Jason Bourne is my favourite action hero. He still is, even after what they did to him in the last movie.
The Bourne Identity starring Matt Damon is the first action film I remember watching when I was young. It’s what got me into action movies in the first place, and what started a two year obsession with anything written by Robert Ludlum, the author of the original Bourne books.
Jason Bourne is quite a distinctive character in the world of tough manly badass action heroes. While he’s just as dangerous as any of the others, his history is what really sets him apart. It is the continued search for his past, ever since he woke up in the middle of the mediterranean with a severe case of amnesia. And now, after almost ten years of waiting, Jason Bourne is back on the big screen. Yes, I am aware of Bourne Legacy, the misnamed clusterfuck of a movie that somehow forgot to include the character it was named for. I don’t care that it came out less than ten years ago. It doesn’t count. So now that we got that out of the way, let’s get to the new Jason Bourne, and why I love Jason Bourne and hate this movie.
Jason Bourne shares his initials with a number of famous action heroes, most famously James Bond. While James Bond is a gentleman, saving the world with his pretty flashy cars and gadgets, Jason has never cared for gadgets, mainly because he’s usually on the run, and really doesn’t have time to go gadget shopping. So he improvises. This is what makes him so wonderful to watch and absolutely deadly. In his hands, anything can become a deadly weapon. He doesn’t rely on guns, he’s happy to use toasters, pens, newspapers and any other everyday object that may be useful, and in his hands, they all turn deadly. He’s also happy to use public transport. Can you imagine James Bond getting on a bus? Not really, but Jason Bourne is happy to use any old junker car, trains, mopeds and trams. He doesn’t care, he’s there to get a job done, and he’ll do just that. This drive and single mindedness has also been apparent in Matt Damon’s portrayal of Jason Bourne. The way he walks, the way he talks, or rather, doesn’t talk, is always filled with a purpose. There are no superficial embellishments anywhere.
Now, you may have noticed that I have yet to mention anything about the new movie, even though this is supposedly a review. That’s mainly because Jason Bourne the movie seems to have forgotten about Jason Bourne, the character. Oh, he’s still there. In fact, I think the first five minutes of the film might be the most accurate representation of Bourne we have yet seen in a movie. Sadly though, that is just an appetiser of what is not to come. Because for the next half hour, we are treated to a bad episode of CSI Cyber. Technobabble takes over, starting with random SQL injections, and ending with the dreaded “Enhance the picture!”. Bourne is delegated to a few action scenes, which are an absolute treat to anybody who loved the quick and close up fights of the other Bourne movies, the hallmark of director Paul Greengrass.
Sadly though, they keep getting interrupted by yet more scenes of CIA agents at Langley playing hackers. There’s a lot of these CIA agents, most notably Alicia Vikander as Heather Lee, who manages to perfectly portray an emotionally dead CIA robot. Just like all the others, she’s plotting and scheming, which isn’t something we haven’t seen before in a Bourne film. It’s just the first time they’ve seen to be taking the lead, and just can’t seem to be able to keep quiet about what they’re doing on their computers. They hack just about anything they come across, from power grids to passport control. The CIA has always used technology to try and catch up with Jason Bourne, but never to this extent. What used to be a method to move the plot along a bit faster, has now become the plot.
Luckily enough though, they had to had at least one agent on the ground for Jason Bourne to shoot at, and as usual they picked another secret CIA assassin. This time, he’s just called the asset, played by Vincent Cassel. There’s very little that can go wrong with this idea, and the chase between the asset and Jason Bourne is exactly what I was hoping for. If this had been the whole movie, I would have been overjoyed.
But the end, I just feel cheated. Matt Damon is right there, on screen, playing the greatest action hero, according to me anyway. But instead of getting a full feature film, I get what maybe amounts to a short TV special, interrupted by the worst hacker movie of the year. It’s not what I was hoping for at all, but seeing as it’s likely the only Bourne I’ll get for the next 10 years, I guess I’ll take it, and hate myself for it.