Jason Bourne (2016)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 7/30/16
Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles

It's been nine years since Matt Damon's last Bourne film, and nothing has changed. Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is still living off the grid and doing what he can to get by, while CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) is developing yet ANOTHER black ops project that will supercede Treadstone, Blackbriar, and whatever else has happened in the interim. Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) is Dewey's protégé, an eager and resourceful cyber ops specialist who gets in over her head when she asks too many questions and pushes the bounds of her authority. Julia Stiles delivers one last performance as Nicki Parsons, who is making a living as a freelance hacker. She discovers some shocking information about Bourne's past, and pulls him back into the fray in order to share it with him. Lee wants to bring Bourne back into the Agency and help him, while Dewey is determined to see him dead. To that end, he sends an assassin with a personal grudge (Vincent Cassel) to stop Bourne at all costs. Everything builds up to a frantic car chase down Las Vegas Blvd. and a bloody beatdown in some non-descript sewer tunnel underneath The Riviera Resort.

Like the previous Bourne sequels, this one is formulaic and predictable to a fault, and suffers from infuriating camera work. Director Paul Greengrass still hasn't figured out how to stabilize a camera, which makes the film difficult to watch. An unpleasant side effect of his signature handheld style is that quite a few scenes are noticeably out of focus. The action scenes are full of energy and movement, but they tend to be overly long and the awful camera work spoils the fun. The centerpiece of any Bourne film is usually an inventive and well executed hand-to-hand fight scene with a would-be assassin, but that's missing this time around. Actually, there might be a good fight scene somewhere in the movie, but it's impossible to tell because the action scenes are filmed and edited so poorly.

The acting is quite good and it's nice to see Julia Stiles in action again. Although, just like the previous entries, the conversations she has in the trailer aren't in the actual film. This is like a running gag, where they film entirely different material with her solely for marketing purposes. Matt Damon has aged well and looks rough, tough, rugged, and buff. He gives a believable and suitably intense performance. The real treat, however, is Alicia Vikander. She's utterly delightful, even though all she does is talk on the phone and stare at computer monitors. Her fierce gaze, husky voice, sharp wardrobe, and commanding presence are riveting, and I could watch her stare at computer monitors all day. This, of course, got me all excited about seeing her as Lara Croft in the upcoming "Tomb Raider" movie. I have no doubt that she can pull it off, provided the director doesn't compromise the character and sabotage her performance. But back to Bourne, it's an enjoyable big budget action flick that offers no surprises and feels like a rehash of the previous Bourne films, for better or worse. If that doesn't bother you and you can tolerate all of the laughable sci-fi technology, it's a fun way to escape the summer heat for a few hours.