It’s very rare that film series make it to their fifth instalment. Whereas the Ice Age franchise seems to be almost hell bent on ruining the genius of the first two movies with unnecessary and frankly diabolical sequels, the Bourne series seems to grow with each passing feature (The Bourne Legacy being the only mild blemish on an otherwise perfect copybook). That being said, few expected to ever see Matt Damon in the role again, especially since the material provided in the original three books by Robert Ludlum had seemingly exhausted itself. However, Hollywood is an unpredictable beast at the best of times, and now presents us with the self-titled Jason Bourne.
The premise is nothing overly exciting or even new. Bourne (Matt Damon) is in hiding, and the CIA, now under the direction of the mildly sinister Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones), decide that it’s time to go and find him again. The usual pile up of bodies ensues.
Whilst the plot is the somewhat basic formula we are used to from the Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum films, there’s a solid enough argument that if something isn’t broken, then there’s no need to fix it. Rather, the world that the character now inhabits has been moderately updated. As we travel around the CIA headquarters there are references to Snowden, as well as the introduction of a new “cyber-analyst” (aka hacker), Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander). Whilst necessary to bring the film more in line with modern perceptions of cyber terrorism and the ongoing debate of national security vs privacy, it seems like a bit of a plaster job. Cliché is used with generous abandon, with tech giant Aaron Kalloor portraying the classic Silicon Valley billionaire. Sadly, too often Jason Bourne takes rather complex real world dilemmas and dumbs them down.
But where this movie shines, and shines so brightly, is in its action sequences. At its heart, the Bourne franchise has always been about the rough, aggressive non-CGI action, and the latest is no different. The protagonist is a gritty fighter, and the slapstick Kung Fu that seems to be the staple of most modern action pictures is thrown firmly into the shadows. The cinematography is slick and the pace is fast, and it stands proudly with the three prior films in providing suspense, drama and biro-stabbing action in equal measure.
Though it’s not quite the perfectly polished article that we were presented with in the first three instalments, Jason Bourne is more than capable of providing fans of the series with the man that they know and love.
Jason Bourne is released nationwide on the 27th July 2016.
Watch the trailer for Jason Bourne here: