Jason Bourne

Greengrass has the last laugh!


Jason Bourne

  • Greengrass has the last laugh!

Jason Bourne

  • Greengrass has the last laugh!


Rated

PG-13

Starring

Matt Damon
Alicia Vikander
Tommy Lee Jones
Vincent Cassel
Julia Stiles

Written by

Paul Greengrass
Christopher Rouse

Directed by

Paul Greengrass



WHAT TO EXPECT

For viewers of the original Jason Bourne trilogy, the wait’s been an uncomfortable decade long. Of course, for Paul Greengrass—director of The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)—it hasn’t. He was done with the universe and wanted to move on and cross more unchartered territories.

And with Captain Phillips and Green Zone, he almost did.

Damon and Greengrass were trying different things out. For the actor, of late, there were experiments like Elysium and The Monuments Men. And while not all the films he’s been a part of worked as well as they could have for varied reasons, it is but agreeable that Damon was all about trying something different every time—a family drama here, a supernatural drama there, and then one based on the true story of a whistleblower… there were going to be better things to do.

Until, of course, when the announcement of Greengrass and Damon returning for yet another installment of (what’s now not a) trilogy dropped over a majority of entertainment news outlets, and people went berserk. What would the next Bourne movie be titled, they’d ask. Where would they go now? A valid question, this, especially considering how averse studios have been to risk-taking of late. I, for one, secretly hoped the makers wouldn’t be bogged down by the pressure of replicating Ultimatum’s success. Mostly, however, I just wanted to watch an involving film.

Laden with fears and hopes while walking into the cinema, the answer to my questions was waiting through but the runtime of the movie in itself.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

It’s a typical day for Heather Lee at the CIA headquarters in Langley. Of course, things don’t look as pretty on the other side of the globe in Iceland. Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) seems to have uncovered something graver than Operation Treadstone. And she needs to reach Jason Bourne (Damon), now often thought of as lore, almost nine years in. The unwitting chain of events Parsons begins unravels a lot more about Bourne than he’d have ever liked to know, much to the horror of those who want the secrets dead, and the fascination of Lee, who’s only just started.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

"Somebody that I used to know..."

“Somebody that I used to know…”

Supremacy and Ultimatum went so far off the trajectory of Robert Ludlum’s original trilogy (now no longer one, thanks to a certain Eric Van Lustbader on an irreverent writing rampage, spawning so many post-Ultimatum Bourne novels nobody seems to care anymore) that it almost appears to have, with the exception of a few characters, become its own, strange beast—one that’s just what it is, without the basic storytelling rules that usually apply to movies of any genre. This franchise was a beast that dared to have a protagonist viewers wanted to like and root for, while simultaneously breaking many of the rules of likability in the process. Jason Bourne was an oddly specific breed of anti-hero that was more ruthless, selfish and relentless than your (un)friendly neighborhood villain, but whose prioritized presence somehow made sense.

(It is precisely why, with the final pieces of the overall conspiratorial puzzle, Ultimatum’s finale acts like a strange burden on viewers. Morality is a blur, the world is a strange place, and nobody is inherently right or wrong. Everybody is just somebody, trying their hardest not to die every day).

Jason Bourne takes those very rules of its eponymous lead forward. His life is in limbo, and his only purpose right now is to survive, one day at a time. Supremacy’s Goa this ain’t. He still pins others down to get to his destination (and in this particular case, that would be financial gain). The empathy in Damon’s eyes is non-existent—and why’d it be otherwise? He is, after all, no saint. The world around him, however, is unstoppable. And this is what Greengrass molds to his advantage like he always has.

Resolution wraps everything up, but few show the ugly aftermath of neatly wrapped up bouts of victory.Ankit Ojha
Frenemies

Frenemies

That the franchise—with the exclusion of The Bourne Legacy—has been running almost entirely concurrent to the political climates of the world continues to be a towering bonus to the films’ storytelling capabilities. The 5th Bourne film does just the same, essentially allowing this movie, while holding on to its trademark stylistic decisions, to still be a strangely different beast that will polarize its audience. Bourne, like us, survives in a post-Snowden world where the stakes are higher, and the debate between privacy and national security is at an all-time high. Fictional corporation DeepDream’s stand on privacy and its owner’s strong fight against its invasion echoes tech giant Apple’s fight against order to keep its encryption safe (inclusive of an ensuing court order to provide motive to the organization). Its chilling reinterpretation makes things a lot more sinister.

A tired Bourne, sans any empathy, doesn’t help the proceedings either. But, you see, that’s been the game plan for the franchise all along—to run with a protagonist who doesn’t care about anything but himself, because he’s almost left with nothing to care about. It’s not his dodgy memory, nor the people he’s loved and lost, or even the memory of those who’ve wronged him and those he’s wronged; it’s his instinct to survive that keeps him alive. His long-running trust issues come to him at the cost of having no interpersonal relations, but it’s what keeps his lifeline running.

