Bourne’s back again with plenty of thrills
What with all their international adventures through the years, it seems like only a matter of time before Jason Bourne and Ethan Hunt cross paths, whether it be in a crowded town square in Greece or a winding boulevard in Paris — or maybe while the two of them happen to be involved in crazy highspeed chases at the same time.
Hey, man. What are YOU doing here?
Just as Tom Cruise continues to carry the “Mission: Impossible” action franchise in his 50s, the 45year-old Matt Damon still kicks butt in serious fashion in his fourth appearance (and first since 2007) as Jason Bourne in the film of the same name.
In “Jason Bourne,” our man Jason knows who he is — but he doesn’t really know who he is. The guy is still in need of some serious therapy, but he’s way way WAY off the grid, coping with migraine-inducing flashbacks and carving out a living as a bare-knuckled street fighter in dusty outposts. The always excellent Julia Stiles returns as Jason’s back-in-the-day ally Nicky Parsons, who is now working with an Edward Snowden-like hacker to expose the CIA’s most covert and in some cases most sinister black-ops programs.
When Nicky breaches the CIA’s system and learns a shocking secret about Jason’s past, she tracks him down in Greece, and they rendezvous in the middle of a political revolt.
Few directors in the world can match Paul Greengrass’ ability to stage and shoot action scenes such as the breathtaking, chaotic sequence in Greece, as teams of CIA operatives and a lone contract assassin known as “The Asset” (a chillingly effective Vincent Cassel) hunt down Nicky and Jason amid the madness of a full-scale riot. It’s action filmmaking at its finest.
Tommy Lee Jones does his worldweary, smartest-guy-in-the-room thing as CIA director Robert Dewey, a coldly pragmatic and morally bankrupt S.O.B. who wouldn’t know a moment of self-doubt if it splashed him in the face. (It’s one of Jones’ best performances in recent years.)
Dewey’s reaction to the first Jason Bourne sighting in years is simple: Kill him. Good luck with that, Dewey. Newly minted Oscar winner Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl”) plays Heather Lee, a brilliant and ambitious techno analyst with the CIA who argues in favour of bringing Jason home instead of taking him out. She thinks she’s playing Dewey, Dewey thinks he’s playing her, and everybody keeps underestimating Jason, which seems pretty stupid considering his track record.
Even if you’ve seen all the “Bourne” films, there are times when matters get muddled.
Still, “Jason Bourne” is the best action thriller of the year so far, with a half-dozen terrific chase sequences and fight scenes. At one point the action swings to Vegas, and while some of what transpires is almost cartoonishly over-thetop, it’s great fun.
Damon is outstanding as the tightly wound, perpetually restless and conflicted Jason Bourne. Vikander is faced with a tough challenge, as the Heather character has to shoot out line after line of technical jargon and act as a kind of interpreter to the audience, explaining how the CIA can track Jason. And, like Stiles’ Nicky, Heather is a patriot who isn’t entirely convinced Jason is a traitor.
“Jason Bourne” doesn’t have the fresh kick of the first “Bourne” film from nearly a decade and a half ago, but Damon is a more accomplished actor than he was in 2002, and the more we know about this character, the more we feel for him, and it’s a damn treat to see him again after all these years.
Matt Damon and Julia Stiles in a scene from the new film “Jason Bourne.”