Ja­son Bourne

HK Magazine - - FILM -

It’s been nine years since Matt Da­mon was last on our screens as Ja­son Bourne, in 2007’s “The Bourne Ul­ti­ma­tum.” That’s a long time in cinema, and since then we’ve seen plenty of ac­tion flicks ape the shaky-cam style that di­rec­tor Paul Green­grass per­fected in the last two Bourne out­ings. “Ja­son Bourne” brings back our older, maybe wiser am­ne­siac as­sas­sin with more cam­era shake than ever—but has cinema moved on since?

It’s a to­tally stan­dard “Bourne” film plot, in which the exCIA as­sas­sin is forced out of hid­ing when he’s found by for­mer col­league Nicky Par­sons (Ju­lia Stiles, repris­ing her role from the last three films). Par­sons has hacked into the CIA and stolen de­tails of all of Lan­g­ley’s black ops: past, present and fu­ture. When she hands them to Bourne, he finds him­self dragged back into the open, the agency once again de­ter­mined to kill him, ex­actly as it failed to do on the three pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions.

Lead­ing the chase is tech-savvy CIA new­bie Heather

Lee (Ali­cia Vikan­der), while be­hind her, CIA Di­rec­tor Robert Dewey (ol’ leather­faced Tommy Lee Jones him­self) runs his own op­er­a­tion with an as­sas­sin known only as “the As­set” (Vin­cent Cas­sel). Bourne’s ex­posed and must turn the ta­bles on his pur­suers and hunt them down. The writ­ers have thrown in oblig­a­tory ref­er­ences for the so­cial me­dia gen­er­a­tion, with a Face­book-es­que plat­form that the CIA wants its hands on.

We’re given the usual hall­marks of the se­ries—like panEuro­pean tourism, tick­ing off protest-torn Athens, hip­ster­fied Ber­lin, gritty Lon­don and frozen Reyk­javík as Bourne tracks down his leads, with the CIA only ever a few steps be­hind.

And un­like James Bond, who flits around Europe via su­per­car or lux­ury yacht, Bourne’s brand of travel is de­cid­edly more pro­saic. He never ar­rives at his set­pieces by Maserati—he just takes the sub­way to his next as­sas­si­na­tion.

But for all of the Bourne boxes that this movie ticks, it doesn’t add any­thing new to the mix. In par­tic­u­lar, the close­quar­ters fights don’t seem all that spe­cial com­pared to those that came be­fore—re­mem­ber that scene in “Supremacy” when Bourne kills a bad­die and blows up his house, with only a rolledup mag­a­zine?

Paul Green­grass hasn’t let up on the shaky-cam. There doesn’t seem to be a sin­gle shot in the movie in which the cam­era isn’t mov­ing; no scene in which the jump cuts don’t flit across your eye­balls. It all feels too much. The best ac­tion films of the past few years—“The Raid,” “John Wick”—have em­pha­sized flu­id­ity, not rapid cuts. The cli­mac­tic car chase— an­other hall­mark of the Bourne fran­chise—is so shaky and so quickly cut that it feels con­fus­ing and dis­ori­ent­ing, not ed­geof-your-seat ex­cit­ing. Don’t sit at the front of the cinema for this one.

There’s noth­ing to fault in the per­for­mances. Da­mon is as re­li­able as ever, his Bourne en­tirely tac­i­turn—he’s only got about 45 lines in the en­tire movie. But this gives the rest of the cast room to work. Ali­cia Vikan­der is ef­fec­tive in her role as the over-am­bi­tious Heather Lee, Vin­cent Cas­sel brings his ever-present men­ace—and by this point it feels like Tommy Lee Jones has never been young. When you have a face as crin­kled and worn as his, you don’t re­ally need to act: You just have to point your face in the right di­rec­tion as you say your lines.

One of the best mo­ments in the film comes when Bourne and Par­sons come face to face. It’s been years since their last meet­ing and both look older, wea­rier. Sadly, Bourne the fran­chise feels just the same. Adam White

(USA) Ac­tion/Thriller. Di­rected by Paul Green­grass. Star­ring Matt Da­mon, Ali­cia Vikan­der, Tommy Lee Jones, Vin­cent Cas­sel, Ju­lia Stiles. Cat­e­gory IIB. 124 min­utes. Opened Jul 28.

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