Jason Bourne is one of the summer’s most anticipated releases. It’s an action film in name only, a subdued two-hour film that’s tedious and seems more concerned with making a political statement than entertaining an audience. Bourne appears to be going through more of a pseudo mid-life crisis than being entrenched in any espionage rich narrative.
Bourne has been making a concerted effort to stay off the grid for the last ten years and has found his way into the world of bare-knuckle boxing. His old partner in crime, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), is in Iceland working at a hacker camp and manages to get into the CIA database, downloading old black-ops files. While looking through those files, she uncovers that Jason’s dad may have been the mastermind behind the Tredstone program. Seriously.
She somehow knows where Bourne is and gets word to him that they need to meet. Unbeknownst to them, the CIA had tracked Parsons and planned to apprehend her. In the course of the operation to arrest her, they quickly realize that Bourne is nearby. The CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) suddenly makes the call that now Bourne is the target. A chase ensues through the streets of the capital of Greece.
At this point, the audience is pumped because now we are all expecting Bourne to seek vengeance. Instead, what we are left with is ninety minutes of a meandering plot line that ranges from him soul searching (finding who the “real” Jason Bourne is… you know… inside) to fretting over who killed his daddy. What? Are you serious? This isn’t the Jason Bourne that we are used to seeing. Bourne’s purpose in life is to get to the bottom of the problem and do so by any means necessary. In this film, we see him walking away, reflecting on the past, and fretting about his next move.
Paul Greengrass and Christopher Rouse have crafted a narrative that seems hell-bent on making a political statement, plot be damned. There’s a tiny sub-plot that they keep going back to again and again, centering on the CIA/NSA spying on our citizens, with the help of some social-media platform. While no one will deny that the sub-plot is certainly topical, it shouldn’t have been a major focus of this film. Jason Bourne already had so many other sub-plots meandering at the same time, the CIA/NSA sub-plot is forgettable when, in fact, it should have been what saved this film. Imagine if Bourne was out to shut down the CIA/NSA surveillance system.
Fans of Bourne will feel the action at least makes the film watchable. Well, even the action lacks a certain amount of authenticity to it and comes off as more rote than anything. In the first three films, it was if Jason Bourne had a fire in him that drove to kick ass and take names. In this movie, he’s listless and just does what he has to do to walk away from the situation.
Sometimes we should leave certain movies in the past. The previous three Damon Bourne films were textbook examples of what a good action film is supposed to be. Alas, we’re left with the bad taste of Jason Bourne in our mind, the summers most disappointing film.