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Jason Bourne (2016)
Tonight's Feature Presentation


Starring: Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, Julia Stiles, Vincent Cassel

Written By: Paul Greengrass, Christopher Rouse

Directed By: Paul Greengrass

The Shot

Sure, it’s passable enough as in-one-eyeball-and-out-the-other action candy, but Jason Bourne is an utterly forgettable exercise in redundancy that adds nothing worthwhile to the franchise narrative.  If you’ve enjoyed the series thus far, of course you’ll see it, but be ready for the weakest of Matt Damon’s Bourne flicks.

The Highball

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


Highly processed and reconstituted from familiar stuff.  It’s tasty enough, mind, but nothing memorable or groundbreaking.

Pairs Well With...


It’s the same as the last several, nothing special about it, but you just keep drinking anyway.

“Why would he come back now?”

Shortly after the release of The Bourne Ultimatum, director Paul Greengrass joked that even though the trilogy had pretty neatly tied things off, perhaps there should be a fourth film called The Bourne Redundancy.

When the time came to actually develop a fourth movie for 2012’s release calendar, however, Greengrass and star Matt Damon hated the story they were given and decided to walk away, and so Bourne was written out of his own series, and The Bourne Legacy came to pass… like a kidney stone.  The world was not impressed.

The powers that be, having learned their lesson much like the folks at Eon Productions did after giving George Lazenby a turn as James Bond, decided that if they still wanted a franchise, they’d better put their original man up on the screen again, and hey, why not send him to Vegas, too?  As a result, Matt Damon has been wooed back, and Paul Greengrass has finally gotten his wish by the stroke of his own keyboard: he has made a new film that is very much The Bourne Redundancy.

Okay, so the official title is Jason Bourne, but The Bourne Redundancy it is none the less.

Or perhaps even more to the point, The Bourne Bank Run.

Because let’s face it: there was no compelling narrative reason to go back.  Greengrass and Damon were right the first time when they said that Jason Bourne’s story was wrapped up pretty neatly after the first three movies.  Granted, the world is certainly big enough to allow for plenty of interesting new things to be out there for Mr. Bourne to become entangled in, but Greengrass and company have made no real effort to find them.  Instead, it looks like some interns found a couple of half-baked fragments of news articles about Wikileaks and NSA surveillance, shredded those, then shredded the scripts of the four previous Bourne films into the same receptacle, grabbed a few handfuls of the resulting strip confetti, taped it together, and voila!  Instant Jason Bourne screenplay.

Sadly, I’m not even exaggerating all that much.  Plot points, action sequences, “it ends tonight” (and he means it this time)… it’s all the same, only less coherent, with a result that feels less like a clear narrative than it does “one damn thing after another.”  Hmm… protest march distraction; I remember that one.  Oh, look; another female lead killed off just to make Jason mad!  How quaint!  And hey, even if he’s got his own memory/identity back now, what about his dad, huh?  (Seriously, did anyone even try here?)

Meanwhile, the Wiki/Surveillance stuff is so unbaked that it still tastes like batter.  The dastardly bureaucratic villains hiding in situation rooms perform well enough, one supposes (with Tommy Lee Jones looking tired but stalwart and Alicia Vikander looking too young to be there but acting like she should’ve owned the place decades ago), but they aren’t coherently directed, acting as though their tactics are being governed by a D-20 and the whims of a drunken dungeon master.  As for Bourne himself… in theory he’s got motivations, but Matt Damon frankly looks tired as hell while he goes pinballing around the world as an embodiment of the old Agnes DiPesto misquote: “It’s not just an adventure; it’s a job!”  (In interviews, Damon says he’s having fun, but if that’s true, none of it is showing up on screen.)

It’s sad when the only character that really makes sense throughout the entire film and that presents as being driven by something other than movie runtime is a cardboard cutout stereotype that doesn’t even have a name.  (He’s called “The Asset,” just like the plot devices that came before him.)

And yet… chase scenes.  Fights.  Spy stuff.  Inane tech dialogue.  (“Use SQL to corrupt the databases!”)  Moby.  It’s all pre-chewed fat and no meat, but frankly, I’ve sat through and enjoyed worse.  It also helps that Jason Bourne is a fifth movie instead of a first; if it were something new, I’d say “hell with it” and never bother again, but as part of a franchise, I’m at least somewhat invested.

Not invested enough to call Jason Bourne anything but very low-medicore popcorn and the worst film in the series that doesn’t included the phrase “Directed by Tony Gilroy” in the credits, mind you, but invested enough that I won’t discourage you from giving it a whirl if you’re in the same boat I am.  Assuming that your theatre of choice serves drinks, of course, because they’ll definitely help.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, August, 2016

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


- copyright 2000-2016, Ziggy Berkeley and Cinema on the Rocks, all rights reserved.

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