Classic Review: Jason Bourne (2016)

Since I’ve started this site, I’ve written a lot of reviews. In case you missed some of my earlier ones, I would like to share an older review of “Jason Bourne” which originally appeared here.

It’s been 10 years since Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) walked away from the agency that trained him to become a deadly weapon. Hoping to draw him out of the shadows, CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) assigns hacker and counterinsurgency expert Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) to find him. Lee suspects that former operative Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) is also looking for him. As she begins tracking the duo, Bourne finds himself back in action battling a sinister network that utilizes terror and technology to maintain unchecked power.

It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Jason Bourne. There technically was the Jeremy Renner led Bourne spinoff “The Bourne Legacy” but that one doesn’t count. It is definitely nice to see Damon in the role again but the question is, after 9 years since the last Damon led Bourne film, do Jason Bourne and the series still matter? While this is an impossible question, one can’t help but to ask themselves the question. The other problem with such a large gap in time is that it plays with expectations as memories go away.

What draws him out once again is when a former operative and hacker named Nicky Parsons (Stiles). She uncovers a multitude of secret CIA files which contain information on Bourne’s past. Because of Bourne’s sudden flashbacks of his past, Bourne and Parsons team up. These actions don’t go unnoticed, however, as they attract the attention of CIA director Robert Dewey (Jones) and hacker and cyber expert Heather Lee (Vikander). Of course they must go to battle, evading capture and/or death while uncovering many conspiracies along the way.

After 3, technically 4, films, where would they go next? The decision to look into Bourne’s past was an interesting one. This was fun to watch as we got to see things that we never saw before. While we did get a fair amount of backstory, there’s still a lot more to discover. There kind of has to be a reason for more films anyway. While the film had a heavy focus on Bourne, as it should, but offers plenty of other subplots for Bourne to guide us towards as all roads eventually lead to Bourne.

These subplots helped to introduce all of the new characters in Dewey and Lee. One inferred subplot here is the battle of the past versus the future with Dewey and Lee. Dewey believes in the ways of the past and operates this way and this often came into conflict with Lee’s way of doing things. This was represented in differences of opinion and with him often hindering her work. This led to some animosity between the two which felt mostly one-sided from each character as this was underdeveloped, making each of their motivations seem unclear. Dewey also had run ins with a software company CEO named Aaron Kallor (Riz Ahmed) where Dewey was blackmailing Kallor to create a backdoor into his software to allow for some sort of government surveillance. This was also interesting to watch but was not fully developed either. Lastly, Bourne had to face an adversary, known only as Asset (Vincent Cassel), who had a past history which wasn’t fully developed either. This made their motivations unclear but their battles were fun to watch.

While Bourne was fun to watch, there wasn’t much here besides that. After having watched the film, it is clear that even after all of this time, Damon still has it. He was still great during all the action sequences and all the other general spy stuff. Damon was great at the action but everybody else was pretty good too as all the action was fun to watch. The fight choreography was well done and it was all well shot too. The best moment has to be during a massive car chase through the streets of Las Vegas that some of you may have seen in the trailers. It was very fast-paced and thrilling to watch and surely cost a lot of money due to all the destruction. But because the rest of the story was lacking, it was easy to dread any scene that wasn’t Bourne-related.

Despite the lack of material, the acting was very good with Damon not missing a beat with Jones and Vikander being good as well. Jones’ Dewey was a great foil for Bourne, primarily from Jones’ pedigree and presence which he added to the character. His imposing nature made his scenes more enjoyable to watch . Vikander’s underdeveloped Lee was great too and had great chemistry with Jones and Damon. It just would’ve been better if we could understand her more but maybe the inevitable next film will solve this.

Overall, this is a good action film featuring an enjoyable performance by Matt Damon but offering not much else story-wise.

Score: 7/10

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