Thursday, August 04, 2016
In from the Cold
He wastes zero seconds taking his shirt off and knocking out an opponent. His chest is hard, his tummy beyond-taut, and his punch.... My, his punch? It packs a wallop (as it always did).
Of course, at this stage in the summer I’m talking about Jason Bourne, who, as portrayed by Matt Damon, still has it going on, alright. His hair, much like the star’s, might have greyed a touch since we got The Bourne Ultimatum nine years ago, but the once-amnesiac spy’s instincts and flair for survival are as on point as ever.
So is Jason Bourne, for that matter – but then again.
This third collaboration between director Paul Greengrass and Damon in a franchise spawned by a sleeper hit back in 2002 is testament to the power of this filmmaking duo. By now we all know that Damon would not reprise this role without Greengrass at the helm (ergo Jeremy Renner’s The Bourne Legacy), so this movie is very much a labor of love. An end, as I will explain in a moment, but also a beginning, yet, more pressingly, also fairly status quo.
Damon and Greengrass, they make good action movies together – but I can see the wires in their latest effort. Bourne’s still having trouble remembering his past, so the plot at hand begins to illuminate more secrets for him as it plucks him from his off-the-grid loner life, which he spends taking part in dusty illegal fights out in the middle of nowhere in Greece.
Meanwhile, a cadre of people chases the guy all over the world on the command of CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones), an old hat who really wants the rogue assassin eliminated once and for all, lest he learn more about the program that made him who he is or about the new and, ahem, improved course of action the agency has embraced since he exposed its practices almost a decade ago. Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) joins in on the fun as a tech-savvy new hat Heather Lee, a complex upstart in a male-dominated world who plays it close to the vest and who, in the end, represents a new dawn at the CIA. (The gender politics at hand between Jones’ character and Vikander’s are a bit of a throwback-y hoot to watch.)
Not a spoiler: It all ends with a signature shaky car chase through the Vegas Strip and with Damon and Vincent Cassel beating the living s--- outta each other because A) you have seen the trailers for Jason Bourne and B) of course and duh, Cassel’s part is one that requires a good ass-whoopin’. Just be like, grateful I haven’t touched upon the fate of Julia Stiles’ also-returning Nicky Parsons because I have a theory about women and age and job security vis-à-vis the needs of the story that, honestly, is a conversation best had in another format and within the proper context. Not to mention, to say little to nothing of the subplot that links a Silicon Valley social-media unicorn (Riz Ahmed, from HBO’s The Night Of) to the CIA that’s quite of the times (I don’t want to get into a conspiracy theory because that aspect of the movie was really scary).
Look. I love that we have Jason Bourne and that we got Jason Bourne as two of its key powers that be intended it to come to be.
Jason Bourne is my James Bond, and I am super-thrilled Damon and Greengrass have claimed proud ownership of his journey. However, with this one they make it clear that, while they can still deliver that which we’ve grow to love and anticipate, a little innovation won’t hurt in the future. Perhaps, they should pull a Tom Cruise and call upon a new director to freshen things up?
They def ought to stand clear of any further yarns that require that Damon & Co. read or connect or get info from mobile devices because that’s sooo boring to watch up on a silver screen.
Bourne is larger than life, but, somehow, this movie often feels as though it is asking that we appreciate it the way we do something we see on Facebook: narrowly.
We were Bourne for grand(er).
My Rating **1/2
Photo: Universal Pictures.