(Additionally, within all the chaos there’s an uncomfortable conversation about power that the movie manages to have throughout its runtime without literally having it. It’s there, deep inside the crevices of its storytelling if you manage to spot it).

You don't know his name

You don’t know his name

For those, however, who cannot bother with these things, Jason Bourne offers to be a competent action flick that works brilliantly on Greengrass’ vision of every action set-piece, brought to life through his regular cinematographic collaborator Barry Aykroyd’s urgent documentary-styled shooting (one that has unfortunately managed to spawn many an action film with the worst action set-pieces shot handheld). The very visceral nature of the movie’s action is only upped by Christopher Rouse’s sharp, calculated cuts and John Powell’s looming soundtrack. The makers don’t give their film’s audience any space to breathe—or think, for that matter. Once they do manage to figure, however, the many swiftly cut scenes that lead up to any action have these minuscule things going on within their frames that are easy to miss. Greengrass, of course, is not in a mood to co-operate with exposition, whether within the confines of scripted or visual storytelling.

This very decision of his will serve to divide audiences. The makers leave the movie up to interpretation in a world that doesn’t want to interpret a mainstream action blockbuster. Bourne is, essentially, as confused as the film’s audience is about why he’s back. But that’s the point. He’s (now) just a tired man who desperately wants people to be out of his business, but who’s almost always thrust into situations that force him to face the very elements of life he’s been trying to block out since time immemorial. Here’s someone who’s almost always on the precipice between being David Webb and being Jason Bourne that, for once, he’s as clueless as we are as to who he really is anymore. And that looks like it’s been Greengrass’s primary intent. He did not, after all, want to tell us another Bourne story. Strangely enough, the movie feels like his last laugh. This story pushes us through enough uncomfortable truths when it’s not high on chases; that there is no happily ever after. This is an obscure movie with morally ambiguous characters in a situation of unrest and distrust—one that clearly echoes life. Resolution wraps everything up, but few show the ugly aftermath of neatly wrapped up bouts of victory.

And the movie’s title in itself shouts it loud and clear. There’s nothing but a shell of a man here; of the previous events that continue to haunt “Jason Bourne”. He’s aware of his Identity. There’s no Supremacy. There’s no Ultimatum. And he wants nothing to do with his Legacy (ha!). Sure, one would like to know a lot more by the end of this film, but the character now has a sense of finality; of closure. If there ever is a future movie, we should be getting a different kind of action film—one that hopefully has nothing to do with bothering him, but with him bothering others for a possible purpose.

TO PERFORM OR NOT TO PERFORM

No Ultimatum

No Ultimatum

Let’s just completely focus on Alicia Vikander (Ex_Machina) before anyone else. She’s a powerful addition to the cast, bringing in a kind of electrifying dynamism even a rather experienced Tommy Lee Jones couldn’t. Her body language is subtle, allowing her character Heather Lee’s actions to almost always keep viewers on  their toes. Time and again, Vikander continues to prove herself as a shining example of multidimensional talent, and this film is just another example of just that.

Jones is functional, but with little that his character really has to do, there’s mot much that can be spoken of him than as a drawling antagonistic force that echoes the drawling antagonistic forces of other Bourne films. Riz Ahmed is fun while he lasts. Vincent Cassel packs in a surprising amount of emotional dynamism to a character known only as the “Asset” (no, seriously, there’s nothing more we know of him, which will frustrate and fascinate in equal measure). Julia Stiles is such a welcome face, even if she doesn’t appear for very long.

Matt Damon, though. Here’s an actor who still has it in him to continue convincing his audience to believe in the characters he plays. And with Bourne, it’s almost as if he never left. The conviction with which he takes up the mantle of an old, worn-out ex-assassin haunted by the demons of his past, constantly questioning the purpose of his existence (without actively seeming to) is astounding and, frankly, deserves our complete attention. Here is someone who’s one of the only reasons we’re seeing a fifth Bourne film—not because he wanted to come back, but because his terrific performance pushed studios and fans to account for one more film in the universe, if not many. (And from what I read, Chairman of Universal Pictures Donna Langley isn’t done with the involvement of Damon and Greengrass in the franchise just yet. Having watched Jason Bourne thus, I don’t seem to disagree either. Yet).

WORTH IT?

Jason Bourne is the kind of film that some will love, some will hate, and some will question the presence of. It does not, however, disappoint, both from the stylistic eye of Paul Greengrass, or from the perspective of its narrative, which is bleak and, almost poetically, full of questionable people bringing our titular character back in every time he thinks he’s out. Filled with the most riotously visceral action set-pieces, the film doesn’t forget what made it so popular, catering to the many action fans that hailed the grit the films before this (once again, leaving Legacy out of this) had.

To recommend this would be a tricky ballgame, for expectations are, after all, subjective. It would be safe to say, though, that even those who do not have much to hold on to will find a serviceable, almost breathless action film with enough tension to hold to through until the end. Give this one a try. I, in the meanwhile, am probably on my way to help myself with a second viewing.

