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    Review: ‘Jason Bourne’ falls short of its predecessors, but still gets the job done

    Promotional+poster+for+the+latest+Bourne+movie%2C+Jason+Bourne.+This+installment+brings+Matt+Damon+back+into+the+lead+role+of+Jason+Bourne+nine+years+after+the+end+of+the+original+trilogy.
    Universal Pictures

    Promotional poster for the latest Bourne movie, “Jason Bourne.” This installment brings Matt Damon back into the lead role of Jason Bourne nine years after the end of the original trilogy.

    It has been almost ten years since former CIA super assassin Jason Bourne left the agency that turned him into a killing machine. After three action-packed films chronicling the decade, Bourne finally pieced together most of what the government did to him, or so he thought.

    In the new film “Jason Bourne,” Matt Damon returns nine years later to the franchise that originally catapulted him to action star status. Bourne fans will surely welcome his return with open arms since the 2012 reboot film “The Bourne Legacy” gave Damon a break from the franchise and had Jeremy Renner step in instead to tell a different character’s story.

    “The Bourne Legacy” did not come anywhere close to achieving what the earlier films did, and ultimately proved that a Bourne movie needs Matt Damon in order to work.

    In the new film, we see Bourne trying to have a normal life, or at least what he considers a normal life. He has lived off the grid for years, partaking in an underground fighting circuit.

    But alas, Bourne’s chances at undisturbed happiness do not last forever. He soon gets a visit from former CIA operative Nicky Parsons, played by Julia Stiles, who recently hacked into the CIA’s network in order to gain access to classified documents about projects like Treadstone—the secret operation that changed Bourne forever.

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    Bourne and Parsons meet up in Greece with the CIA hot on their tails. From then on, Bourne must once again face the agency he has tried so desperately to forget about as he learns that (spoiler alert) his father was somehow involved in the Treadstone operation—not just a simple analyst like Bourne had previously thought.

    From an action movie standpoint, “Jason Bourne” definitely succeeds as a high quality film, but Bourne movies should always be held to a higher standard than regular action films.

    The first three films represent a coherent trilogy about a spy attempting to regain his memory and discover what happened in his dark past. At the end of 2007’s “The Bourne Ultimatum” it seemed like Bourne had more or less done that, so fans got a satisfying ending that left open the possibility of future sequels while also tying the knot to the franchise fairly well.

    The twist about the involvement of Bourne’s father becomes the main plot aspect driving “Jason Bourne,” and it all feels a little bit forced. It often seems like the filmmakers had no plans to actually create this installment after ending the trilogy and just threw something together after the fact.

    Still, this film attempts to breathe new life into the franchise by adding new characters such as CIA Director Robert Dewey, played by Tommy Lee Jones, a new villain known only as the Asset, portrayed by Vincent Cassel, and Heather Lee, played by Alicia Vikander, the new agent in charge of bringing Bourne in. Vikander in particular does an excellent job in her role.

    Other than the fresh faces, the film feels like, well, just another Bourne movie, but unfortunately without all of the compelling suspense that turned the original trilogy into classics. It is very nice to see Damon return to the franchise that forever changed his status as an actor and, as always, he does exceptional work in the title role.

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    The film’s redemption mainly comes from the directing efforts of Paul Greengrass. After taking a break with 2012’s “The Bourne Legacy,” Greengrass returned to direct this film, bringing his signature visual style and knack for staging big budget action sequences. Greengrass directed the second and third installments of the franchise and has played a big role in making the Bourne series so memorable. An amazing car chase scene through the streets of Las Vegas proved definitive of his style.

    If nothing else, Bourne fans will surely get a reassuring dose of nostalgia when Moby’s “Extreme Ways” plays during the ending credits, a song that will likely always have a link to the Bourne franchise.

    Overall, the film was well directed with several standout acting performances. It was exciting to see Jason Bourne return to the big screen, even if only in a slightly unnecessary sequel that falls well below its reveled predecessors.

    Grade: B-


    Follow Alec Kuehnle on Twitter


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