I’ll say straight up that I’m a big fan of Bourne. This is his 4th proper outing as our forgetful hero, if you ignore 2012’s “The Bourne Legacy” with Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz: a ‘parallel time-stream’ drama that – rather against the stream of opinion I think – I also quite liked. Here Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne is set free of the torture of his memories of the past. Or is he? In a Snowdenesque opening, rogue agent Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) is in Reykjavik hacking into the CIAs database of black ops files and uncovers materials that allow Bourne to regress to memories before he was indoctrinated to become the one-man fighting machine: memories that come very close to home and hearth.
For Bourne is still a tortured soul in this film, drifting from country to country off the grid and making cash by flooring opponents cock-fighting style in bare knuckle fights.
By being contacted by Parsons, Bourne appears on the radar of ambitious CIA cyber-intelligence officer Heather (#ratherboringname) Lee (Alicia Vikander) and new CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones). In familiar fashion now, Dewey dispatches an asset with a serious Bourne grudge – Budge? – (the excellent Vincent Cassel (“Black Swan”)) to eliminate the troublesome couple. Much mayhem and bloodshed ensues.
Bourne has always been the silent but deadly type, and in this film he goes to extremes with the director (Paul Greengrass, back in the saddle again) only giving him an alleged 25 lines in the whole film (I wasn’t sad enough to count them but I can believe that to be true). Centre stage in the acting stakes again though is my favourite actress of the moment Alicia Vikander who just radiates class with a mesmerising screen presence. Tommy Lee Jones – an actor who has always had too much skin for his face, now going into overdrive with age – is also superb, and as they spend much of their screen time together, the combo is compelling.
But most people go to see Bourne for the action, and again the film doesn’t disappoint, with a sequence set round Paddington being particularly thrilling and a Vegas-set car chase to die for (literally if you were unfortunate to be driving the strip that night!). For there is carnage a plenty in this film, with probably the highest body count of any Bourne film to date.
Technically the film is really well put together, although you need to pay pretty close attention. The traditionally jerky-camera approach makes reading computer screens and text messages stressful for the viewer: the motion pauses for about 32 nano-seconds for reading purposes, so this film must be very hard work for dyslexics. There’s some really nice featuring of new video surveillance technology picking out identities from the crowd (which you might think is science fiction, but is not since my ‘day-job’ company – Verint – develops such solutions!)
I have seen other reports that Bourne fans were disappointed by this outing. I was not. I thought it was well up to standard. True there is a certain sense of re-tread (or perhaps that should be re-treadstone, arf!) to this, but the same could certainly be said for similar franchises (like Bond, and all of the current stock of superhero films). I personally can never get enough of Bourne – even the music and the pleasantly familiar end titles are a joy – so for me that’s just fine!
Fad Rating: FFFFf.