Consensus: 4.5 Stars
Extraordinary!
About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

Watch the trailer

We’re viral

Like UsFollow Us


Rated

PG-13

Starring

Matt Damon
Alicia Vikander
Tommy Lee Jones
Vincent Cassel
Julia Stiles

Written by

Paul Greengrass
Christopher Rouse

Directed by

Paul Greengrass



WHAT TO EXPECT

For viewers of the original Jason Bourne trilogy, the wait’s been an uncomfortable decade long. Of course, for Paul Greengrass—director of The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)—it hasn’t. He was done with the universe and wanted to move on and cross more unchartered territories.

And with Captain Phillips and Green Zone, he almost did.

Damon and Greengrass were trying different things out. For the actor, of late, there were experiments like Elysium and The Monuments Men. And while not all the films he’s been a part of worked as well as they could have for varied reasons, it is but agreeable that Damon was all about trying something different every time—a family drama here, a supernatural drama there, and then one based on the true story of a whistleblower… there were going to be better things to do.

Until, of course, when the announcement of Greengrass and Damon returning for yet another installment of (what’s now not a) trilogy dropped over a majority of entertainment news outlets, and people went berserk. What would the next Bourne movie be titled, they’d ask. Where would they go now? A valid question, this, especially considering how averse studios have been to risk-taking of late. I, for one, secretly hoped the makers wouldn’t be bogged down by the pressure of replicating Ultimatum’s success. Mostly, however, I just wanted to watch an involving film.

Laden with fears and hopes while walking into the cinema, the answer to my questions was waiting through but the runtime of the movie in itself.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

It’s a typical day for Heather Lee at the CIA headquarters in Langley. Of course, things don’t look as pretty on the other side of the globe in Iceland. Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) seems to have uncovered something graver than Operation Treadstone. And she needs to reach Jason Bourne (Damon), now often thought of as lore, almost nine years in. The unwitting chain of events Parsons begins unravels a lot more about Bourne than he’d have ever liked to know, much to the horror of those who want the secrets dead, and the fascination of Lee, who’s only just started.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

"Somebody that I used to know..."

“Somebody that I used to know…”

Supremacy and Ultimatum went so far off the trajectory of Robert Ludlum’s original trilogy (now no longer one, thanks to a certain Eric Van Lustbader on an irreverent writing rampage, spawning so many post-Ultimatum Bourne novels nobody seems to care anymore) that it almost appears to have, with the exception of a few characters, become its own, strange beast—one that’s just what it is, without the basic storytelling rules that usually apply to movies of any genre. This franchise was a beast that dared to have a protagonist viewers wanted to like and root for, while simultaneously breaking many of the rules of likability in the process. Jason Bourne was an oddly specific breed of anti-hero that was more ruthless, selfish and relentless than your (un)friendly neighborhood villain, but whose prioritized presence somehow made sense.

(It is precisely why, with the final pieces of the overall conspiratorial puzzle, Ultimatum’s finale acts like a strange burden on viewers. Morality is a blur, the world is a strange place, and nobody is inherently right or wrong. Everybody is just somebody, trying their hardest not to die every day).

Jason Bourne takes those very rules of its eponymous lead forward. His life is in limbo, and his only purpose right now is to survive, one day at a time. Supremacy’s Goa this ain’t. He still pins others down to get to his destination (and in this particular case, that would be financial gain). The empathy in Damon’s eyes is non-existent—and why’d it be otherwise? He is, after all, no saint. The world around him, however, is unstoppable. And this is what Greengrass molds to his advantage like he always has.

Resolution wraps everything up, but few show the ugly aftermath of neatly wrapped up bouts of victory.Ankit Ojha
Frenemies

Frenemies

That the franchise—with the exclusion of The Bourne Legacy—has been running almost entirely concurrent to the political climates of the world continues to be a towering bonus to the films’ storytelling capabilities. The 5th Bourne film does just the same, essentially allowing this movie, while holding on to its trademark stylistic decisions, to still be a strangely different beast that will polarize its audience. Bourne, like us, survives in a post-Snowden world where the stakes are higher, and the debate between privacy and national security is at an all-time high. Fictional corporation DeepDream’s stand on privacy and its owner’s strong fight against its invasion echoes tech giant Apple’s fight against order to keep its encryption safe (inclusive of an ensuing court order to provide motive to the organization). Its chilling reinterpretation makes things a lot more sinister.

A tired Bourne, sans any empathy, doesn’t help the proceedings either. But, you see, that’s been the game plan for the franchise all along—to run with a protagonist who doesn’t care about anything but himself, because he’s almost left with nothing to care about. It’s not his dodgy memory, nor the people he’s loved and lost, or even the memory of those who’ve wronged him and those he’s wronged; it’s his instinct to survive that keeps him alive. His long-running trust issues come to him at the cost of having no interpersonal relations, but it’s what keeps his lifeline running.

