Matt Damon's troubled assassin is born again in this long-awaited fourth entry, Jason Bourne.
Ever since 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum brought Jason Bourne's arc to a thrilling conclusion, the series has been at something of a loose end. 2012's pseudo-sequel The Bourne Legacy sought a new direction in the form of a new lead, Jeremy Renner's Aaron Cross, but the reception was muted from both audiences and critics to say the least.
As a result, it's left to Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass to reenter the fray and reassert Jason Bourne as a 21st Century cinematic tour de force; now onto their third film together (director Doug Liman worked behind the camera on 2002's Identity), the duo have delivered a film as action-packed, thrilling and entertaining as ever. 2016's Jason Bourne might not sit atop the pile, but it certainly doesn't disgrace its predecessors by fumbling the execution in the slightest.
For a decade after his escape at the end of The Bourne Ultimatum, Jason Bourne (Damon) has been living on the fringes of society. Bouncing from fight club to fight club, Bourne is lured to Athens by his old colleague, Nicky (Julia Stiles), to help her evade capture by the CIA. Their mission to expose the latest top secret CIA training program sees Bourne travel across the globe, from Athens to Berlin, London and Las Vegas, and also opens up old wounds in Bourne's past. On the other side, new CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) tasks an ambitious analyst, Heather (Alicia Vikander), with bringing Bourne in or bringing him down.
Where this movie falls down is in its plot; it won't take long before you're starting to wonder if Damon and Greengrass are going to do anything vastly different this time around, to which the answer is no, not really. Jason Bourne borrows a lot of elements from the first three Bourne movies, such as the shocking opening salvo from Supremacy to the interwoven flashbacks alluding to Bourne's history prior to the Treadstone program.
That being said, this wasn't something that really bothered me. After all, the film is rehashing the best of the best before giving it a decidedly 2016 spin - who doesn't love cranking out the greatest hits album once in a while? Jason Bourne does feel like a continuation of the original trilogy, not some derivative sequel designed to elongate the narrative.
Damon is as good as ever; his steely gaze and determination to undo past misdeeds providing a compelling reason to side with his amnesiac assassin. Furthermore, it doesn't feel like his character is getting too long in the tooth just yet; I'd happily follow Bourne into his 50's if it meant further ass-kicking of this quality.
Vikander is a great foil opposite Bourne and the film plants the seed of doubt surrounding her loyalty to the CIA early on. I wasn't thrilled with where the film leaves her character; done differently, it could've steered the series into newer, fresher waters. Vincent Cassel's gruff assassin character is great too, very recollective of Karl Urban's similar performance in Supremacy.
The formula might feel familiar, but this reborn version of Bourne does feel markedly different from where the series ended nine years ago. The 2016 setting gives the film new technologies and elements to work with, keeping the action fresh even when the overall narrative feels a little bit safe.
The Verdict: 8/10
2016's Jason Bourne is like a 'greatest hits' remix of everything we've come to know and love about the Bourne series; Greengrass serves up spadefuls of action and drama, and even though it doesn't stray far from the formula, there is a lot of fun to be had with this slick spy thriller.
Jason Bourne is in cinemas across Australia now