Jason Bourne

 

starstarstarstar

 

 

Nine years on from The Bourne Ultimatum, Matt Damon returns as the eponymous amnesiac in an action-thriller that delivers in spades.

 

Jason Bourne
Running mates: Matt Damon and Julia Stiles 

  

Bourne again. What a wonderful thought. It’s been nine years since Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) disappeared into New York’s East River at the end of The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). In the interim, James Bond has established himself as a spy to be reckoned with in a new era of super-surveillance and Matt Damon has acquired a few grey hairs. But the international stage of espionage has grown ever more complex, and the theatre of global politics even more volatile. And big men in dark suits at Langley are taking ever greater risks and muddying the waters of what is morally expedient. It’s time for Bourne to emerge out of the shadows and to brush up on his game.

 

Matt Damon is no longer the bright-eyed whippersnapper he was in the first film, The Bourne Identity (2002) – and he is beginning to look his 45 years. In fact, everybody looks a bit greyer in this outing, from Julia Stiles’ steadfast CIA techie Nicky Parsons to Tommy Lee Jones’s hangdog CIA director Robert Dewey. Even the requisite super-assassin looks like he’s seen better days, although you’d never really want to cross Vincent Cassel, even if he is now 49. The fresh blood is supplied by the Oscar-winning Alicia Vikander as Heather Lee, head of the CIA’s cyber division, and Riz Ahmed as the CEO of a new social media giant with privacy issues.

 

As the entire planet in today’s world has become a volatile backdrop for the theatrics of Hollywood, so the new Jason Bourne film slips easily into the métier into which it was born to shine, zipping across the globe from Reykjavík, Athens and Rome to Berlin, London, Las Vegas and Washington DC. In the Greek capital, the film excels at what it does best: presenting a spectacular chase through unfamiliar streets, in this case thoroughfares choked with rioting protesters. Even in an age of more and more outrageous car chases, here the wow factor is confidently engaged.

 

Unlike with other franchises, the same director returns to steer the machine, in this case Paul Greengrass, one of the best filmmakers we’ve got. Having turned the Bournes Supremacy and Ultimatum into box-office gold, he continues apace, with the latest instalment, in its opening day, out-grossing all previous editions. Greengrass is of the old-school model, an auteur who insists on filming his stuff for real, rather than resorting to computer trickery. And it shows on the screen: the final chase is between Bourne and a SWAT truck driven by Cassel, right down the Las Vegas Strip. The sequence cost the production 170 vehicles, partially destroyed the Riviera Hotel & Casino and delayed Jennifer Lopez’s concert at Planet Hollywood. It’s a helluva scene.  

 

Inevitably with a franchise, an air of familiarity does creep into the mix and the latest is perhaps not as fun or as breathless as the preceding three. But it’s just as pertinent to today’s exponentially accelerating world of techno-surveillance and as such the brand continues to amaze. It’s best to approach the latest with a clear head and a shot of caffeine – things do move at a hell of a pace. And, thank Turing, it doesn’t spoonfeed the viewer.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles, Riz Ahmed, Ato Essandoh, Scott Shepherd, Bill Camp, Gregg Henry.

 

Dir Paul Greengrass, Pro Matt Damon, Paul Greengrass, Frank Marshall, Jeffrey M. Weiner, Ben Smith and Gregory Goodman, Screenplay Paul Greengrass and Christopher Rouse, Ph Barry Ackroyd, Pro Des Paul Kirby, Ed Christopher Rouse, Music John Powell and David Buckley, Costumes Mark Bridges.

 

The Kennedy/Marshall Company/Captivate Entertainment/Pearl Street Films/Perfect World Pictures-Universal Pictures.

123 mins. USA. 2016. Rel: 27 July 2016. Cert. 12A.