REVIEW: New ‘Bourne’ Doesn’t Live Up To Original Trilogy

Move over Jeremy Renner, Matt Damon is back in the franchise again.

“Jason Bourne” once again follows the titular character, played by Damon, who’s now gone off the grid since the events of 2007’s “The Bourne Ultimatum.” While being out of the government’s eye, though, he still doesn’t find much peace, as he spends most of his days in street fights.

His life out of the espionage world is cut short, though, when a woman from his past, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) informs him more about who he was before he became Bourne and that the government is starting a dangerous new program. This encounter puts Bourne back on the map, and subsequently, back on the run.

While the 2012 film “Bourne Legacy” starring Renner wasn’t without its flaws, it deserves credit for taking a new spin on the series. While keeping the espionage feel, “Legacy” introduced some new aspects and kept things rather fresh. Unfortunately, “Jason Bourne” returns the series to something far too familiar without bringing anything new to the table.

First of all, the film’s story seems very tacked on. “The Bourne Ultimatum,” a personal favorite of mine, ended the original trilogy very well and left Bourne’s character with a good finish. In that sense, this latest piece to the series felt like a movie in search of a story, the whole conflict just seemed like a desperate attempt to get Bourne out of his ‘retirement.’ It simply feels forced.

Another issue was that the story is executed in a way that’s far to similar to the other Bourne movies, he’s on the run from a government agency trying to figure out a new piece to his life. It’s fine staying within the same genre lines as the previous films, but this just had a ‘been there, done that’ feel from start to finish.

What the movie could have used is some kind of twist, maybe Bourne being forced to help the CIA or something. Just have an aspect help break the mold.

The performances are all given by an experienced, talented cast which does raise the bar a bit. Damon, obviously, knows his character well and does give some strength to the picture.

That said, even with the good cast, some of the them seemed a little bland. Tommy Lee Jones seemed a bit phoned in as the CIA Director, lacking some of the intensity he’s shown in other pictures, such as “The Fugitive.” Alicia Vikander, meanwhile, who was fantastic in “Ex Machina” and “The Danish Girl,” felt dull here and Vincent Cassel played a rather forgettable assassin antagonist.

The biggest compliment “Jason Bourne” can get is that it was a technically sound picture. Director Paul Greengrass is fantastic when it comes to action thrillers and shows it here. There are some very well made espionage sequences and they can excite an audience.

With that said, there is a chase scene toward the film’s end that seemed a bit over-the-top. So much so that it felt like it was meant for a “Fast and Furious” movie rather than a “Bourne” one.

“Jason Bourne” simply doesn’t bring enough to the screen to be a memorable entry to the franchise. While Damon does deliver in his performance and the movie is well crafted, the film overall is forgettable. Wait to rent this one. 2 out of 5.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

My name is Matthew Liedke. I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, but I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I now write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where I studied journalism and film. Outside of film, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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