Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Jason Bourne

Major Spoilers.

You know his name... but they still felt the need to make it the title.

Bourne's story was pretty well wrapped up last we saw him, so this movie has to make up new information to draw him back into the fight again. It comes from Nicky () who was just minding her own business hacking the CIA when she came across an interesting (new!) fact: Bourne's father Richard Webb was involved in Treadstone. This is important to Jason because of... reasons, so he starts chasing down leads and baddies again. Meanwhile, upstarty and serious CIA agent Heather Lee () and the CIA Director () catch wind of Bourne and can't resist giving chase -- in spite of the long track record of disaster for all others who have tried.

You know what this movie's problem is? Bourne Legacy. That is literally its problem. This whole movie seems to exist as some kind of incarnate indignation over Legacy's existence. It's been nine years since Ultimatum; a satisfying ending to an excellent trilogy. Now, back for no reason, Matt Damon's Bourne is older and significantly less interesting than he used to be. The movie's plot is basic and a thinly veiled excuse to bring the character back, and nothing brought to the movie brings anything worthwhile, or even new or interesting, to the table.

In some instances, quite the opposite.

In fact, they spent most of their time taking away things the franchise has given us so far. Maybe I was alone with this (I doubt it) but I personally liked the open ending of Ultimatum; an implication the there was more adventure to be had, with a happy ending somewhere nearby. I liked to imagine that once thing quieted down Jason and Nicky got together and managed to live a little. But no, this movie says. Nicky gets killed so that we can have more, bigger car chases and blurry fist fights. And no, we can't rest leaving the plot as a smart spy conspiracy; we have to throw in from left field some weird stuff about Jason's dad... to make it personal I guess? Jase, Shark. Shark, Jase.

But as offensive as all that ridiculousness is, the biggest offense here is simply that the movie just doesn't bother to be as good as any of Jason's other outings. Personally, I found that each sequel to be slightly worse, but at least they all fit together as a cohesive unit; this one tries to attach itself to the trilogy, while having more in common with Jeremy Renner's spin-off -- except without the freshness of a new face and story line. I enjoy Legacy immensely, but I do consider it to be on a lower quality level than the other Bourne movies. This one is on that step down with its general quality and being, and can't even manage to be fun and entertaining to make up for it.

I appreciate what you've done in the past, but if this is what you're gonna give us now, I'd rather someone else have a shot.

Jason Bourne has always been a great character, and Matt Damon seems incapable of failing to pull the weight of any movie, but he sure does come close here. He gets very few lines (he's never been chatty, but this is like BvS Superman-level-bad), and even when he does speak words they have nothing to do with his character at all, and are delivered so weirdly flat... I just don't get it. Why did they jump the shark to bring a personal issue to this movie if they weren't going to make Jason sympathetic, and develop the character in new ways? Yeah, he's still good at and driving, and hiding in a crowd, and punching people, and looking good with blood on his face, but it turns out that those are not things that resonate with an audience on a personal level.

I should also mention that Vikander I've always enjoyed in movies so far, but she does nothing to help out this film either. Her accent kept slipping through, her character was way too deadpan, and this is hardly her fault, but the twist of her being the bad guy in the end was poorly timed. It should have been earlier or later. Tommy Lee Jones was decent for what he had to work with. I was very impressed by his death scene, actually. On board with the wooden line delivery was Stiles. That was the only upside of her being in the film so briefly. is the obligatory cool and mysterious asset who's sicced on Bourne, and Rogue One's makes an appearance too.

*cue disappointed and resigned sigh*

Cinematography and action is the film's biggest pro. There's still a shaky-cam during a lot of the action -- sometimes it felt like the camera was being punched along with people's faces -- but that's something we've come to expect, and it wasn't too hard to follow. Otherwise there were a few memorable shots. And the climatic chase and subsequent fight scene was a well-done and entertaining piece of action. What was in the rest of movie up til then could hardly be considered action at all, let alone entertaining action.

This is a little sad. I kinda just feel sorry for everyone... mainly the characters who got dragged back out of a nice retirement for basically nothing -- just to join the ranks of "Franchises With Too Many Sequels" and films that suffer slow deaths via half-hearted sorta-reboots. Leaving well enough alone has never been in Bourne's wheelhouse, but one might have hoped that it would be for filmmakers who really care about his story and making good movies. This movie is perhaps not nearly as terrible as it could have been, but it's a long way from justifying its unnecessary and uninspired return.

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