Jason Bourne delivers just what you expect of a Bourne movie – a turbo-charged ultraviolent hellride, utterly implausible but fun.
Jason Bourne (Matt Damon – need I say) is back! When we last left him in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) the amnesic rogue CIA assassin was a tortured figure, a patriot in exile and in limbo, out in the cold, on the run. If you’re new to Bourne, no probs – early in this new film, simply entitled Jason Bourne, you are told all you need to know about his past via short, skilfully managed flashbacks.
Fast-forward to now. The world has changed, and this is reflected in some of the film’s settings and its narrative content. The austerity riots in Athens for example, are the backdrop to a ripsnorter of a chase sequence, while the story taps into increasing concerns of populations throughout the world over government surveillance and the ever-blurring line between national security and privacy invasion. The filmmakers have avoided the obvious and not included Islamic terrorists in the mix. The enemy here – a ruthless and corrupt CIA – resides within. Whistle-blowing a la Edward Snowden is depicted as a legitimate, indeed heroic, response.
Machiavellian CIA director Robert Dewey (a grizzled Tommy Lee Jones) is hell-bent on rubbing out Bourne, while his brilliant new-breed Gen Y subordinate Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) believes the organisation would be better served by “bringing him in.” The simmering power-struggle fuelled by their differences in perspective gains traction as they conduct operations like computer gamers over a bank of monitors linked to state-of-the-art surveillance systems able to zone in on just about anyone, just about anywhere. Scary. But of course, their subject Bourne knows their game and stays a step ahead (just!) of the thoroughly nasty, personally vengeful agent known as Asset (Vincent Cassel) assigned to hunt him down.
If the world has changed, Bourne has not. He has recovered much of his memory but remains tortured, partly by the killing he has done on behalf of the CIA, and partly by not knowing the facts about his father’s death. He has been staying under CIA radar by living “off-grid”, making bucks in bare-knuckle fights in some rough southern/middle European backwater.
The story proper kicks off when an associate from Bourne’s past, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), contacts him and proposes that they team up as whistleblowers to blow the lid on nefarious CIA activities. She has managed to copy classified CIA files, including details of Bourne’s operation “Treadstone”. However, the CIA gets wind of her intentions, and when Bourne breaks cover to assist her they’re on to him like a pack of hounds. Thus begins the white-knuckle turbo-charged hell-ride we know is coming, and it doesn’t disappoint.
The action maintains breakneck pace throughout, featuring the usual Bourne trademarks: brilliant cinematography, rapid-fire editing, the tension-ratcheting signature score of drums, riffing synths and staccato violins, and of course ultraviolent encounters between Bourne and his adversaries, with spectacular car and motorbike chases thrown in. Refreshingly, the eye-bogglingly frenetic (and ultimately, draining!) action sequences are achieved through superbly managed camerawork, editing and stunts, with use of CGI minimal.
The climax takes place in Las Vegas, at a conference in which Zuckerberg-styled social media wunderkind Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed) puts himself in the crosshairs of the CIA by publicly blowing the lid on their infiltration of his media platform for the purposes of data mining and accessing users’ personal details. A subsequent car chase and showdown between Bourne and “Asset” is way OTT but good fun – and that just about sums up the film.
It’s a case of WYSIWYG with the Bourne franchise. You know what to expect and the films deliver in full. Jason Bourne is no exception. And a cleverly managed bit of dialogue at the end hints that we haven’t seen the last of him just yet.
Movie website: http://www.jasonbournemovie.com.au/
Jason Bourne features: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Riz Ahmed, Julia Stiles
Director: Paul Greengrass
Writers: Paul Greengrass, Christopher Rouse (based on Robert Ludlum characters)
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