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JASON BOURNE… Please let this franchise die.

Posted on August 1st, 2016
Posted on August 1st, 2016

by Coop Cooper

Fighting cage matches for cash on the Albanian/Grecian border, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) survives aimlessly off the grid, although seems somewhat bent on self-destruction despite the fact he is still in hiding from the CIA. His old ally, hacker Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), approaches him with a jump drive containing classified information which might lead to him discovering his identity. After a few narrow escapes, Bourne learns that he has a new potential ally in an upstart CIA agent, Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), who somehow feels compelled to expose illegal practices of CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones). As Bourne gets closer to the truth, a CIA assassin (Vincent Cassel) doggedly pursues him, blaming Bourne’s previous whistleblowing effort for his own capture and torture in Syria.

If it sounds like pretty much every other Bourne movie, that’s because it is. The “Bourne” franchise movie structure goes like this… Bourne, while in hiding, learns new information that brings him out of hiding. While trying to access more information via computer, the CIA pinpoint him and send out a goon squad to take him down. Bourne fights and evades them until he tries to access the next lead and is discovered yet again and must fight and escape by a narrow margin (often with an expendable female companion caught in the crossfire!). This cycle repeats until Bourne has enough info to go on the offensive, then he concocts a foolproof plan to defeat his enemies and expose the true villains, usually with a lot of help from an inside source. Along the way, he learns a little information about his true identity. Every “Bourne” movie is like this. Every. Single. One.

I remember giving the first “Bourne” movie a pass considering it mimicked a retro, European style I admired, although I felt other similar films like “Ronin” (1998) did it much better. After the first one, the sequels felt merely repetitious. This one was no different. I reject the idea that these films are on par with the more current James Bond films, only more ‘realistic’. The stunts and carnage are just as unrealistic as Bond and to boot, the “Bourne” films are devoid of fun. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, you have the wacky “Mission: Impossible” films which are about as unrealistic and goofy as they come. Both extremes have their flaws, it’s just a matter of what you prefer. I prefer neither.

Matt Damon plays the same Jason Bourne as he always has, only a little older with a bit more scowling. Tommy Lee Jones plays an evil, older version of his character from “The Fugitive”. Alicia Vikander is in danger of becoming the most overexposed, overrated ‘it-girl’ in Hollywood. She couldn’t shed her Swedish accent long enough to play a convincing CIA agent and her joyless, monotone performance didn’t prove her recent Oscar-win was an indication of her longevity as an A-list star. Gretchen Moll, Sam Worthington, Rooney Mara… These were all hot, young stars who were overhyped into downward career spiral. I hope Vikander can eventually prove that she has the skill and versatility to go the distance.

“Jason Bourne” is mindlessly watchable and that is often enough for a summer blockbuster. Despite all the impressive car chases, fights and stunts, I got bored.

Maybe this film will finally put the franchise to rest, especially now that Damon is reportedly taking a year off from acting. More likely, he will spend more time in the role of producer with all of the movie and TV projects he is putting together behind the scenes. Skip this one if you have grown tired of the predictable “Bourne” movies as I have. However, if predictable action and car chases are what you are looking for, this one has the goods.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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