(Additionally, within all the chaos there’s an uncomfortable conversation about power that the movie manages to have throughout its runtime without literally having it. It’s there, deep inside the crevices of its storytelling if you manage to spot it).

You don't know his name

You don’t know his name

For those, however, who cannot bother with these things, Jason Bourne offers to be a competent action flick that works brilliantly on Greengrass’ vision of every action set-piece, brought to life through his regular cinematographic collaborator Barry Aykroyd’s urgent documentary-styled shooting (one that has unfortunately managed to spawn many an action film with the worst action set-pieces shot handheld). The very visceral nature of the movie’s action is only upped by Christopher Rouse’s sharp, calculated cuts and John Powell’s looming soundtrack. The makers don’t give their film’s audience any space to breathe—or think, for that matter. Once they do manage to figure, however, the many swiftly cut scenes that lead up to any action have these minuscule things going on within their frames that are easy to miss. Greengrass, of course, is not in a mood to co-operate with exposition, whether within the confines of scripted or visual storytelling.

This very decision of his will serve to divide audiences. The makers leave the movie up to interpretation in a world that doesn’t want to interpret a mainstream action blockbuster. Bourne is, essentially, as confused as the film’s audience is about why he’s back. But that’s the point. He’s (now) just a tired man who desperately wants people to be out of his business, but who’s almost always thrust into situations that force him to face the very elements of life he’s been trying to block out since time immemorial. Here’s someone who’s almost always on the precipice between being David Webb and being Jason Bourne that, for once, he’s as clueless as we are as to who he really is anymore. And that looks like it’s been Greengrass’s primary intent. He did not, after all, want to tell us another Bourne story. Strangely enough, the movie feels like his last laugh. This story pushes us through enough uncomfortable truths when it’s not high on chases; that there is no happily ever after. This is an obscure movie with morally ambiguous characters in a situation of unrest and distrust—one that clearly echoes life. Resolution wraps everything up, but few show the ugly aftermath of neatly wrapped up bouts of victory.

And the movie’s title in itself shouts it loud and clear. There’s nothing but a shell of a man here; of the previous events that continue to haunt “Jason Bourne”. He’s aware of his Identity. There’s no Supremacy. There’s no Ultimatum. And he wants nothing to do with his Legacy (ha!). Sure, one would like to know a lot more by the end of this film, but the character now has a sense of finality; of closure. If there ever is a future movie, we should be getting a different kind of action film—one that hopefully has nothing to do with bothering him, but with him bothering others for a possible purpose.

TO PERFORM OR NOT TO PERFORM

No Ultimatum

No Ultimatum

Let’s just completely focus on Alicia Vikander (Ex_Machina) before anyone else. She’s a powerful addition to the cast, bringing in a kind of electrifying dynamism even a rather experienced Tommy Lee Jones couldn’t. Her body language is subtle, allowing her character Heather Lee’s actions to almost always keep viewers on  their toes. Time and again, Vikander continues to prove herself as a shining example of multidimensional talent, and this film is just another example of just that.

Jones is functional, but with little that his character really has to do, there’s mot much that can be spoken of him than as a drawling antagonistic force that echoes the drawling antagonistic forces of other Bourne films. Riz Ahmed is fun while he lasts. Vincent Cassel packs in a surprising amount of emotional dynamism to a character known only as the “Asset” (no, seriously, there’s nothing more we know of him, which will frustrate and fascinate in equal measure). Julia Stiles is such a welcome face, even if she doesn’t appear for very long.

Matt Damon, though. Here’s an actor who still has it in him to continue convincing his audience to believe in the characters he plays. And with Bourne, it’s almost as if he never left. The conviction with which he takes up the mantle of an old, worn-out ex-assassin haunted by the demons of his past, constantly questioning the purpose of his existence (without actively seeming to) is astounding and, frankly, deserves our complete attention. Here is someone who’s one of the only reasons we’re seeing a fifth Bourne film—not because he wanted to come back, but because his terrific performance pushed studios and fans to account for one more film in the universe, if not many. (And from what I read, Chairman of Universal Pictures Donna Langley isn’t done with the involvement of Damon and Greengrass in the franchise just yet. Having watched Jason Bourne thus, I don’t seem to disagree either. Yet).

WORTH IT?

Jason Bourne is the kind of film that some will love, some will hate, and some will question the presence of. It does not, however, disappoint, both from the stylistic eye of Paul Greengrass, or from the perspective of its narrative, which is bleak and, almost poetically, full of questionable people bringing our titular character back in every time he thinks he’s out. Filled with the most riotously visceral action set-pieces, the film doesn’t forget what made it so popular, catering to the many action fans that hailed the grit the films before this (once again, leaving Legacy out of this) had.

