“Jason Bourne” brings back Matt Damon to the franchise

Almost every A-list actor seems to have a franchise these days. In the case of Matt Damon, his is the Bourne series, of which he’s starred in three of the four outings (only missing The Bourne Legacy). On Friday, Bourne is back in Jason Bourne, with Damon back as well, alongside filmmaker Paul Greengrass. After a successful trilogy for Damon in The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Bourne Ultimatum, he and Greengrass, who helmed Supremacy and Ultimatum, left for other interests. They’re in the fold again though, making this a summer action blockbuster that’s been hotly anticipated. Saw the film earlier this week and while I wasn’t blown away, I suspect fans of the franchise will be satisfied. Jason Bourne is made for them, after all.

The movie is a continuation of the franchise, with Jason Bourne (Damon) living off the grid and mostly unconcerned with the world of espionage. He’s still haunted by his actions, but is trying to move on. When an old ally returns to the fold with information about his past, along with a revelation about his father, Bourne is active once again. This attracts the attention of the director of the CIA (Tommy Lee Jones), as well as a tech analyst (Alicia Vikander) who sees an opportunity in bringing him in. From there, it’s action, spy work, and Bourne doing what he does best. Green grass directs and co-writes with Christopher Rouse (also the editor), while the rest of the cast includes Riz Ahmed, Bill Camp, Vincent Cassel, Ato Essandoh, Gregg Henry, Vinzenz Kiefer, Scott Shepherd, Julia Stiles, and more. Barry Ackroyd once again provides the cinematography, while the score comes by way of the duo of David Buckley and John Powell. Obviously, this is a showcase for Damon, who wears the character like an old glove by now.

Personally, this one didn’t really hit for me like the others have. That’s not to say that this is a bad movie, just a flawed one, with a strange lack of passion behind it. I’d never accuse anyone of doing something just for the money, but in a lot of ways this appears like a paycheck job for Damon, Greengrass, and the like (Jones and Vikander especially are given very little to do). That may not be the case, but that’s just how it comes off, with the feel of a product, as opposed to an organic idea for a Bourne sequel. Jason Bourne tries to up the action quotient as well, but it just serves to make this appear more generic and less like the logical next step in the franchise.

As a more positive bonus of sorts, here is how I would rank Damon’s ten best performances so far to date:

10. True Grit
9. Courage Under Fire
8. The Good Shepherd
7. Dogma
6. The Adjustment Bureau
5. Saving Private Ryan
4. The Rainmaker
3. The Martian
2. The Departed
1. Good Will Hunting

Honorable Mention: Contagion, The Informant!, and The Talented Mr. Ripley

Overall, Jason Bourne is this week’s effort to liven up the summer movie season with a slightly classier action outing than we usually get. If you’ve been looking forward to Damon kicking some more ass, he’ll probably quench your thirst, but expectations definitely need to be kept in check. In some ways, the film fits in with the various other 2016 big budget disappointments, but in another way, it stands above some of them by not being a waste of time. It’s decent enough when you get right down to it, so if you think it’s your thing, it probably will be. The choice is yours…

Be sure to check out Jason Bourne, in theaters everywhere this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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