By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
Poor Jeremy Renner. Once targeted to be the extender of franchises, it’s now pretty obvious that Hawkeye’s not getting his movie, Tom Cruise will never ever retire from ridiculous Mission: Impossible stunts, and nobody on earth wanted another Hansel & Gretel movie after all. The biggest pill to swallow, though, has to be the Bourne franchise, which has just gone bye-bye this weekend with the apparent financial success of the pretty definitively titled, Jason Bourne.
Gotta go hang with Affleck again and score some of Damon’s Oscar noms
Yep, the gang’s back together again, The Bourne Supremacy & Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass pulling back in franchise face Matt Damon to tae-bo those abs back in shape and get back to blank-faced, jittery-lensed ass-kicking. This time Bourne is pulled back in when franchise continuity preserver Nicky (Julia Stiles) steals some CIA black ops documents and tracks him down to help her deliver them to Not Julian Assange (Moby) as well as perhaps learn how precisely his father died and how he got recruited to Treadstone. Violent epilepsy ensues.
I’m not going to lie, seeing a greased up Damon boxing Albanian toughs was pretty exciting in the trailers, and indeed in the movie, too. Bourne is back, and very much in franchise restart mode, which I’m on board for. There’s a reason the appetite for this Greengrass & Damon reunion was so large, and Jason Bourne largely delivers up the meal folks were looking for. The big Las Vegas car chase sequence is as big and bruising as advertised, and Bourne gets to look and act as relentless and unstoppable and Wolverine-style ropey strong as you’d hope for, with Vincent Cassel a surprising and surprisingly intimidating physical foe to tussle with.
Think he had a muscle-off with Batfleck?
For my money, though, the best part of the film was Alicia Vikander’s striving and conniving CIA prodigy, who is given more complexity and character than Bourne across the span of his franchise. Her interplay with the old-school and outright villainous Tommy Lee Jones CIA boss character, and the way both manipulate Riz Ahmed’s social media billionaire/reluctant surveillance ally, are a subplot that really overshadows the main Damon-starring show. It’s these characters that are going to make the inevitable sequel (five-quel?) a must-see.
Everybody’s got their Paul Greengrass shaky cam jokes, but he really takes it to ridiculous lengths here. Outside of the geographical helicopter shots, one of which he glaringly reuses, I swear there isn’t a non-handheld shot in this film. It’s so bad that he even shoots Bourne reading a notebook or text in woozy handheld that renders it unreadable. Is Jason Bourne supposed to be profoundly drunk for the whole film?
Pffuck you, lense flare, you think you J.J. Abrahamses or sumtin’?
Renner-starring The Bourne Legacy director and screenwriter of all of the other Bourne films Tony Gilroy seems to have been kicked to the curb in favor of Christopher Rouse, a long-time Greengrass film editor who’s just now stepping into a screenwriter’s shoes. Lines like Icelandic hackers spouting “I’ll use SQL to corrupt the database”, or “This is bigger than Snowden” sure show it. The pleasures of this Jason Bourne are not terribly cerebral, and that’s okay, but if you’re not sure what you’re saying is smart, maybe skip it.
Jason Bourne is relaunching the franchise whether you like it or not, and can often feel like a ‘My First College Essay on Politics and Surveillance and Stuff’, but the reason why you’re here, bone-crunching barely decipherable action, is very much on display, and Alicia Vikander may be the true hope for the inevitable sequels to come.
Jason Bourne (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every current event/political hot topic referenced
Take a Drink: for phone calls and texts
Take a Drink: for flashbacks/magically wrinkle-free baby Damon
Take a Drink: whenever Vikander breaks protocol
Do a Shot: “Snowden”