Returning from the shadows where the original films ended the character in satisfying fashion, Jason Bourne ultimately feels like a lifeless sequel. There’s a political commentary about hacking at work here too that gives the title a strange air around it. It never quite feels as fun as the previous titles and whether that be Matt Damon’s average performance as Jason Bourne or the formulaic story, this is another blockbuster that just doesn’t nail it.
We find Bourne in exile, off the grid competing in bare knuckle fights for money after uncovering the Blackbriar project all those years ago. Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) on the other hand is up to her old tricks and hacks into the CIA mainframe. She uncovers top secret documents, some of which referencing Bourne’s parents, so she sets out to find Bourne whilst evading the CIA that are hot on her trail.
The story itself is serviceable and despite some questionable plot choices that I personally thought were unnecessary, it zips along at a decent pace. Just like the methodical actions of the super soldier assassins, the film is cold, robotic and ruthless. It feels like a lifeless sequel, with too many forgettable characters and a surprisingly average performance from Damon. His energy in giving the “American Bond” a charismatic edge in the previous films is missing here and dare I say it, he looks bored.
On the other side of the spectrum we have Tommy Lee Jones who plays the main villain here and he does a good job of trying to inject some much-needed life into the sequel, its just a shame he isn’t in the film much to make too much of an impact.
When Bourne is good, it really is good and the action is where this film shines. A particularly good chase scene in the heart of Greece while fire dances and angry protestors swarm the claustrophobic streets was one of my favourites although it ticks the boxes for the usual fist fights, car chases and more as well. You can’t fault this film for at least trying to inject some energy into it and the action is as intense as the originals ever were but when the action stops, it exposes the film’s shortcomings.
The original three films did such a good job of weaving a tight story throughout – a recurring theme of Bourne trying to remember who he is after a bout of amnesia – that the story here feels lacklustre. Add to the average story a message about hacking, a forgettable villain and again, some key plot points that didn’t really hit, Jason Bourne just didn’t work for me.
Overall, Bourne is a very average sequel. The action feels like vintage Bourne with some great scenes but beyond that the rest of the film never quite follows suit. Much like the character we left at the end of The Bourne Supremacy, perhaps it would have been better to leave the character in the blaze of glory, rather than dragging them back reluctantly into the fray.