I’m sure there’s a sense of wholeness with Matt Damon returning to the role of Jason Bourne and Paul Greengrass returning to direct in Jason Bourne. After leaving the Bourne saga for nearly a decade, one might think they would return to the franchise with fresh ideas for the character and his world.
What has he been doing this whole time? What is the CIA doing about their rogue member of the secret program? How has the current state of privacy and terrorism affected their operations? Sadly, not much has changed; its just business as usual for the cat-and-mouse chase with the same old tricks.
The movie starts strong with a solid level of intrigue. Jason Bourne (Damon) finds himself living off the grid in Europe while his former contact Nicky (Julia Stiles) uncovers secret files from the CIA. While digging for information on the new secret program Ironhand, Nicky discovers the old files for the Treadstone program, which reveals a hideous secret of Bourne’s past.
To prevent these secrets from being leaked, the CIA mobilizes a tactical assault against Bourne with special agent Asset (Vincent Cassel), a man who has a personal vendetta with Bourne. Why does Asset so badly want to see Bourne dead? What was Bourne not told about when joining the Treadstone program? What is project Ironhand?
These are all questions that are entertaining to ponder amid all the action antics of Bourne avoiding CIA capture/assassination, but they’re given very standard answers. The mystery is almost entirely divulged by the second act as if to clear the third for all the action. Jason’s past turns out to be nothing all that special as a predictable puzzle to solve. So simple is this spy pathos that Bourne could have figured out most of this if he just thought hard enough about every spy backstory ever written.
Which brings up my biggest qualm with the Bourne series: the repetitiveness of it all. The old cliché of a rogue agent questioning a pawn in this deadly game is trotted out without cleverness. Bourne knows this pawn will die during the questioning. The CIA knows the pawn will die during the questioning. The pawn knows he will die during the questioning. We know the pawn will die during the questioning. If everybody in and out of the movie expects this, where is the tension?
The CIA keeps talking about Bourne as a dangerous force they’re familiar with and yet they have learned nothing in their many dealings with this super spy over the years. For instance, wouldn’t they pick up on the old disguise of throwing on a ball cap and looking down to blend into a crowd?
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