To recommend this would be a tricky ballgame, for expectations are, after all, subjective. It would be safe to say, though, that even those who do not have much to hold on to will find a serviceable, almost breathless action film with enough tension to hold to through until the end. Give this one a try. I, in the meanwhile, am probably on my way to help myself with a second viewing.

Consensus: 4.5 Stars
Extraordinary!
About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

Watch the trailer

We’re viral

Like UsFollow Us

Cast Matt Damon
Alicia Vikander
Tommy Lee Jones
Director Paul Greengrass
Consensus: 4.5 Stars
Extraordinary!

WHAT TO EXPECT

Jason Who?

Jason Who?

For viewers of the original Jason Bourne trilogy, the wait’s been an uncomfortable decade long. Of course, for Paul Greengrass—director of The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)—it hasn’t. He was done with the universe and wanted to move on and cross more unchartered territories.

And with Captain Phillips and Green Zone, he almost did.

Damon and Greengrass were trying different things out. For the actor, of late, there were experiments like Elysium and The Monuments Men. And while not all the films he’s been a part of worked as well as they could have for varied reasons, it is but agreeable that Damon was all about trying something different every time—a family drama here, a supernatural drama there, and then one based on the true story of a whistleblower… there were going to be better things to do.

Until, of course, when the announcement of Greengrass and Damon returning for yet another installment of (what’s now not a) trilogy dropped over a majority of entertainment news outlets, and people went berserk. What would the next Bourne movie be titled, they’d ask. Where would they go now? A valid question, this, especially considering how averse studios have been to risk-taking of late. I, for one, secretly hoped the makers wouldn’t be bogged down by the pressure of replicating Ultimatum’s success. Mostly, however, I just wanted to watch an involving film.

Laden with fears and hopes while walking into the cinema, the answer to my questions was waiting through but the runtime of the movie in itself.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

It’s a typical day for Heather Lee at the CIA headquarters in Langley. Of course, things don’t look as pretty on the other side of the globe in Iceland. Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) seems to have uncovered something graver than Operation Treadstone. And she needs to reach Jason Bourne (Damon), now often thought of as lore, almost nine years in. The unwitting chain of events Parsons begins unravels a lot more about Bourne than he’d have ever liked to know, much to the horror of those who want the secrets dead, and the fascination of Lee, who’s only just started.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

"Somebody that I used to know..."

“Somebody that I used to know…”

Supremacy and Ultimatum went so far off the trajectory of Robert Ludlum’s original trilogy (now no longer one, thanks to a certain Eric Van Lustbader on an irreverent writing rampage, spawning so many post-Ultimatum Bourne novels nobody seems to care anymore) that it almost appears to have, with the exception of a few characters, become its own, strange beast—one that’s just what it is, without the basic storytelling rules that usually apply to movies of any genre. This franchise was a beast that dared to have a protagonist viewers wanted to like and root for, while simultaneously breaking many of the rules of likability in the process. Jason Bourne was an oddly specific breed of anti-hero that was more ruthless, selfish and relentless than your (un)friendly neighborhood villain, but whose prioritized presence somehow made sense.

(It is precisely why, with the final pieces of the overall conspiratorial puzzle, Ultimatum’s finale acts like a strange burden on viewers. Morality is a blur, the world is a strange place, and nobody is inherently right or wrong. Everybody is just somebody, trying their hardest not to die every day).

Jason Bourne takes those very rules of its eponymous lead forward. His life is in limbo, and his only purpose right now is to survive, one day at a time. Supremacy’s Goa this ain’t. He still pins others down to get to his destination (and in this particular case, that would be financial gain). The empathy in Damon’s eyes is non-existent—and why’d it be otherwise? He is, after all, no saint. The world around him, however, is unstoppable. And this is what Greengrass molds to his advantage like he always has.

Resolution wraps everything up, but few show the ugly aftermath of neatly wrapped up bouts of victory.Ankit Ojha
Frenemies

Frenemies

That the franchise—with the exclusion of The Bourne Legacy—has been running almost entirely concurrent to the political climates of the world continues to be a towering bonus to the films’ storytelling capabilities. The 5th Bourne film does just the same, essentially allowing this movie, while holding on to its trademark stylistic decisions, to still be a strangely different beast that will polarize its audience. Bourne, like us, survives in a post-Snowden world where the stakes are higher, and the debate between privacy and national security is at an all-time high. Fictional corporation DeepDream’s stand on privacy and its owner’s strong fight against its invasion echoes tech giant Apple’s fight against order to keep its encryption safe (inclusive of an ensuing court order to provide motive to the organization). Its chilling reinterpretation makes things a lot more sinister.

A tired Bourne, sans any empathy, doesn’t help the proceedings either. But, you see, that’s been the game plan for the franchise all along—to run with a protagonist who doesn’t care about anything but himself, because he’s almost left with nothing to care about. It’s not his dodgy memory, nor the people he’s loved and lost, or even the memory of those who’ve wronged him and those he’s wronged; it’s his instinct to survive that keeps him alive. His long-running trust issues come to him at the cost of having no interpersonal relations, but it’s what keeps his lifeline running.

