Review: JASON BOURNE (2016) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Review: JASON BOURNE (2016)

Review: JASON BOURNE (2016)

Following the events of THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM (2007) several years later, former CIA assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) has been living off the grid and minding his own business until Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) shows up with a new info regarding his past as well as the truth about his father's (Gregg Henry) death. As usual, the chase is on when the CIA is determined to hunt down Bourne and Parsons at all cost...

REVIEW: Over the course of three movies in the BOURNE trilogy, Jason Bourne's (Matt Damon) quest of uncovering the truth surrounding his murky past has successfully brought the series to a satisfying conclusion in 2007's THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM. Frankly, there was little reason to continue the story further with another BOURNE adventure.

But Hollywood is always known for being greedy, especially when it comes to a lucrative franchise like the BOURNE series. So it comes to no surprise that Universal sees fit to continue the series, even after Damon and director Paul Greengrass themselves have previously announced their departures after collaborating twice in THE BOURNE SUPREMACY (2004) and THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM.

In 2012, along came THE BOURNE LEGACY which introduced a new character named Aaron Cross. Played by Jeremy Renner, the movie is specifically designed as a spinoff that draws a parallel storyline connected to the events of THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM. While the strategy did work to a certain degree, it was not enough to revitalise the franchise as the studio hoped for.

Fast forward to 2016, Damon and Greengrass finally return to their beloved franchise in JASON BOURNE. From the day the fifth BOURNE movie released a 30-second Super Bowl TV spot in February this year to the subsequent previews leading to the late July release, the trailers certainly look promising enough. However, there's a nagging feeling that JASON BOURNE might end up more like a rehash of Damon and Greengrass' previous collaboration in their last two movies...

... which is unfortunate, it does feel like one. With Tony Gilroy no longer involving the series' screenwriting process for the first time since THE BOURNE LEGACY, Greengrass alongside THE BOURNE SUPREMACY and THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM editor Christopher Rouse takes over instead and replicates the same old formula in JASON BOURNE. This means every checklist that you've come to know from a BOURNE movie is all here. From the series' signature globe-trotting chase to a partial storyline surrounding a shady high-ranking officer running a latest black op, Greengrass and Rouse recycled every story beat that made THE BOURNE SUPREMACY and THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM such a taut cinematic experience.

Review: JASON BOURNE (2016)

While I personally wouldn't mind seeing a sequel or reboot from a popular franchise relying on the nostalgia factor, JASON BOURNE feels strangely monotonous. Yes, the movie is fast paced as usual but the same sense of excitement isn't really there. Even though Greengrass and Rouse try to be topical in today's post-Snowden era related to cyber warfare and hacking, the story barely scratches beyond its surface.

Since the plot lacks the essential narrative hook this time around, the action could be the least saving grace. But surprisingly, the action in JASON BOURNE lacks the same visceral impact that all four prior BOURNE movies had done successfully. Although shot in the same trademark handheld style by Barry Ackroyd, the overall action choreography is seriously nothing to write home about. The fight scenes are messily shot and put together where Ackroyd shake and whip-panned his camera way too much yet too fast to a point of nausea. Even the much talked-about car chase shot on location in Las Vegas is mediocre and pales in comparison to the vehicular chase scenes seen in all four prior BOURNE movies.

However, the biggest disappointment is Greengrass' creative decision to feature most of the major action set-pieces during nighttime. Whether it was a motorcycle chase through the riot-filled city in Athens or the aforementioned Las Vegas-set climactic chase scene, the combination of nighttime location coupled with jittery camerawork makes them even difficult to see the choreography properly. Haven't he and Ackroyd learned their lessons after the way they shot nighttime action scenes with shaky cam in GREEN ZONE six years ago?

As for the cast, the near-silent Matt Damon who reprised his iconic role as Jason Bourne still manages to impress with his physical prowess. But his character isn't as interesting he once used to be. Rising Swedish talent Alicia Vikander, who already made her impact with last year's EX MACHINA and her Oscar-winning supporting role in THE DANISH GIRL, delivers a riveting performance as the ambitious CIA agent Heather Lee. Tommy Lee Jones fails to provide a decent support as CIA director Robert Dewey since he spends half the time looking bored, while Vincent Cassel gives a bland performance as a vengeful CIA "asset".

Nine years ago after THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM ended its trilogy, Damon and Greengrass should have kept their words not to return to the franchise. Even though I applauded the fact that Greengrass tries to make the BOURNE series relevant again for today's generation, sticking to the same old formula isn't going to cut it well.

ALSO READ: Retrospective: The BOURNE Movies

By rehashing the same old formula with little new things to say, JASON BOURNE winds up as a half-hearted chase thriller that feels more like a studio's desperate cash-grab attempt to resuscitate the franchise.

* This review is written courtesy from United International Pictures (UIP) Malaysia press screening *

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