack thereof (of these existence corpuscles) wouldn’t appreciate the tenor of a ‘fuck everything day’.

  4. Can the reboot be as mediocre as the originals?

    1. I actually liked the first one. The rest were just boring retreads.

      1. True, this is what their 5th time making the same movie….

        1. At least they aren’t trying to sell me on Jeremy Renner as action hero.

          1. Um, *cough* Hawkeye? *cough*

            Oh, wait, yeah you’re right.

        2. Yes! It’s time to put this franchise down.

          One more thing about the first, it had an impact on the way future spy movies were conceived and filmed…much gritier, close quarter fighting, and such. Watch the Bond movie that followed the first Bourne movie and compare it with the one previous, and you will appreciate the Bourne movie’s influence.

          1. Yes! It’s time to put this franchise down.

            Except this movie is going to make a bundle, so there will be another.

            1. We’ll see. The last few haven’t been that great.

      2. Which is why the original trilogy in the book made so much more sense

        1. Never read them, I take it another case of “the books were better than the movies”?

          1. I would say the first of each were about the same in that they pushed the genre they lived in heavily. The particulars were pretty much right. Government agent who poses as assassin but isn’t one loses his memory and gets hunted with extreme prejudice by his handlers. The catch that you miss in between is a link to his irregular military service that sets up a much better second book where that link goes back to Asia and builds a Bourne of his own. So episode two is Bourne v Bourne in Communist China which can’t be sold as a current movie. And episode three is Bourne v his original target which is Carlos the Jackal, who his identity was originally built to hunt.

  5. I guess the Reason staff was so overcome with Hillary love that they forgot all about the AM Links

    1. Too drunk to post after trying to protect their brains reflexively.

    2. oh god it’s 5/17 all over again

      1. NEVER FORGET

    3. Mourning Lynx Missing Again!!

      I blame Fruit Sushi.

  6. Our man is also still prone to taking time-outs from the rampant hubbub in order to stare soulfully at his battered countenance in bathroom mirrors.

    “Our man” being whoever’s the hook for the Lynx?

    1. *on*

      *** gets coffee ***

    2. “Our Man”

      Robby, of course. Who else could be responsible for such an atrocity?

      1. Hit, I mean, Trump?

  7. Reason’s millennial contingent must be to blame.

    1. They’re tolerant and generous but not punctual.

  8. Still Bourne.

  9. I have decided to not purchase anything made by these bill of rights trashing loons.

    Damon and Afflack are on my no fly list. A bunch of other Hollywood types are as well. I don’t support thugs.

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  11. The first Bourne, by Liman, was a fantastic movie with great set pieces and well choreographed action. The next two Bourne movies, by Greengrass, were horrible shaky-cam nonsense, with forgettable locations and idiotic motivations. They turn Bourne’s journey of self-discovery and reflection on the nature of evil, into a REVENGE movie. The Bourne Legacy, by Gilroy (who wrote the first Bourne), was awesome. It had the well choreographed action and set pieces, and recaptured the fun of the first one. I’m not surprised this one is mediocre.

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  17. Explosive reunion between Damon and director Paul Greengrass further reveals key secrets about Bourne’s origins, bringing its lethal protagonist as close as he’s ever likely to get to total recall. Overall an above average deserve to watch at least once film play store apk

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