Bourne, Jason Bourne, is back as the 2016 summer of sequels continues to trudge forward. It’s been nearly a decade since Matt Damon portrayed the lethal retired secret agent. (“Bourne:Legacy” doesn’t count) After all these years, has the franchise aged like a fine wine, or spoiled like warm milk?
Following a surprisingly bland opening title sequence, we are quickly reminded of Bourne’s past via grainy flashbacks. Thankfully there’s not a lot of catching up to do; a man with no memory doesn’t have much history. Bourne, a man with incredible abilities and skills, has now reduced himself to surviving off from random underground boxing matches across Greece. His bouts vary from one punch knockouts to extended pummeling depending on how guilty he feels on that particular day. After a long drive to a short fight, we’re whisked across the globe to find Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) up to no good. What she’s doing, who she’s now working with, and the late 90’s depictions of hacking and technology are rather unsettling. By this point the film may have piqued our curiosity, but veteran writer/director Paul Greengrass simply puts the story in neutral and what follows is generic and formulaic. “Jason Bourne” feels like someone else took the reigns and are doing their best impersonation of a Greengrass Bourne Film. All the same beats are hit: Furious keyboard typing, control rooms full of concerned scowls, technology that’s intended to impress, motor vehicle chases through exotic cities, women who randomly risk everything to help him, a soundtrack of never ending tense stringed instruments, and frantic fight scenes utilizing random household props. Unfortunately, the only aspect that works this time around are the two chase scenes.
The entire exercise feels dated and old, which is ironic since the Original Trilogy holds up better than this new episode. It all feels recycled and there’s never any real suspense as we can almost immediately tell who will live, die, and go on to once again hear “This can all end now!” In a painfully obvious attempt to modernize it, the script is peppered with “Snowdens!” An underdeveloped subplot intended to move the story along involves, not black-ops super-soldiers this time, but instead a new social media platform named “Deep Dream.” Yup, just like Facebook, but with a worse name. The security aspects of it are apparently important enough to incite assassinations and draw Bourne back into the U.S.
“Jason Bourne” fails due almost entirely to its weak nonsensical script which raises more questions than it answers, the biggest being “Why?” If you consider all the sequels that should have been made at least a decade ago, and also the sequels that only cheapen the value of their predecessors, “Jason Bourne” lands perfectly in the middle of that Venn diagram.