Jason Bourne, now remembering who he truly is, tries to uncover hidden truths about his past.
I may be in the minority here, but I enjoyed the Matt Damon less ‘The Bourne Legacy’ with Jeremy Renner in the leading role, but it’s great to see the series back on top form with the return of Damon’s titular hero and the outstanding direction of Paul Greengrass. I’m a massive fan of the Bourne series and I’m delighted to report that the fifth entry in the series gave me the same kind of thrills as the earlier entries, even if the plot feels like a retread of previous events to a certain extent. Shady government programmes and organisations have always played a big part of the Bourne series, and ‘Jason Bourne’ is no exception, as the legacy of Treadstone continues to play a key role as a new surveillance programme known as ‘Ironhand’ is launched by the CIA.
The film begins by introducing us to a raft of new agency figures who are alerted to the potential resurfacing of Jason Bourne after they discover his old contact Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) searching through old Treadstone files in Reykjavik. Following that trail leads to Athens at the height of the recent riots, where all of the main players start to converge in a pulsating sequence that puts you right in the midst of the chaos as Nicky and Bourne seek to evade the authorities. Those authorities are led by CIA director Robert Dewey, played by Tommy Lee Jones, who adds to the series long list of elderly, white male authoritative figures causing problems for Bourne. The superb cast also includes an international flavour with Vincent Cassel’s hitman and Alicia Vikander’s CIA agent supporting Dewey in his role. Vikander is particularly impressive, bringing nuance to a challenging role as an agent whose loyalties are never easy to decipher.
The Bourne films have often focused on the past to tell their stories, but it’s never felt as prevalent as it does here as Bourne sets out to find out what happened to his father and how he ended up in the Treadstone programme to begin with. The way this information is parcelled out isn’t as smooth as it could be and it feels a little neat at times, but it serves its purpose as Bourne’s main motivation for coming in from the cold. This is complimented by a secondary plot focusing on an up and coming tech company, led by Riz Ahmed’s Aaron Kalloor, with secretive links to the CIA’s Ironhand programme. This dovetails nicely with the legacy of Treadstone and allows the narrative to play around with the nature of surveillance and the debate it drives between security and privacy. In the era of Edward Snowden and ever improving technology, the battle between the two viewpoints is depicted well in the context of ‘Jason Bourne’.
The direction from Paul Greengrass is terrific and fans of the series will get more high end thrills, with some exceptionally choreographed action sequences across locations such as London, Las Vegas and Athens in particular. The camerawork and editing really comes to the fore in the Athens sequence, creating an immersive and kinetic experience that follows the characters by car, bike and foot as the CIA close in on them. This is breathless filmmaking and reinforces what a master Paul Greengrass is in this regard.
It’s been almost ten years since Jason Bourne’s last appearance and it’s great to have him back, and on the evidence of ‘Jason Bourne’, there’s plenty of legs left in this series and his story.
Directed By: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles, Riz Ahmed, Ato Essandoh, Scott Shepherd, Bill Camp, Vinzenz Kiefer, Stephen Kunken and Gregg Henry
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