(Additionally, within all the chaos there’s an uncomfortable conversation about power that the movie manages to have throughout its runtime without literally having it. It’s there, deep inside the crevices of its storytelling if you manage to spot it).

You don't know his name

You don’t know his name

For those, however, who cannot bother with these things, Jason Bourne offers to be a competent action flick that works brilliantly on Greengrass’ vision of every action set-piece, brought to life through his regular cinematographic collaborator Barry Aykroyd’s urgent documentary-styled shooting (one that has unfortunately managed to spawn many an action film with the worst action set-pieces shot handheld). The very visceral nature of the movie’s action is only upped by Christopher Rouse’s sharp, calculated cuts and John Powell’s looming soundtrack. The makers don’t give their film’s audience any space to breathe—or think, for that matter. Once they do manage to figure, however, the many swiftly cut scenes that lead up to any action have these minuscule things going on within their frames that are easy to miss. Greengrass, of course, is not in a mood to co-operate with exposition, whether within the confines of scripted or visual storytelling.

This very decision of his will serve to divide audiences. The makers leave the movie up to interpretation in a world that doesn’t want to interpret a mainstream action blockbuster. Bourne is, essentially, as confused as the film’s audience is about why he’s back. But that’s the point. He’s (now) just a tired man who desperately wants people to be out of his business, but who’s almost always thrust into situations that force him to face the very elements of life he’s been trying to block out since time immemorial. Here’s someone who’s almost always on the precipice between being David Webb and being Jason Bourne that, for once, he’s as clueless as we are as to who he really is anymore. And that looks like it’s been Greengrass’s primary intent. He did not, after all, want to tell us another Bourne story. Strangely enough, the movie feels like his last laugh. This story pushes us through enough uncomfortable truths when it’s not high on chases; that there is no happily ever after. This is an obscure movie with morally ambiguous characters in a situation of unrest and distrust—one that clearly echoes life. Resolution wraps everything up, but few show the ugly aftermath of neatly wrapped up bouts of victory.

And the movie’s title in itself shouts it loud and clear. There’s nothing but a shell of a man here; of the previous events that continue to haunt “Jason Bourne”. He’s aware of his Identity. There’s no Supremacy. There’s no Ultimatum. And he wants nothing to do with his Legacy (ha!). Sure, one would like to know a lot more by the end of this film, but the character now has a sense of finality; of closure. If there ever is a future movie, we should be getting a different kind of action film—one that hopefully has nothing to do with bothering him, but with him bothering others for a possible purpose.

TO PERFORM OR NOT TO PERFORM

No Ultimatum

No Ultimatum

Let’s just completely focus on Alicia Vikander (Ex_Machina) before anyone else. She’s a powerful addition to the cast, bringing in a kind of electrifying dynamism even a rather experienced Tommy Lee Jones couldn’t. Her body language is subtle, allowing her character Heather Lee’s actions to almost always keep viewers on  their toes. Time and again, Vikander continues to prove herself as a shining example of multidimensional talent, and this film is just another example of just that.

Jones is functional, but with little that his character really has to do, there’s mot much that can be spoken of him than as a drawling antagonistic force that echoes the drawling antagonistic forces of other Bourne films. Riz Ahmed is fun while he lasts. Vincent Cassel packs in a surprising amount of emotional dynamism to a character known only as the “Asset” (no, seriously, there’s nothing more we know of him, which will frustrate and fascinate in equal measure). Julia Stiles is such a welcome face, even if she doesn’t appear for very long.

Matt Damon, though. Here’s an actor who still has it in him to continue convincing his audience to believe in the characters he plays. And with Bourne, it’s almost as if he never left. The conviction with which he takes up the mantle of an old, worn-out ex-assassin haunted by the demons of his past, constantly questioning the purpose of his existence (without actively seeming to) is astounding and, frankly, deserves our complete attention. Here is someone who’s one of the only reasons we’re seeing a fifth Bourne film—not because he wanted to come back, but because his terrific performance pushed studios and fans to account for one more film in the universe, if not many. (And from what I read, Chairman of Universal Pictures Donna Langley isn’t done with the involvement of Damon and Greengrass in the franchise just yet. Having watched Jason Bourne thus, I don’t seem to disagree either. Yet).

WORTH IT?

Jason Bourne is the kind of film that some will love, some will hate, and some will question the presence of. It does not, however, disappoint, both from the stylistic eye of Paul Greengrass, or from the perspective of its narrative, which is bleak and, almost poetically, full of questionable people bringing our titular character back in every time he thinks he’s out. Filled with the most riotously visceral action set-pieces, the film doesn’t forget what made it so popular, catering to the many action fans that hailed the grit the films before this (once again, leaving Legacy out of this) had.

