After The Bourne Ultimatum, we weren’t sure if we would see Matt Damon again as trained assassin Jason Bourne. He’s been the perfect embodiment of the lethal, parkour-leaping action hero; someone who would make the creator and author Robert Ludlum proud. After a trilogy is complete, it’s difficult to convince the star to sign onto a fourth film. That’s because there might be any more stories to tell. After the mixed response to the Jeremy Renner-led The Bourne Legacy, the right script came along and brought Damon and director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum) out of the shadows.
Nine years after the events of The Bourne Ultimatum, Bourne (Damon) remains on the run from the CIA as he tries to uncover hidden truths about his past. When former CIA operative Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) hacks into the agency’s databases to uncover evidence about its illegal assassination programs and of Bourne’s recruitment, she tracks down Bourne to help him uncover who he really is. After the breach, CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) orders CIA cyber wizard Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) to find the former operatives.
From the start of the film, you can see how much the world has changed and Bourne has stayed off the radar, keeping himself busy with bare-knuckles fights in the desert and underground clubs. While the world has gotten more dangerous, Jason has hid. Once Parsons arrives, the action picks up as Bourne immediately gets back into action. From then on, he brawls in abandon warehouses and takes on a deadly asset, played by Vincent Cassel, who has a personal grudge with Bourne for his past with Blackbriar. Tommy Lee Jones’ steely, squinty-eyed CIA director pulls the strings in the shadows to take out Bourne but overall, proves to be less crafty than his predecessors. The only interesting character is played by recent Academy-Award winner Alicia Vikander, leading the debate on what her true motives are.
Overall, the plot has very few twists to keep audiences guessing. Director Paul Greengrass could have played up the world we currently live in more rather than the exotic locales, bang-up fistfights, and adrenalized chase scenes (because it wouldn’t be a Jason Bourne movie without a destructive car chase). If the current political climate was brought up more and how it affected how the CIA conducted business or how it might have changed Bourne, it would have helped the story. But all we did was get more of the same from the previous films.
The one thing that helped carry this movie through was Matt Damon himself. Ever since The Bourne Identity, Jason Bourne has always been a man apart, haunted not only by his own hidden origin story but by the consequences of his body count along the way of finding out the truth. The mystery and the lengths that he is willing to go is enough to create a compelling enough character to sustain four films with the title character over the last 15 years. Despite the tremendous physical shape that Bourne is in, Damon did a fantastic job in conveying how the years have hardened the assassin, showing the weathered face with small strands of grey in his hair.
Jason Bourne already gives audiences a character who is more than two-dimensional but it would have been better if we knew what he was fighting for, personally, and how it could affect the world.