After Universal’s long battle to bring the final Bourne movie to fruition, with Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass behind the wheel, I had high expectations for ‘Jason Bourne’. After all, it was a long time coming. But, alas…instead of the nail-biting, plot-twisting thriller I had been waiting for, I found myself sitting through a dull clone of almost every big blockbuster action movie trope, ever.
The plot of ‘Jason Bourne’ centers around Jason tying up loose ends, dusting off old USB’s handily labelled as ‘ENCRYPTED’ and dredging up old daddy issues. When compared to the plot of ‘The Bourne Identity’, an edge-of-your-seat thriller that kept you guessing at every step, this film gives you very little to care about…I’m not exaggerating when I say I nearly nodded off, twice.
Despite that, the reviews aren’t utterly terrible, and neither is the film. But if there is anything this film ain’t, it’s original. Here’s why:
A swathe of exotic locations
Greece, Las Vegas, London, Berlin…Jason Bourne, much like many of his action-man movie comrades, is an international man. Trouble is, sweeping shots of cityscapes are a total cliche of spy movies. Every scene in ‘Jason Bourne’ that opened with a wideshot of a new location to me got me questioning…how exactly is Bourne able to travel like this? Even if he worked a full time job (which he doesn’t…), travelling this often would cost a hell of a lot of dollar. Not to mention, where does he stay? When does he get time to sleep? Which brings me on to my next point…
Gritty, topless boxing
When we are reunited with Bourne at the start of the movie, he is whiling away his days doing the most manliest of manly pastimes. Bare-knuckle, bare-chested, oily, dirty boxing. Jason Bourne joins a league of manly men from the movies who prefer their boxing matches to be illicit, sweaty and brain-damaging. It would have been refreshing to find out that Bourne has taken up knitting, or Dungeons & Dragons since his escape from ‘The Programme’…
A willful misunderstanding of technology
Most action movies do require some stretch of the imagination – but when you’re testing your audience from the offset and asking them at every possible moment to suspend belief for even the most trivial things, you’re going to lose their attention, fast. You’d think if you were going to vaguely base your movie on the pitfalls of technology and surveillance, you’d at least have someone from the industry to take a quick look at your script. Engadget’s article outlines every technologically dumb moment in ‘Jason Bourne’ – and there are plenty of them.
Car chases galore (despite traffic)
If you’re a wanted man, like Bourne, car chases are just part of the territory. This movie certainly doesn’t shy away from this fact, following the cardinal rules of action movie car chases – whether you’re being chased down jam-packed central city streets or winding, cobbled corridors in Greece, somehow, both you and your pursuer will be able to gather the necessary momentum required to explode a few tires and shatter a few chassis. But ‘Jason Bourne’ is guilty in entering into a battle of ‘one-upmanship’ with other movies in its category, driving deep into the realms of the ridiculous with its car chases. They are exceeded only by the car chases in ‘Fast & Furious 7’…but let’s be honest, the gravity defying car chases in Furious are what the audience came for. In their silliness and banality, the car chases in ‘Jason Bourne’ simply become tiresome. The ‘making of’ the car chase scenes is actually more interesting then the chases themselves…
Woefully underwritten female characters
Alicia Vikander, who gave outstanding performances in ‘Ex Machina’ and ‘The Danish Girl’, takes a step backwards in her upward trajectory somewhat in her role as ‘Heather Lee’ in ‘Jason Bourne’. At least 50% of her dialogue in the film consists of ‘Yes, sir,’ and her motives are fuzzy at best. Embarrassingly, when her character seemingly stands up for herself , Tommy Lee Jones’ CIA Director refers to her solely as ‘the girl’ for the rest of the movie, before attempting to dispatch her for her modern ideas and approaches. And they say that there’s no glass ceiling for women in the workplace…
Nausea inducing camerawork
Paul Greengrass’ signature shaky camera work was a revelation when first used, and still is an effective way to create tension, when used correctly. But, since its adoption into all action movies since, the shaky camera work no longer feels new and exciting. In ‘Jason Bourne’, it is not used as originally intended (to heighten a sense of urgency and to bring you along the ride). Instead, it is used willy-nilly, and hinders the film, rather than helps it. Every scene looks like it was filmed by a cameraman on a rodeo bull, rendering some scenes almost indecipherable. There’s a drawn out fight towards the end of the movie that is almost impossible to follow, with more cutaways than the eye can plausibly follow.