To recommend this would be a tricky ballgame, for expectations are, after all, subjective. It would be safe to say, though, that even those who do not have much to hold on to will find a serviceable, almost breathless action film with enough tension to hold to through until the end. Give this one a try. I, in the meanwhile, am probably on my way to help myself with a second viewing.

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

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Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

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Cast Matt Damon
Alicia Vikander
Tommy Lee Jones
Director Paul Greengrass
Consensus: 4.5 Stars
Extraordinary!

WHAT TO EXPECT

For viewers of the original Jason Bourne trilogy, the wait’s been an uncomfortable decade long. Of course, for Paul Greengrass—director of The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)—it hasn’t. He was done with the universe and wanted to move on and cross more unchartered territories.

And with Captain Phillips and Green Zone, he almost did.

Damon and Greengrass were trying different things out. For the actor, of late, there were experiments like Elysium and The Monuments Men. And while not all the films he’s been a part of worked as well as they could have for varied reasons, it is but agreeable that Damon was all about trying something different every time—a family drama here, a supernatural drama there, and then one based on the true story of a whistleblower… there were going to be better things to do.

Until, of course, when the announcement of Greengrass and Damon returning for yet another installment of (what’s now not a) trilogy dropped over a majority of entertainment news outlets, and people went berserk. What would the next Bourne movie be titled, they’d ask. Where would they go now? A valid question, this, especially considering how averse studios have been to risk-taking of late. I, for one, secretly hoped the makers wouldn’t be bogged down by the pressure of replicating Ultimatum’s success. Mostly, however, I just wanted to watch an involving film.

Laden with fears and hopes while walking into the cinema, the answer to my questions was waiting through but the runtime of the movie in itself.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

It’s a typical day for Heather Lee at the CIA headquarters in Langley. Of course, things don’t look as pretty on the other side of the globe in Iceland. Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) seems to have uncovered something graver than Operation Treadstone. And she needs to reach Jason Bourne (Damon), now often thought of as lore, almost nine years in. The unwitting chain of events Parsons begins unravels a lot more about Bourne than he’d have ever liked to know, much to the horror of those who want the secrets dead, and the fascination of Lee, who’s only just started.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

Supremacy and Ultimatum went so far off the trajectory of Robert Ludlum’s original trilogy (now no longer one, thanks to a certain Eric Van Lustbader on an irreverent writing rampage, spawning so many post-Ultimatum Bourne novels nobody seems to care anymore) that it almost appears to have, with the exception of a few characters, become its own, strange beast—one that’s just what it is, without the basic storytelling rules that usually apply to movies of any genre. This franchise was a beast that dared to have a protagonist viewers wanted to like and root for, while simultaneously breaking many of the rules of likability in the process. Jason Bourne was an oddly specific breed of anti-hero that was more ruthless, selfish and relentless than your (un)friendly neighborhood villain, but whose prioritized presence somehow made sense.

(It is precisely why, with the final pieces of the overall conspiratorial puzzle, Ultimatum’s finale acts like a strange burden on viewers. Morality is a blur, the world is a strange place, and nobody is inherently right or wrong. Everybody is just somebody, trying their hardest not to die every day).

Jason Bourne takes those very rules of its eponymous lead forward. His life is in limbo, and his only purpose right now is to survive, one day at a time. Supremacy’s Goa this ain’t. He still pins others down to get to his destination (and in this particular case, that would be financial gain). The empathy in Damon’s eyes is non-existent—and why’d it be otherwise? He is, after all, no saint. The world around him, however, is unstoppable. And this is what Greengrass molds to his advantage like he always has.

Resolution wraps everything up, but few show the ugly aftermath of neatly wrapped up bouts of victory.Ankit Ojha
Frenemies

That the franchise—with the exclusion of The Bourne Legacy—has been running almost entirely concurrent to the political climates of the world continues to be a towering bonus to the films’ storytelling capabilities. The 5th Bourne film does just the same, essentially allowing this movie, while holding on to its trademark stylistic decisions, to still be a strangely different beast that will polarize its audience. Bourne, like us, survives in a post-Snowden world where the stakes are higher, and the debate between privacy and national security is at an all-time high. Fictional corporation DeepDream’s stand on privacy and its owner’s strong fight against its invasion echoes tech giant Apple’s fight against order to keep its encryption safe (inclusive of an ensuing court order to provide motive to the organization). Its chilling reinterpretation makes things a lot more sinister.

A tired Bourne, sans any empathy, doesn’t help the proceedings either. But, you see, that’s been the game plan for the franchise all along—to run with a protagonist who doesn’t care about anything but himself, because he’s almost left with nothing to care about. It’s not his dodgy memory, nor the people he’s loved and lost, or even the memory of those who’ve wronged him and those he’s wronged; it’s his instinct to survive that keeps him alive. His long-running trust issues come to him at the cost of having no interpersonal relations, but it’s what keeps his lifeline running.

(Additionally, within all the chaos there’s an uncomfortable conversation about power that the movie manages to have throughout its runtime without literally having it. It’s there, deep inside the crevices of its storytelling if you manage to spot it).

