By Darren Chan Keng Leong (Singapore)
How many times can a man disappear? That is the question that I ask myself watching the latest instalment of the Bourne franchise. Matt Damon plays a former CIA assassin, Jason Bourne which is the same title of the film also. The film omits the events by the Bourne Legacy and continues directly from where Bourne Ultimatum left off which is a smart move by director Paul Greengrass in ensuring continuity.
This film is largely based on the back-story of Jason Bourne on how he got into the Threadstone program which his father was in charge. I like the fact that in the beginning of the film, the director had paid homage to the previous films such as the Bourne Ultimatum, Supremacy and Identity in giving the audience the backstory of how Jason is still on the run from the CIA and trying to shake off the fact that he was a wanted criminal by the CIA.
Former CIA operative Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) from the previous Bourne Ultimatum film returns to assist Jason in the film to hack into the CIA agency databases in retrieving the files for Jason so that he can understand about his past in finding his much needed closure. Soon it is discovered that the CIA has been planning similar programs to the Threadstone program.
However things take a turn for the worse, when after a run in with the CIA and the Asset (Vincent Cassel) who is ordered by the CIA to track down Bourne and take him in. The Asset has a feud and harbours intense hate towards Jason following the events of the Bourne Ultimatum. Both CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and CIA Cyber Security head Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) also both play huge roles as the film’s antagonists in trying to re-capture Bourne so that they can silence him once and for all. They compared him with Edward Snowden who is similarly on the run for having released top secret information.
This film has definitely more action scenes but I find that Jason Bourne has become an action hero instead of a normal human being. He just finishes his opponents off too easily and I wish that the director had showed us the vulnerability of Jason in facing off with his opponents. But the film still tries to have Jason being hurt once in a while but it does little to leave me excited through the scenes. The soundtrack was good in some of the fight scenes and it was nice to hear the theme song “Extreme Ways” by Moby being played again.
The fight scenes have been improved and the choreography is much fluid but The Asset could have presented a greater threat to Jason as both has the knowledge and skills to pit them against each other. Next, the character development is mediocre at best as Heather Lee’s motives of assisting Bourne in the early part of film is never made known and even though I was glad that Robert Dewey finally took a bullet, I just wished that there were more development in terms of letting the audience get to know the motives of the characters. To me, most of the time aside from Jason, all of the characters are very one-dimensional. They only add to the plot but are generally forgettable once the film credits rolls.
I had an issue with the director’s camera direction, especially the last scene that involved the car chase with Jason and The Asset. The camera angles were jerky and unstable which made me develop a headache and the scenes fluidity is questioned. Why are the scenes being cut so quickly? This has to be improved as it is hurting the film’s franchise. If, there were more twists and eventful scenes in the film, I would believe that the Bourne franchise is capable of telling more stories to the fans. After this film, I am now highly doubtful but diehard fans would definitely disagree with me.
It seems like there is room for a sequel to Jason Bourne, but I have a hard time envisioning where the story might move on for here. Yes, Heather Lee replaces Robert Dewey as the person who might be hunting down Jason in the next film. But clearly, I do not know whether a sequel should be made as I feel that the Bourne franchise has run its course. If you are looking for an action film to watch, it is passable but if you are looking for a good film, I would pass on this one. The director should have borrowed more elements from Bourne Ultimatum which is the best Bourne film in my opinion as everything was well-balanced out.
Unless, the director gives a compelling and good enough plot which utilises better camera angling and character development, it is best to let Bourne disappear for good in knowing that he will always be on the run. This would serve as a fitting farewell to the character that fans love as it serves as a satisfactory conclusion at best.
Robert Dewey: Thirty-two kills, you volunteered because you are Jason Bourne.
Jason Bourne: I volunteered because I thought our enemies killed my father. I volunteered because of a lie.
Robert Dewey: It’s time to get some answers.
Jason Bourne: Not for you.
Jason Bourne: I know who I am. I remember. I remember everything.
Nicky: Remembering everything doesn’t mean you know everything.
Jason Bourne: Tell me.