Back Rowe Reviews
Real Time Movie Reviews from the Back Row of a Theater

Jason Bourne (PG-13)

Directed by: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Matt Damon
July 2016

The below comments (in Black) were originally tweeted in Real-time from the back row of a movie theater and appear @BackRoweReviews. Though efforts were made to tease rather than ruin this movie’s memorable lines and moments, some spoilers may exist in the following evaluation (in Red). For concerns over objectionable content, please first refer to one of the many parental movie guide websites. All ratings are based on a four star system. Happy reading!

Jason Bourne
One punch is all #Bourne needs.
Linked to Jason Bourne. A sure fire way to acquire a target on your back. Guilt by association.
A violent demonstration is the perfect place to have a top secret long as you survive it.
The blonde hair is a dead giveaway. #RookieMove
#Bourne picks up blondie on his motorcycle. So much for splitting up.
Nikki is the latest in the long string of women who haven’t fared well while attempting to assist #Bourne.
“Privacy is freedom.” And freedom is life.
Report claims that #Bourne could be brought back into the program. I wouldn’t count on it.
#Bourne stands in front of a window. #RookieMove
A green light on #Bourne. Won’t work.
#Bourne should’ve kept his cap on to conceal his identity from the casino’s cameras. #RookieMove
A SWAT truck plows into some cop cars. What’s wrong with that picture?
Final analysis: a somewhat rote reboot for the series with dizzying action scenes and a well worn plot.
2 1/2 out of 4. Damon is rock solid, but the story lets him down. Will Damon be Bourne again?

The fifth film in the Bourne franchise, based on the novels by the late Robert Ludlum, is a homecoming event since Matt Damon played the titular hero in the original trilogy: The Bourne Identity (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). Though the mantle was briefly transferred to Jeremy Renner for 2012s The Bourne Legacy, Damon has returned for Jason Bourne. Unfortunately, Damon’s presence is the only thing that recommends the film since the story is a standard issue chase thriller. All of the thematic conventions from the earlier films are here, in patchwork fashion, and comprise the bulk of the story. So what tropes am I referring to? Something every Bourne film has featured (as well as every James Bond movie ever made) is a globe-trotting storyline: this outing sees Bourne visiting Greece, Berlin and Las Vegas. Admittedly, this is the least offensive of the movie’s clichés since we’re treated to some gorgeous vistas of exotic foreign locales (Vegas might not be foreign, but it’s most certainly exotic) as the story progresses from one action set piece to the next. One hackneyed story element is that every woman who tries assisting Bourne ends up dead—one of the many reasons not to date this international man-on-the-run. Conversely, the wisest thing Bourne has done since he lost the love of his life, Marie (Franka Potente), is to eschew any romantic engagements. Another derivative aspect of the Bourne movies is the inclusion of older white men who ran the various off-the-books operations that Bourne was involved with in the past. The original trilogy presented a formidable array of A-list actors to play such roles, including: Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, David Strathairn, Scott Glenn and Albert Finney. Carrying on that tradition in this movie is Tommy Lee Jones (incidentally, he’s very effective at playing people tasked with tracking down fugitives) who is actually much more sympathetic to Bourne than many of his predecessors—his line “You’re never going to find any peace. Not till you admit to yourself who you really are.” is a dialog highlight in the film. Bourne embarking on a quest to learn clues about his past is yet another frequently repeated contrivance in the film series. What Bourne is seeking this time is the identity of the person who was in charge of recruiting him into his first black ops program. Told in a series of grainy flashbacks and featuring Gregg Henry and Vincent Cassel, these scenes represent the heart of the film. Though critical in buttressing and expanding the plot, these back story elements are painfully predictable, although they do provide ample motivation for Bourne and serve as the impetus for the film’s final confrontation...which isn’t nearly as spectacular as the explosive climaxes in the earlier films. Indeed, the protracted, mano a mano slugfests that were the highlights of the original trilogy are nowhere to be seen here. Though the action beats are well acted and choreographed, I could’ve done without director Paul Greengrass’ blurry, shaky cam action sequences. Aside from its many story redundancies, the movie’s biggest drawback is its rather lengthy list of plot holes (reference my tweets for #RookieMove for examples of this). The anemic and uninspired writing, by Greengrass and Christopher Rouse, is the movie’s biggest drawback; indeed, it almost seems as if the movie was written as a greatest hits pastiche of the earlier films rather than a unique stand-alone chapter in the mythos. Sad to say, but the formula is so diluted at this point that it no longer has any potency. So what does Bourne have left to fight for now that all the women in his life have pushed daises and that he’s learned everything there is to know about his past and identity? It seems like the only thing Bourne has left to do is dismantle the program that turned him into a ruthless killer. As such, will the sequel be a revenge tour? We’ll see how this film performs first, I suppose. Or to put it a different way, has this film buried the franchise once and for all or will the character be Bourne again?