Fresh off a $60 million dollar domestic bow, the Jason Bourne is starting to show its age. It beats Jeremy Renner being a pill popping Bourne, but we can see it in Matt Damon’s eyes. The man just wants to head for the hills and get off the grid.
Until he doesn’t. We find our favorite badass in Greece taking part in the local fight club. Yeah, they ignored rule #1. Why Greece? Hey, when you have the budget, what better way to spend it than a vacation on the Greek Isles. Can’t hate the decision, but there’s no real reason behind it.
Is Bourne making a statement on the refugee crisis? Nope. The upheaval austerity had on the Greek people? Nope. He’s just a man who beats the hell out of people while staying off the grid. Yeah, I read the prepper blogs. The number one suggestion in laying low is being able to knock someone out with one punch…
Perfect way to blend.
Speaking of the one punch knockout. Remember this trailer?
The movie opens with this, and I was excited to see the fight on the big screen. For whatever reason, the shot you see in the trailer was replaced with one from behind Matt Damon’s shoulder knocking the guy out.
It’s a jarring edit after the scene was in every trailer.
Jason Bourne is a Tale of Two Stories
It may be sequel fatigue, but the latest Bourne entry suffers from a lack of a bigger story. In the first half, it felt like we were getting the overarching story. Julia Stiles’ Nicky Parsons is pulling her best Edward Snowden with a gun and hacks into the CIA. It’s here we are introduced to Alicia Vikander’s Heather Lee, head of the CIA’s cyber ops division.
Yeah, it gets a little absurd on the shutting the power grid in Iceland down. Makes for a great scene, but we all know power plants are rocking Windows 95. Hacking in is more likely to make them more efficient than shut them down.
Hey, we have our Bourne story, right? He’ll expose the secret government black ops programs like he did with Treadstone and Blackbriar. Not exactly. Jason just wants to survive, and while he wants to help Nicky, he chastises her for coming out of the shadows. Off the grid Nicky. Damn…
She dangles another piece of his past – the fact that It was Bourne’s father, Richard Webb, who developed the Treadstone program. That gets Bourne onboard, and we have our first action sequence set during a protest in Athens.
And the common refrain in every Bourne movie of: ‘My God, it’s Jason Bourne?’ It was in the trailer but gets watered down when he leads the CIA teams away from Nicky. Whoever did the final edit and the marketing team were not on the same page.
They also spoiled how this sequence ends by implying Nicky’s death in the trailers. What was supposed to be a climactic moment ended up expected.
Jason Bourne Gets Personal
Every Bourne movie has been personal, but you always felt a grander design to the story. He would reluctantly help expose the programs while learning about his identity. We already know he’s David Webb by this film, and now it’s about his father. Was he just an analyst or something more?
Why was he being surveilled before joining Treadstone?
The film hints at a bigger black ops program known as Iron Hand. Think Facebook being, well, Facebook. Deep Dream is the social network of the future that protects your privacy at all costs but actually sells the backdoor to the US government.
Sounds like a great way to give Bourne a grander mission than just finding out about his father. But no, the movie teases the implication Lee and Bourne are working in concert to stop the program, but in the end, the movie’s evil Zuckerberg gets winged by a sniper, and it’s back to spying on everyone.
It’s an odd story arc to a film that has continuously built on government programs being dismantled. Not propped up.
Jason Bourne Subplots With Little Payoff
It seems everyone has serious personal baggage with Bourne or a character in the film.
Vikander’s Lee interaction with Tommy Lee Jones’ CIA director is one of the stranger subplots. Everyone kept referencing personal baggage getting in the way, but the payoffs for the tensions were rather minor. I honestly expected Tommy Lee Jones to be her father at one point.
Or she had some connection with Bourne. Something that would explain the odd tension between the two characters.
Instead, it ends up she’s power hungry and setting herself up as the next potential Director with the DNI as her champion. After offing her boss in Vegas. Makes sense to me.
Another personal vendetta in the film is the asset. In previous films, the CIA assets from the black ops programs were mission oriented. They had no issue going after Bourne, but they were programmed killers. They were not invested in the fight, merely following orders. It’s not a mission to him; it’s always a personal vendetta.
We’ll learn that it was the exposure of Blackbriar that caused the hatred, but that becomes a massive plot hole by the end of the film. It was the asset that killed Bourne’s father in Beirut. That puts him before the Treadstone program and damn sure before Blackbriar.
Sure, Richard Webb was going to expose Treadstone. But a car bomb and then the personal vendetta against Bourne. Someone slipped on this guy’s psych eval.
It’s Time for Jason Bourne to Retire
The healthy box office receipts will get the talk of another film going, but it’s time to put the franchise to bed. Yes, the studio left it open ended after Bourne played Vikanker’s Lee, but the story has gotten too much play. All the ancillary characters from the previous films are dead. We are left with Bourne who wants to stop.
No bringing him back in. That would toss everything about the series out the window and feel weird. He’s fought against you all this time for lying to him and now he suddenly wants to take orders from the CIA? Matt Damon defending the Great Wall is more believable than that possibility.
Jason Bourne is a solid film, but not the pinnacle of the franchise. Let it serve as the endcap of rounding off the history of David Webb and his transformation into a haunted Jason Bourne. Let the man go off the grid and stay there.