You don't know his name

For those, however, who cannot bother with these things, Jason Bourne offers to be a competent action flick that works brilliantly on Greengrass’ vision of every action set-piece, brought to life through his regular cinematographic collaborator Barry Aykroyd’s urgent documentary-styled shooting (one that has unfortunately managed to spawn many an action film with the worst action set-pieces shot handheld). The very visceral nature of the movie’s action is only upped by Christopher Rouse’s sharp, calculated cuts and John Powell’s looming soundtrack. The makers don’t give their film’s audience any space to breathe—or think, for that matter. Once they do manage to figure, however, the many swiftly cut scenes that lead up to any action have these minuscule things going on within their frames that are easy to miss. Greengrass, of course, is not in a mood to co-operate with exposition, whether within the confines of scripted or visual storytelling.

This very decision of his will serve to divide audiences. The makers leave the movie up to interpretation in a world that doesn’t want to interpret a mainstream action blockbuster. Bourne is, essentially, as confused as the film’s audience is about why he’s back. But that’s the point. He’s (now) just a tired man who desperately wants people to be out of his business, but who’s almost always thrust into situations that force him to face the very elements of life he’s been trying to block out since time immemorial. Here’s someone who’s almost always on the precipice between being David Webb and being Jason Bourne that, for once, he’s as clueless as we are as to who he really is anymore. And that looks like it’s been Greengrass’s primary intent. He did not, after all, want to tell us another Bourne story. Strangely enough, the movie feels like his last laugh. This story pushes us through enough uncomfortable truths when it’s not high on chases; that there is no happily ever after. This is an obscure movie with morally ambiguous characters in a situation of unrest and distrust—one that clearly echoes life. Resolution wraps everything up, but few show the ugly aftermath of neatly wrapped up bouts of victory.

And the movie’s title in itself shouts it loud and clear. There’s nothing but a shell of a man here; of the previous events that continue to haunt “Jason Bourne”. He’s aware of his Identity. There’s no Supremacy. There’s no Ultimatum. And he wants nothing to do with his Legacy (ha!). Sure, one would like to know a lot more by the end of this film, but the character now has a sense of finality; of closure. If there ever is a future movie, we should be getting a different kind of action film—one that hopefully has nothing to do with bothering him, but with him bothering others for a possible purpose.

TO PERFORM OR NOT TO PERFORM

No Ultimatum

Let’s just completely focus on Alicia Vikander (Ex_Machina) before anyone else. She’s a powerful addition to the cast, bringing in a kind of electrifying dynamism even a rather experienced Tommy Lee Jones couldn’t. Her body language is subtle, allowing her character Heather Lee’s actions to almost always keep viewers on  their toes. Time and again, Vikander continues to prove herself as a shining example of multidimensional talent, and this film is just another example of just that.

Jones is functional, but with little that his character really has to do, there’s mot much that can be spoken of him than as a drawling antagonistic force that echoes the drawling antagonistic forces of other Bourne films. Riz Ahmed is fun while he lasts. Vincent Cassel packs in a surprising amount of emotional dynamism to a character known only as the “Asset” (no, seriously, there’s nothing more we know of him, which will frustrate and fascinate in equal measure). Julia Stiles is such a welcome face, even if she doesn’t appear for very long.

Matt Damon, though. Here’s an actor who still has it in him to continue convincing his audience to believe in the characters he plays. And with Bourne, it’s almost as if he never left. The conviction with which he takes up the mantle of an old, worn-out ex-assassin haunted by the demons of his past, constantly questioning the purpose of his existence (without actively seeming to) is astounding and, frankly, deserves our complete attention. Here is someone who’s one of the only reasons we’re seeing a fifth Bourne film—not because he wanted to come back, but because his terrific performance pushed studios and fans to account for one more film in the universe, if not many. (And from what I read, Chairman of Universal Pictures Donna Langley isn’t done with the involvement of Damon and Greengrass in the franchise just yet. Having watched Jason Bourne thus, I don’t seem to disagree either. Yet).

WORTH IT?

Jason Bourne is the kind of film that some will love, some will hate, and some will question the presence of. It does not, however, disappoint, both from the stylistic eye of Paul Greengrass, or from the perspective of its narrative, which is bleak and, almost poetically, full of questionable people bringing our titular character back in every time he thinks he’s out. Filled with the most riotously visceral action set-pieces, the film doesn’t forget what made it so popular, catering to the many action fans that hailed the grit the films before this (once again, leaving Legacy out of this) had.

To recommend this would be a tricky ballgame, for expectations are, after all, subjective. It would be safe to say, though, that even those who do not have much to hold on to will find a serviceable, almost breathless action film with enough tension to hold to through until the end. Give this one a try. I, in the meanwhile, am probably on my way to help myself with a second viewing.

About the Author

Ankit Ojha

Facebook

Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

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